Monday, July 14, 2014

What does an acrimonious presidential press statement really look like?

With all this loose and unfortunate talk about how mean Obama has been to Israel in his official statements, I thought it might be instructive to examine some of his predecessor's official statements. I believe they provide far better examples of acrimony and disapproval.

On February 14, 2001 a Palestinian drove a bus into crowd of people injuring 25 Israelis. Here's Bush calling for Israeli restraint

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 14, 2001
Remarks by the President Upon Departure 
The South Lawn
8:55 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I strongly condemn the terrible act of violence in Israel this morning. I have called Prime Minister Barak to express my condolences to the families of the people killed and to all the Israeli people.
As I told the Prime Minister, the tragic cycle of violent action and reaction between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly the escalation this week, needs to stop. I'm urging all parties to do their utmost to end the violence.

We will continue to work with all parties to try to restore calm to the region.
Thank you.

On October 8, 2002 Israel sent tanks and gunships into Gaza killing 13. According to the New York Times "the army said the mission was part of a new strategy of putting pressure on Hamas, which has frequently launched crude rockets from the Gaza Strip." Here's the no-sympaty for Israel official Bush Statement

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 8, 2002
Statement by the Press Secretary 
The President is deeply concerned by reports of Israeli military actions in Gaza that have resulted in the deaths and wounding of many Palestinian civilians. While the Administration supports Israel's right to self defense, it is critical that Israeli forces make every effort to avoid harm to civilians in exercising that right. The President urges Israel to minimize the risk to civilian populations in areas in which Israeli Defense Forces are operating.

Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said: ''We're deeply troubled by the reports of Israeli actions in Gaza over the weekend that resulted in deaths and wounding of many Palestinian civilians. While the precise details still remain uncertain, Israeli operations were undertaken in crowded civilian areas and involved firing on a medical facility.'

On June 9, 2003 Israeli gunships attacked a Hamas official and other militants who were launching Quassam missles into Israel. Here is how the Bush White House reacted:

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 10, 2003
President Bush Troubled with Israeli Helicopter Gunship Attacks 
Remarks by the President and Ugandan President Museveni in Photo Opportunity
The Oval Office
3:20 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to welcome President Museveni back to the White House. Mr. President, you have shown extraordinary leadership on a lot of issues, but the one issue that's really captured the imagination and the hearts of the American people is your extraordinary leadership on HIV/AIDS in your country. You've shown the world what is possible, and I want to congratulate you for that leadership.
I also want to thank you for your steadfast support on the war against terror. And I'm glad you're here.
Before we begin our discussions I do want to say something on the Middle East. I am troubled by the recent Israeli helicopter gunship attacks. I regret the loss of innocent life. I'm concerned that the attacks will make it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to fight off terrorist attacks. I also don't believe the attacks help the Israeli security. I've been in touch with all parties in the region. I am determined to keep the process on the road to peace. And I believe with responsible leadership by all parties, we can bring peace to the region. And I emphasize, all parties must behave responsibly to achieve that objective

and his Press Secretary reiterated this the next day

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, first, let me say that the President is deeply troubled as a result of the attack by Israeli helicopter gunships that claimed at least two lives and wounded more than 20 people. The President regrets deeply the loss of life and the innocent -- the injuries to innocent Palestinians. The President is concerned that this strike will undermine efforts by the Palestinian Authority and others to bring an end to terrorist attacks, and the President thinks that this action does not contribute to Israel's security.
To express this strong sentiment, the President has directed members of his administration to carry that message to the Israelis and to the Palestinians. As a result, a rather full-court press has been made, conversations have been had and phone calls were made by National Security Advisor Rice, Assistant Secretary of State Burns, the counselor in Jerusalem Feltman, Ambassador Kurtzer, as well as Mr. Abrams here at the National Security Council. A wide-ranging series of phone calls have gone out to senior Palestinian and Israeli officials.

On May 18, 2004 the IDF launches Operation Rainbow  with a stated aim of striking the terror infrastructure of Rafah, destroying smuggling tunnels, and stopping a shipment of SA-7 missiles and improved anti-tank weapons.

Here's the official Bush Statement the next day
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 19, 2004
Statement by the Press Secretary 
We deeply regret the loss of life of innocent Palestinian civilians today in Gaza.
While we believe that Israel has the right to act to defend itself and its citizens, we do not see that its operations in Gaza in the last few days serve the purposes of peace and security. They have worsened the humanitarian situation and resulted in confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians, and have not, we believe, enhanced Israel's security.
We note that the Government of Israel has expressed its "deep regret" for what it called a "tragic event." These events in fact serve as a grim reminder of the wisdom of Israel disengaging from Gaza, and having its security presence replaced by reformed Palestinian security forces that will -- and must -- themselves act to stop smuggling and halt terrorism. The roadmap calls upon the Palestinian Authority to "declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere" and to begin "sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and organizations."
We have urged the Israeli Government to exercise maximum restraint now. All parties should find a reason to calm the situation.
We intend to consult immediately with the relevant parties, which include Israel, the Palestinians, and the Government of Egypt, about effective ways to move forward against the smuggling of arms into Gaza and terrorist activities there, so as to create the best possible conditions on the ground leading toward the disengagement that we continue to favor.
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During Operation "Autumn Cloud" in 2006 Israel hit a row of Palestinian houses killing 20 and wounding 40.

Here's the official Bush statement:

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 8, 2006
United States Deeply Saddened by Injuries and Loss of Life in Gaza 
The United States is deeply saddened by the injuries and loss of life in Gaza today. We send our condolences to the families of all those affected. We have seen the Israeli Government's apology and understand an investigation has begun. We hope it will be completed quickly and that appropriate steps will be taken to avoid a repetition of this tragic incident. We call on all parties to act with care and restraint so as to avoid any harm to innocent civilians.

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