Catherine Ashton must go

In condemning the brutal murders of a young Rabbi, his two children (aged just 3 and 6) and the eight-year-old daughter of the school headmaster (who died in her father’s arms), UK Foreign Secretary William Hague declared:

This act of calculated cruelty will unite all decent people in revulsion and condemnation.

And it did.

Naturally, it would also serve to unite the indecent.

As world leaders issued unequivocal condemnations of the deplorable crime, the EU foreign policy chief, Britain’s top diplomat Baroness Catherine Ashton, provided her own take on events, comparing the brutal, targeted, premeditated and racially motivated murders of three young children and a Rabbi to “what is happening in Gaza.”

Ashton’s deeply disturbing attempt to politicize a national tragedy exposes an utter lack of objectivity and an appalling lack of judgement, both of which must surely lead the EU and Britain to question whether Ashton is worthy of her lofty posts.

It is difficult to understand just what similarities Ashton was able to observe between the shocking murders in Toulouse and Israel’s campaign against a terror organization (as designated by Ashton’s EU) that brutally consolidated its power, suppressed civil liberties — which the EU is supposed to fiercely defend — and launched a relentless campaign of terror against a million Israeli civilians, despite full Israeli withdrawal in August 2005.

Though the similarities may elude the rational mind, they sadly did not elude a clearly irrational stateswoman.

Catherine Ashton (photo credit: courtesy EU)
Catherine Ashton (photo credit: courtesy EU)

For one thing, there is no connection between a calculated attempt to murder as many Jewish children as possible and Israel’s surgical operations in Gaza aimed at defending its civilian population from terrorism.

But perhaps Ashton’s remarks reveal more about her assessment of the perpetrators than the victims. If there is a congruence between the victims in Toulouse and Gaza, it follows that the perpetrators (as Ashton sees them) in both cases bear an equal guilt and responsibility.

Therefore, through her remarks, Ashton has suggested that the state of Israel is in the same league as the cold-blooded child-killer of Toulouse.

Worst of all, at a time when we must examine how one can carry out such a brutal and senseless act, the Baroness may have inadvertently incited further such acts by suggesting that the same agony that has been inflicted on the families of the victims is also being inflicted by Israel on the people of Gaza.

An admission of guilt

In a bizarre attempt to conceal the absurdity of her remarks, Ashton’s staff has since released a revised transcript of the address during which the comments were made, which now likens events in Toulouse to “what is happening in Gaza and Sderot.”

Ashton’s decision to revise her original comments is as much of an admission of guilt as we are likely to see, and her perceived need to balance the ledger by introducing reference to “Sderot” shows just how unbalanced her observations were to begin with.

The shocking events in Toulouse require no crude attempts at contextualization. This is a tragedy that must unite the decent in mourning and condemnation, and lead us to assess how this can occur, what has caused such radicalization, and how we can ensure that the suffering visited upon the families of the victims is not repeated.

In delivering her highly offensive assessment of the tragedy, the Baroness revealed not only a seething bias against the Jewish state and an appalling lack of common sense, but such lack of basic decency that she cannot continue as the voice of the EU on matters of foreign policy.

This piece was written in a personal capacity and the views contained herein are not necessarily representative of NGO Monitor.

About the Author
Alex Ryvchin is Public Affairs Director for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community. He is a former Israel Research Fellow at Jerusalem-based research institute, NGO Monitor, a lawyer and the founder of opinion website, The Jewish Thinker.