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Harry Reid: I look forward to Israel's probe of itself

With another aid ship steaming towards Gaza, Harry Reid, the second most powerful member of the Democratic Party in the country, issues an oddly-timed statement strongly defending Israel's flotilla raid:

"Israel is one of our strongest and most important allies, and the United States stands firmly with Israel at this critical time.

"I deeply regret the loss of life in the flotilla incident, including the death of an American citizen.

"Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens and therefore has a clear right under international law to prevent weapons from getting in the hands of terrorists determined to target them. Israel indicated it was willing to put in place a process to ensure that legitimate humanitarian relief reached Gaza. Unfortunately this offer was rejected.

"Israel has pledged to carry out a transparent and thorough investigation of this incident, and I look forward to its findings."

Notice that there's only "regret," no hint of condemnation, over the American citizen's death. Notice that the statement comes close to blaming the flotilla activists for provoking the incident by rejecting the offer by Israel to transport the aid over land. And notice the blanket endorsement of Israel overseeing the probe of the incident, with no call for any international involvement.

Behold the mainstream of your Democratic Party. There's no balance here whatsoever.

By Greg Sargent  |  June 4, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate Dems  
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Greg, it's quite unclear to me what sort of "balance" you seek. Would you care to lay out your core beliefs regarding the situation?

Posted by: sbj3 | June 4, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

sbj -- for starters, I would like international involvement in this probe. Is that unreasonable?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 4, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: Would you be willing to subject the US to the same sort of "international involvement" for every incident in Yemen or elsewhere?

Posted by: sbj3 | June 4, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I thought NATO's participation was going to follow from Turkey's involvement.

The question is why is this a third rail issue for national Dems?

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 4, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Reid, like most of the democratic (and all of the republican) caucus is a reflexive Israel supporter (toady). The lack of international involvement (even observers to the process would be an (small) improvement) is like getting the Botha regime to investigate the negative effects of apartheid, Bull Connor to investigate racial injustice in the South, or Jim Jones (Guyana mass murder/suicide) to investigate religious cult behavior.

What other times are the perpetrators of violence allowed to "investigate" themselves? Oh, right, the Pat Tillman investigation by the Army. That went well...
Alice in wonderland thinking from Reid and the dems and I say that as a progressive.

Posted by: srw3 | June 4, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@ sbj3 : If the US boarded ships in international waters and killed and wounded a bunch of civilians (or even activists), then yes, I would expect some kind of international involvement in the investigation.

Posted by: srw3 | June 4, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

This is from Greenwald and he's referencing Mackey's article in the NYTimes today. Even if you don't want to take a side, waiting for the facts to present themselves, this type of investigation will never be anything but suspect.

"Nobody's claims are entitled to an automatic assumption of truth, including these passengers. But as Mackey argues, all of this compellingly underscores the need for an independent -- not an Israeli-led -- investigation. Mackey quotes Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheifaz:

Israel has confiscated some of the most important material for the investigation, namely the films, audio and photos taken by the passengers [and] journalists on board and the Mavi Marmara’s security cameras. Since yesterday, Israel has been editing these films and using them for its own PR campaign. In other words, Israel has already confiscated most of the evidence, held it from the world and tampered with it. No court in the world would [trust] it to be the one examining it.

Just as is true for the U.S. on so many occasions, Israel has made unmistakably clear that it is interested only in propagandizing and obfuscating. The very idea that they can be trusted to reveal what actually happened is ludicrous on its face."

Posted by: lmsinca | June 4, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Since Israel has threatened to attack Iran, does Iran now have the right to board all Israeli bound ships, in international waters, and if anyone on board resists them, then have the right to shoot them dead, and then conduct it's own internal investigation, without any outside participation?

Since Israel assassinated a person, in another country, while using forged passports, from several nations, do all those nations now have the right to embargo Israel, and hijack all their ships, while in international waters?

Posted by: Liam-still | June 4, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It seems the more Israel does to damage its own credibility, the harder the U.S. government fights on its behalf. It is truly perplexing to me.

Israel's politics has been contaminated by years of reliance on military capabilities to maintain stability and sovereignty. Unfortunately, this same reliance on the military has inbred a culture of corruption and political extremism not dissimilar from the neoconservatives in America. Israelis are, by nature, strong-willed, but they are also progressive. If the security situation there were to stabilize for a sustained period of time we would see a shift away from the hard line and back towards more progressive leadership ala Yitzhak Rabin. One can only hope. It's a rough situation, no doubt.

