Jewish Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. gave a rare demonstration of unity on Wednesday when they backed Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla, despite the fatal clashes on a Turkish-flagged ship which left nine activists dead and several people wounded.
“We know that Israel will investigate the matter fully and impartially, as it has done in the past”, said Ira Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC).
“However, every nation has a right to self-defense and Israel is no exception. Israel has a responsibility to enforce its naval blockade as a means to protect its citizens from the ever-present threat of weapons entering the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip - weapons that historically have been trained on Israeli civilians and soldiers alike, "he said, adding that "those around the world who are so quick to judge Israel should pause and reflect upon how they would react if challenged under similar circumstances.."
Forman commended U.S. President Barack Obama for his tempered response to the incident, and said that “the American Jewish community should also understand the role that our government has played.”
“It appears that President Obama is the only world leader to give Israel the benefit of the doubt regarding this unfortunate incident. Through its actions, the Obama Administration has made it clear that a biased investigation into the matter will not be tolerated and that Israel's enemies will not be able to use this incident as a tool to delegitimize the Jewish State."
Matthew Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) didn’t give Obama as much credit for his support and said that this was "no time to make demands of Israel."
“This violence would not have occurred if those aboard the vessels coming from Turkey were what they said they were - non-violent peace activists”, Brooks said, and added that "we urge the Obama administration to make it clear that it will veto any condemnation of Israel's actions in this matter in the UN Security Council”.
Meanwhile, Anti-Defamation League leaders Robert G Sugarman and Abraham H. Foxman called for “the leaders of every nation who seek peace” to condemn the flotilla organizers. “It is deeply disturbing that the leaders of the flotilla and their sponsors were willing to engage in an elaborate sham as a pretext for ambushing and violently attacking Israeli military personnel," they said in a statement.
"As the international community is engaged in a biased rush to judgment against Israel and a diplomatic lynching, now is the time for the United States to firmly stand with the Jewish state and its people," said the statement.
"The U.S. must show the world that it not only supports Israel’s right to defend its borders and citizens against terrorism, but that it supports Israel’s right to protect itself from people who pretend to be 'peace activists,' and parade under the guise of humanitarians while supporting Hamas and violently attacking Israeli military personnel."
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Chairman Conrad Giles and the organization's President Rabbi Steve Gutow, stressed the missed opportunity to prevent the bloody incident.
“What is most disconcerting to us is that the deadly raid could have been avoided if those upon the flotilla would have done as asked and docked at the Port of Ashod to allow Israeli officials to review the cargo onboard”, they said in a statement .
"It is our hope that this weekend’s incident does not complicate the quest for peace, which is a necessary goal for Israel, the Palestinians and the broader Arab world. Unfortunately, this is a goal Hamas violently opposes," the statement added.
The World Jewish Congress Statement lambasted the international media for blaming Israel for the deaths of nine activists.
“It is deplorable that much of the international media continues to portray such violent activists as humanitarians”, the WJCS stated. “This was a lynch mob, and it is incumbent upon responsible observers to be clear in saying so.
"The flotilla was aimed at tightening Hamas control of Gaza under the pretext of providing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza." The statement added.
Like many other organizations, the Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States, said they "regret" the loss of life, but state that Israeli soldiers were “viciously attacked."
"Israel has a clear record of permitting truly humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza in the past eighteen months," the CUFI statement said.
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