Have you noticed that no member of the Obama administration ever mentions Israel’s right to self-defense without adding the word “but?” Usually, what follows “but” is more important than the hackneyed allusion to self-defense that preceded it.
One of the latest supporters of Israel’s right to self-defense with the compulsory “but” is Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s chief confidant and senior adviser.
Recently on CBS' "Face the Nation," Jarrett enunciated what has become the mantra of the administration in describing the war in Gaza, “It’s a devastating situation. Israel absolutely has the right to defend itself, and we are Israel's staunchest ally. But you also can't condone the killing of all of these innocent children.”
The inescapable implication of this circumlocution is that Israel can avoid killing “all of these innocent children.” Like other Hamas apologists, Jarrett provides no context. There is no discussion of human shields, putting weapons near and in schools and hospitals, or even mentioning that Hamas has put civilians at risk by moving its headquarters to the Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
On Jarrett’s and every other observer’s mind was the allegation that Israel had shelled a school near the Rafah crossing that morning. United Nations Secretary General Bin Kai-moon could not contain his anger and called the alleged shelling, “a moral outrage and criminal act.” Department of State spokesperson Jan Paski used the words “outrage” and “disgraceful” to describe the shelling, which stood in sharp contrast to the word “irresponsible” that the administration typically uses for Hamas’ rocket attacks.
Paul Miller of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity’s noted this past week in the Daily Caller that the Rafah incident “was inaccurately reported by the international press, as video footage clearly shows the school was unharmed and Israel indeed struck outside the building.”
Was it another example of Pallywood, the malicious staging of events, often using live “corpses,” for dramatic purposes? In the case of the Rafa School, the corpses had been moved into the school from elsewhere to create the narrative that Hamas knew would reflexively draw international outrage.
Jarrett and other administration spokespersons could have expressed reservations, spoken about waiting until the facts were sorted out, or pointed to the stories in the international media that cast doubt on the incident, but that obviously was not part of the administration’s chosen narrative.
But how many children have been killed? How valid are the numbers? How many of the incidents that have sparked outrages are the consequences of Hamas’ missiles falling short or the results of staged events?
Even some of the most casual observers of the numbers that come out of Gaza’s Ministry of Health, meaning Hamas, noticed that seldom is there mention of military casualties. All casualties are described as civilians, well not just, civilians, innocent civilians.
Anyone who finished even a high school course in descriptive statistics would have observed the rather improbable fact that men are far more represented on the casualty rolls than are women. Upon closer inspection, the New York Times, no friend of the Jewish State, acknowledged that most of the men on the Gaza casualty list are ages 20-29, the ages of combatants. The BBC raised the question that if the Israelis were so indiscriminate in their bombing why were three times more men killed than women?
These were issues Jarrett could have raised. Instead she chose to throw fuel on the fires of outrage pushing the administration’s agenda to pressure Israel into accepting the kind of terms for cessation of hostilities Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryHillary Clinton under microscope at inauguration Overnight Tech: Meet the key players for Trump on tech | Patent chief staying on | Kerry aide goes to Snapchat | Uber's M settlement Tillerson met with top State official: report MORE previously offered as part of the deal he made with Hamas’ sponsors, Qatar and Turkey. That deal would have made Israel militarily vulnerable and given Hamas’ everything it wanted to carry out its next military campaign against the Jewish state.
Israel has long come to expect bias from the American media, but not the administration using the media to distort reality to fit an anti-Israel policy. The joke in Israel today is, who is less popular, the Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh or John Kerry? The conclusion is that, whatever the final tally, it will be close.
Miller is an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati. He has served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.