The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Palestinian Effect

One of the card carrying members of Barack Obama's team of 2s is Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. You'd think that with that august title, he'd be very clear and effective in his communications. Nope.

Brett Stevens writes about still another Obama administration spin effort regarding the Israel-Hamas war:
Of all the inane things that have been said about the war between Israel and Hamas, surely one dishonorable mention belongs to comments made over the weekend by Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

Interviewed by CNN's Candy Crowley, Mr. Rhodes offered the now-standard administration line that Israel has a right to defend itself but needs to do more to avoid civilian casualties. Ms. Crowley interjected that, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish state was already doing everything it could to avoid such casualties.

"I think you can always do more," Mr. Rhodes replied. "The U.S. military does that in Afghanistan."

How inapt is this comparison? The list of Afghan civilians accidentally killed by U.S. or NATO strikes is not short. Little of the fighting in Afghanistan took place in the dense urban environments that make the current warfare in Gaza so difficult. The last time the U.S. fought a Gaza-style battle—in Fallujah in 2004—some 800 civilians perished and at least 9,000 homes were destroyed. This is not an indictment of U.S. conduct in Fallujah but an acknowledgment of the grim reality of city combat.

Oh, and by the way, American towns and cities were not being rocketed from above or tunneled under from below as the Fallujah campaign was under way.
Stevens goes on to comment on the left-leaning media's obsession with civilian death counts, but only when Israel is defending itself.

It seems that every palestinian death is considered a civilian, even though a three-quarters of the dead are males of war-fighting age. Might it be worthwhile for, say, The New York Times to acknowledge that fact? Nope.

Like virtually every member of the Obama administration, Rhodes is walking a tightrope, working assiduously not to appear too pro-Israel. Stevens continues:
Maybe Mr. Rhodes knows all this [the difficulty of urban warfare] and was merely caught out mouthing the sorts of platitudes that are considered diplomatically de rigueur when it comes to the Palestinians. Or maybe he was just another victim of what I call the Palestine Effect: The abrupt and often total collapse of logical reasoning, skeptical intelligence and ordinary moral judgment whenever the subject of Palestinian suffering arises.
That sounds about right.