And I do understand, to an extent, U.S. support of the Israeli government, but Israel has to do more, much much more, to prove that they have credibility on the world stage and are deserving of our support.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 4, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse


Did you see the report about Nikki Haley's radio interview?

She was asked if she were elected governor, and it was later proved that she actually had cheated on her marriage, and had an affair, would she resign. She said; yes, she would resign.

Isn't that an admission by her, that she had the affair, or affairs, and that all she is hiding behind, is, so far, no one has been able to offer proof.

If the affairs had never happened, why would she say she would resign, when and if proof is found.

An innocent person would have said; since I never had those affairs, no such proof can ever be uncovered, so there will never be any reason for me to resign.

I think Nikki slipped up, and, indirectly, admitted the truth.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 4, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I love that statement by Reid. It's perfect. He sticks to the facts. Isreal does have the right to defend their borders and protect themselves from 700 "activists" attempting to force their way thru the blockade. Israel delivers tons of aid to Gaza every day, and they have the right to inspect anything going in. Good job Reid!

Posted by: MarilynManson | June 4, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I gotta say I find it ironic that some of the same people who point out how fruitless it is for Pres Obama to keep reaching out his hand to the GOP continue to try to reason with sbj.

Don't feed the trolls!

As for Reid, he's in for the reelection fight of his life, you really think he's gonna piss of AIPAC? I tell you what though, if you want to read maybe the best thing I've read on the flotilla incident and the path that Israel is going down in general I suggest you read this comprehensive piece by Spencer Ackerman.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 4, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

There is an arranged marriage, that has always been dysfunctional, and often turned violent, over the course of more than four decades.

Each one of the pair, brought their own property into the marriage. There are no children, so divorcing should not be too difficult to arrange.

Let each one keep the property they brought into the arranged marriage, and then go live apart from each other, on their separate holdings.

A Divorce Judge would be the best, and most expedious way to disolve this bad marriage, and settle all property claims.

For some strange reason, one party in the marriage wants to keep a large chunk of the property that legally belongs to the other party in the bad marriage.

The damn divorce proceedings has been dragging on for ever, while the two sides, argue, squabble, commit assaults on each other, and often refuse to even speak to each other for years at a time.

Clearly they will never work this out between theirselves.

It has to be taken out of their hands, and an impartial divorce judge must decide who gets to keep what, and grant a final divorce decreed now.

The judge should also issue restraining orders, on both sides, to stay away from each other for at least the next fifty years.

Lads and Lassies, do you get my drift?

Posted by: Liam-still | June 4, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

An investigation by ANYONE of Israel is effectively irrelevant as any finding of significant crime or culpability can only be evidence of anti-Semitism. That's the propaganda axiom, never violated, always implemented. An investigation of Israel by Israel is simply a convenience to limit how much time and effort the Israel-can-do-no-wrong people/institutions have to invest in insisting there is anything amiss in the above axiom. All of that is simply a given.

Complicity in this is, for the US, not merely a matter of continuing the immorality of the occupation, it is a fundamental reason why the US was and is a target for terrorism.

Walt and Mearsheimer here ...

Posted by: bernielatham | June 4, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

sg - Thanks for pointing to Ackerman. I'll point again to Beinart's NYRB essay, The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment

Posted by: bernielatham | June 4, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

What are sgwhite and bernie?

Prime examples of the reason the Dems pushed the Malek story so hard yesterday.

Posted by: sbj3 | June 4, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

All, GOP gears up to attack Elena Kagan for working on gun control issues under Clinton:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 4, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

So, Mr. Reid, Israel has a right to defend its citizens? Do the Palestinians have a right to defend their citizens? Do they have a right to regain their stolen homeland? Do they have any rights at all?
Some white Europeans who happen to be Jewish come over, take land, and when the local people struggle against this they are labeled terrorists. Why are we surprised that the Palestinians rejected the "compromise" of the Partition Plan for Palestine of 1947 (hey guys, we're nice, we'll only take half your land)? What would you have done?
If any sane objective non religious person examines this situation it becomes plainly obvious that the "Israelis" are invaders. And no, I'm sorry, the Old Testament is no basis for the creation of a state. Have any of you read it recently?
I hope that one day people in the US start to actually think for themselves, learn some objective history, and stop this blind support for a racist state that is only democratic if you are descended from the correct mythical character. Wake up people.

Posted by: smt123 | June 4, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse


1. A tight race in NV - check.
2. Lots of jewish voters in Las Vegas - check.
3. Unquestioning support for Israel's behavior - check.
4. Not surprised - check.

