By now, there’s not much more fresh analysis to be made regarding Catherine Ashton’s comparison of the brutal attacks in Toulouse with the situation in Gaza. There wasn’t anything startling to say about it in the first place, but, since it touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a great din was swiftly raised.
While anyone following the story knows what Ashton said (including the subsequent and highly irrelevant clarification that she had referred to the situation in Sderot as well the one in Gaza), I imagine that most people don’t know really know what the Israeli response was. Nor should they care. It comprised a collection of politicians regurgitating the standard fare which appeals to the pro-Israel crowd, is ignored by her detractors, and is quickly forgotten by all.
What if, instead of offering up the usual pointless, banal, and excruciatingly obvious criticism, an Israeli leader would have come up with a creative response? It might have gone something like this:
We welcome the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs’ condemnation of the terrible events in Toulouse this week. We especially appreciate her recognition that this unspeakable tragedy is comparable with the treatment of Gaza’s children by the Hamas government, as well as the indiscriminate firing upon Jews from Gaza.
After Ashton’s regrettably-phrased remarks, the world was expecting an Israeli response. A statement attempting to change the conversation from one focused on Israeli culpability to one indicting Hamas for the suffering in Gaza would have been a welcome departure from Israel’s playing of the victim card. More importantly, anyone denouncing Israel’s remarks would be forced into the uncomfortable position of having to defend Hamas’s atrocities, both against Israelis and their own people. It’s rare that Israel is handed such an opportunity, and it’s a shame that it was missed.