The US State Department has not always been too friendly to Israel, which, frankly has had better luck making friends in Congress and in administrations. Today, just as Israel was preparing to close on its panel of jurists who would lead an Israeli committee of investigation about the flotilla incident, a committee which would have had international observers reviewing its efforts, the US State Department announced that they are in favor of an international investigation of the incident.
This, of course, is not a small matter. The US remains a key voice in the international community and its support of Israel gives it a tremendous amount of influence over Israel’s actions.
Here is how the State Department put it to reporters:
“International participation in investigating these matters will be important to the credibility that everybody wants to see,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Tuesday. “We are discussing with Israel and others the prospective nature of international participation in the investigation. And we’re sharing different ideas on how to best accomplish that.”
“We want to see an impartial, credible, prompt, thorough investigation. We recognize that international participation, which lends itself to countries and entities being able to vouch for the results of the investigation – will be an essential element to putting this tragedy behind us,” he went on to say.
I’d like to make three points.
One. After the US abandoned Israel at the NPT talks which ended with only Israel among the nations of the world singled out for its unacknowledged arsenal of nukes, a call for a nuclear-free Middle East within a couple of years which eliminates Israel’s deterrent abilities with regards to its ambiguous arsenal, and the complete avoidance of the issue of Iran, one can only wonder whether the US recognizes the danger in which it is placing Israel. Iran with nukes pointing at Israel (and its Arab neighbors, Europe, and eventually the US) is not the same as Russia pointing nukes at the US. Israel without nukes loses a key deterrent that has probably prevented war a number of times.
Two. In calling for an international investigation of the flotilla incident, the US has now indicated that Israel’s democratic and legal mechanisms are insufficient or under par, which is ridiculous. The US has also indicated that this matter actually warrants an international investigation, which it did not. An international investigation also poses a different problem. Let’s call it the “Goldstone Committee problem.” This occurs when a biased party poses unfair guidelines for investigating a situation and sends out a biased team to conduct the investigation. With Goldstone, the rabidly anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council provided a biased mandate intended to malign Israel (which, contrary to Goldstone, was never changed to address the causes of the war in the same way that Cast Lead was investigated) and appointed a team where 2 of the team members had publicly shown an anti-Israel bias before the investigation even began. How does the US think an international investigation will turn out this time?
Three. The US needs to watch the rebound. Imagine if tomorrow a drone targeting an al Qaeda leader misses and hits a truck carrying civilians who are killed in the explosion. Would the US then agree to have an international investigation of its actions? Would it accept the comment by an ally, let’s say the French, where they demand an international investigation and claim they want it to be “impartial, credible, prompt, thorough,” suggesting that the US cannot be trusted to investigate itself? Fat chance the US would let such a thing happen. Yet, apparently, this administration feels that Israel merits, um, a different approach…
This is a moment where Israel should politely say “no” and stand its ground. Its jurors are serious people of integrity and can be trusted to investigate ethically, fully and properly. It is enough of a compromise to allow foreign observers of the process, but to acquiesce on the matter of an international investigation will establish a dangerous and unfair precedent. Every time, from now on, that a Jenin, al-Dura or Lebanon II accusation is raised by the enemies of Israel, suddenly there will be an international investigation. The point being, of course, to prevent Israel from being able to protect its people and defend itself. After all, whenever anything happens, the Israelis won’t be trusted to handle it themselves, but will be judged by others. Is there any country on earth that has to function in this way?