Bintel Blog

Obama Breaks His Silence on Gaza, but Doesn’t Say Much

By Daniel Treiman

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The Associated Press reports:

President-elect Barack Obama broke his silence on the crisis Tuesday, saying that “the loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.” He declined to go further, reiterating his stance that the U.S. has only one president at a time.

Obama had been withholding comment on Gaza, with an aide explaining that President Bush is still responsible for American diplomatic policy. “During this transition period, we are not engaging in any action that could send confusing signals to the world about who speaks on behalf of the United States,” the aide said.

In the meantime, supporters of the Palestinians and of Israel were left stewing over Obama’s silence, angry at him for not speaking out. Of course, each side wanted him to say opposite things.

Many Arabs, of course, wanted Obama to call for an end to the Israeli offensive. “We want him to say something at least to stop the bloodshed,” said Suhail Natour, a Palestinian activist in Beirut told The Chicago Tribune. “Waiting until the 20th, with the bloodshed continuing, I don’t think is an acceptable way of confirming a new policy in the Middle East. Silence on this means complicity.”

Meanwhile, some pro-Israel activists — particularly those from the right end of the political spectrum — have criticized Obama for not weighing in on Israel’s side.

Reuters reports:

Morton Klein, president of the pro-Israel Zionist Organization of America, noted that Obama spoke out on Mumbai.

“And he’s acting almost as if he’s president when it comes to the economy, right? He’s not screaming ‘there’s only one president’ when he’s talking about the economic stimulus package,” Klein said.

Obama’s latest comments are sure to satisfy no one. Then again, anything he could have possibly said would have been sure to offend someone.


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