ABC's Jake Tapper reported Tuesday that the Obama administration is going to support Israel in the wake of international outrage over the flotilla incident off the coast of Gaza Monday morning.
If Tapper is correct, one has to wonder whether the typically pro-Palestinian media here in America will stand with the President on this one.
Such seems especially intriguing given Obama's plummeting approval ratings and his increasingly frosty relations with press members that helped him get elected two years ago but now feel he's snubbing them at every turn.
The senior administration official says that President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three times on Monday. Mr. Obama pushed the notion that last night - as the United Nations Security Council met to issue a statement about the incident - was the moment when the US had maximum leverage, that the longer the statement was being debated the worse it would ultimately be for Israel.
Ultimately, as the statement was negotiated over night, the US succeeded in making it more neutral where other nations wanted it to criticize and condemn Israel.
The statement expresses that the "Security Council deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting form the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza," but more generally condemns "those acts which resulted in the loss" of lives - leaving matters of blame vague.
The US also pushed for language conveying that it's acceptable for the Israelis to conduct their own investigation into the matter as long as the investigation is "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent." Other countries were pushing for an independent investigation, perhaps by the UN itself.
Tapper later updated his piece to include the draft of the U.N. resolution to support his view. Assuming he's correct, one first has to wonder what led Obama to this conclusion.
Certainly, the cover story from the White House might be that it doesn't want to further isolate Israel for fear that doing so would endanger a peace process so dear to the Administration. Let's understand that this flotilla incident comes at a horrible time for Obama:
- His favorability rating is now at an all-time low as is support for his healthcare initiative
- The top kill procedure which he apparently believed would work as he stepped in front of the press Thursday to take ownership of the Gulf Coast oil spill failed leaving him in control of this ever-worsening disaster
- Americans go to the polls to elect a new Congress in exactly five months and things aren't looking good for Democrats.
Add it all up, and this is not a good time to stab one of your allies in the back, especially when you and your Party desperately need the Jewish vote in November.
With this in mind, one has to wonder whether Mideast peace was indeed the administration's goal in supporting Israel at the U.N. Monday or if political self-preservation was really at the heart of Obama's calculus.
Regardless of the motive, another issue surfaces that should be of great concern to the White House: will our typically pro-Palestinian media support the administration on this one?
After all, as NewsBusters previously reported, the future of American-Israeli relations could rest on how our press report Monday's flotilla incident.
ABC's "World News" on Monday actually ended its segment on this subject by focusing great attention on the Muslim reaction while suggesting that American troops stationed in the Mideast might be further endangered as a result.
Commentary's Jennifer Rubin reported Tuesday that most media coverage of this episode completely ignored the terrorist ties of the Turkish ship at the very heart of the flotilla incident. As Mona Charen wrote at Tuesday's National Review Online:
The flotilla's participants included the IHH, a "humanitarian relief fund" based in Turkey that has close ties to Hamas and to global jihadi groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere, and which has also organized relief to anti-U.S. Islamic radicals in Fallujah, Iraq. A French intelligence report suggests that IHH has provided documents to terrorists, permitting them to pose as relief workers. Among the other cheerleaders - former British MP and Saddam Hussein pal George Galloway, all-purpose America and Israel hater Noam Chomsky, and John Ging, head of UNRWA, the U.N.'s agency for Palestinian support.
As NewsBusters reported in its first Update Monday, the IHH is such a terrorist-supporting network that Israel has outlawed it in its borders.
Yet this information was conspicuously absent from most media reports about the flotilla incident thereby giving Americans the impression that Israel boarded this Turkish vessel without any national security reason to do so.
As for this whole humanitarian aid red herring, Stratfor's George Friedman wrote Tuesday that this flotilla was NEVER about such a thing:
On Sunday, Israeli naval forces intercepted the ships of a Turkish nongovernmental organization (NGO) delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel had demanded that the vessels not go directly to Gaza but instead dock in Israeli ports, where the supplies would be offloaded and delivered to Gaza. The Turkish NGO refused, insisting on going directly to Gaza. Gunfire ensued when Israeli naval personnel boarded one of the vessels, and a significant number of the passengers and crew on the ship were killed or wounded.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged that the mission was simply an attempt to provoke the Israelis. That was certainly the case. The mission was designed to demonstrate that the Israelis were unreasonable and brutal. The hope was that Israel would be provoked to extreme action, further alienating Israel from the global community and possibly driving a wedge between Israel and the United States. The operation's planners also hoped this would trigger a political crisis in Israel.
Sadly, most of our nation's media reports on this incident ignored this inconvenient truth as well.
Which brings us back to Obama's press problem. If he and his team have come to the conclusion that standing with Israel now is the right move regardless of this reason, how does the White House convince America's typically pro-Palestinian press to change their stripes?
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey wrote Tuesday:
Maybe so. But given the media's hatred of Israel, a better question might be what Obama is going to have to give to the press to get THEM on board.
The question that will be on everyone's mind will be what Netanyahu had to offer in order to get Obama to defend Israel in this matter. As Tapper notes, this was the moment of maximum leverage for Obama over Netanyahu, and it seems doubtful that he would have allowed that moment to pass without winning something for Obama's own agenda, especially given the outcome at the [United Nations Security Council].