Posted by: B-rod | June 4, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

It's crazy to think that Israel can investigate its own actions. That's like trusting the White House to investigate whether the White House violated the law in offering people inducements to drop out of political races. And Greg Sargent would never sit still for anything like that.

Posted by: Rob_ | June 4, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The Israeli Defense Force has released new audio taken from their confrontation with the flotilla. That might have been a mistake. Please, please, check this out.

Posted by: philogratis | June 4, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@Rob: White House violated the law in offering people inducements to drop out of political races.

Considering this is not a crime, I don't think it matters.

Its true that I wouldn't trust the Bush administration to do an investigation of say torturing detainees, which is a crime under US and international law, but I am sure that Rob feels like the bushies would be totally upfront and very thorough about that investigation.

Posted by: srw3 | June 4, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Just look at a world map from the recent Esquire showing nations who discriminate against gays in the military and nations that still have the death penalty, and you begin to see how far to the right the US in the world. The US is nearer to Nigeria and Libya in our world view than to Canada, Britain or Japan, our more natural allies.

Posted by: AxelDC | June 4, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid is running for reelection in Utah. Nuff said.

Posted by: herzliebster | June 4, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Greg, it is unreasonable to expect Israel to accept an international investigation when such international interventions have so consistently taken a one-sidedly anti-Israel form. (Remember the U.N. peacekeepers caught on film witnessing the Hezbollah kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and doing nothing to stop it?) I agree that it sounds nice in theory, but it has never worked, and Israel can't be expected to go down that road again.

Posted by: dorfaza | June 4, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Darn! We should have let N. Korea investigate the sinking of the S. Korea ship.
Instead, we let the aggrieved party investigate. But at least we're not going to make the same mistake this time, eh?

Posted by: quickj | June 4, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

This statement has more to do with Harry Reid's reelection bid than it does with Israel.

Posted by: daiconradmi | June 4, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

"Behold the mainstream of your Democratic Party. There's no balance here whatsoever."

You are correct. There is no balance HERE...MEANING on your blog, though I must say, you have one heck of a sense of humor. Seriously.

~ Halli Casser-Jayne

Posted by: PolitiHAL | June 4, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Do we have to scream it? The difference here, the crucial factor here, is that this incident took place in international waters. That does make it an matter for international courts, for NATO, and so forth. If the Israelis had waited until the flotilla had crossed into Israeli waters (Gazan, really), they would have a leg to stand on in claiming this was an internal matter, or one of sovereignty, or even of self defense. But the fact is, they didn't. They arrogantly boarded and seized the ships of other nations in international waters and murdered citizens of other nations with whom they were not at war. By all reasonable standards, by the standards that would have been applied to to Libya, or Cuba (that were applied to Cuba in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down), this was an international crime, if not an outright act of war. Israel should be held to the same standards as anyone other country.

Posted by: chilli | June 5, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse


British army Col. Richard Kemp has said that the United States, Britain or another democracy would never submit to an international inquiry for a military incident.

He mentions in this article,

***Look at what appears to have been a very serious military error made by the German army in Northern Afghanistan last year when something like 50-150 civilians were killed in an air strike,” he said.

“Where was the independent inquiry about that? Where were the calls for an independent inquiry about that? Why is it that Israel is subjected to that kind of call when other democratic countries aren’t?”***

If it's truly unorthodox and dangerous to have an international inquiry, I don't see anything wrong with international observers -- perhaps even some responsible officials from NGOs -- observe and provide their perspectives on an Israeli inquiry.

Posted by: AdamMetc | June 5, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

When Kemp in interviewed in Haaretz, he says Turkey and Israel need to fully share information in separate investigations:

***"No democratic state would subject itself to such an investigation," Kemp says. "I don't think the United Kingdom or the U.S. would subject itself to an international investigation in similar circumstances. I don't think necessarily that Israel should have a higher standard expected of it than other democratic nations." Israel should, however, work together with Turkish authorities, who are likely to probe the incident on their own, adds Kemp. ***

Posted by: AdamMetc | June 5, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Tyranny always begins and ends with one group which ignores the rights and survival of the other. Bullies often become tyrants and violent abusers..we see this in domestic abuse. Every power needs endpoints and reality testing. The Israeli Likud has a modus operandi of worrisome dynamic and the US has to look back in history at similar alarming dynamics before another year of automatic funding by the US takes place. This has nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with the tenets behind Judaism which is self reflection and serving the betterment of all men and their condition.

Posted by: timeforhonesty | June 7, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

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