Elliott Abrams

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Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Lady Ashton’s Remarks

by Elliott Abrams
March 20, 2012

Lady Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign minister, is supposed to solve diplomatic crises, not create them. But her remarks about the killings at a Jewish day school in Toulouse have created a storm.

According to the Financial Times, “Speaking to a group of Palestinian children in Brussels on Monday, Lady Ashton mentioned a series of deadly incidents in which children were victims, including the shooting attack in Norway last year as well as that day’s killing of three children and one teacher in Toulouse. According to the text of the speech published on her website, Lady Ashton said: ‘When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.’”

Many listeners, including Israeli officials, have been disgusted by this analogy between Israel’s actions in Gaza to stop rockets from falling in communities in southern Israel, and the cold blooded murder of Jews in France. Ashton denies this is what she said.

“In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza,” the spokesman said. On Tuesday a spokesman for Lady Ashton insisted that her remarks had been ‘grossly distorted’ and that she condemned the attack in Toulouse.”

This is exactly wrong, for her remarks quite obviously drew a parallel. That was precisely her point, and it was a morally obtuse analogy between “what is happening in Gaza” and the murders in Toulouse. Perhaps her media advisers are telling her it is better not to apologize, and instead to attack the media for grossly distorting her remarks and just wait it out. That’s a mistake, and what she needs to do is say that in an off-hand remark she unfortunately left the impression that she believes there is any parallel whatsoever between the murder of Jewish children in Toulouse and the efforts of the government of Israel to protect its own children from rockets originating in Gaza. That she has failed to do this only confirms the view that she said what she meant, and meant what she said, in the first place.

Post a Comment 11 Comments

  • Posted by Robin Cramp

    Those of that thought that children in Gaza were actually killed by Israel’s incursions are grateful to Mr Abrams for correcting us. Apparently Israel has the only military that can go to war and only kill adults.

  • Posted by Jeff

    Hi Robin,
    You probably believe your comment is very clever, but I believe it is just the opposite. Israel’s “incursions” into Gaza are the result of the “People of Gaza” (as you and your fellow travelers like to refer to them) firing rockets and missiles into Israel’s civilian population centers, i.e., a war crime. The Israelis target the rocket launchers and men operating them, who are attempting to kill Israeli civilians.
    The IDF tries to avoid the killing and maiming the innocent and has the best record on this score of any modern army.
    To equate the unintended yet unfortunate deaths of children in a war to children wantonly murdered for who they are – indeed to equate people trying to avoid civilian casualties with those intent on causing civilian casualties, i.e., murderers, is intellectually and morally lazy to say the least.

  • Posted by Brad

    They are dead either way. Her comments are completely justified and your justification rings hollow. Without the occupation, blockade and subjugation one could argue that there would be no rockets. One can go back and forth on which act begot which response. Collateral damage is no different than intentional damage and the death of children can not be justified under any kind of defense = offense equation.

  • Posted by T Owenson

    Lady Ashton is one very sick individual who has no right to represent Gt Britain in world affairs

  • Posted by Chris

    Ashton’s comments are outrageous. The children in Toulouse were viciously gunned down at a place of study merely because they were Jews. Ashton should be discussing that and the issue of European anti-semitism. The events in Gaza have no parallel and no relevance to Toulouse. The only way she could be connecting the two is through the common Jewish character of Israel and the slain children.

  • Posted by Jeff

    Brad,
    Yes, they are dead either way, (congratulations for stating the obvious), but that’s not the issue. It’s your description which rings hollow. Children and others around the world die each and every day for a variety of reasons, e.g., famine, war, disease, accidents, murder, and it matters a great deal if those deaths are caused intentionally with malice and forethought. Yes, one could argue that without the “occupation”, blockade and “subjugation” there would be no rockets, but it wouldn’t be true, and one would have to be either completely ignorant or a moral and intellectual midget to do so. It’s not the Israeli’s that want to wipe Gaza off the map, but quite the other way around. You’re are juxtaposing cause and effect. It’s been said many times, because it is true, that if the Arabs laid down their weapons there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down there weapons there would be dead Israelis – men, women, and children. Lady Ashton’s remarks aren’t remotely justified, and even she knows it.
    The question remains why you don’t.

  • Posted by Erik Johansson

    For the record, what she was supposed to say according to her prepared speech, was not what she actually said, she also mensioned Sderot, alongside Gaza, and that makes at least some difference.

    Here prepared speech said:

    “And the days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

    Here you can find a video, fast forward to around 12 minutes.
    http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/player/streaming.cfm?sid=199376&type=ebsvod

  • Posted by J Hyde

    The outrageous comments in these columns are really worth sending to the trash. You occupy the lands of native people and then continuously bomb them killing their children and that is being defended here by bigoted and crazy people. It is common knowledge here in Israel and easily deduced if one looks at the pattern, the recent killing of Gaza children was the result of the filthy Israel Army testing the Iron dome project. It does not matter if a few hundred die or are injured in the attack. The results are gloated and published which is all over the the news media that not a single Israeli died in this highly successful test of the dome.

  • Posted by Michael.B

    Could you Mr Jeckil and Hyde tell us what is a native people? This people has massacred, exterminated and expatriated the Jews from their lands. This “aborigene” people tracks itself back to the Arab conquest which shouldn´t the real aborigene peoples have offered resistence, would now include at least Spain and France too, when not even the rest of Europe. The last Spaniards and French would be slowly liquidated in the 20th century like the last Christian Assyrians, who had to leave their ancient home to make place these Aborigenes – “natives”. The Egyptian Copts, the real hystorical Egyptians, are foreigners in their own land living rightless on waste dumps, being regularly killed even following the praised Arab spring. Every single native people between Arabia and Europe was completely uprooted, liquidated, its culture destroyed, its language prohibited, its people turned to pariahs in their own lands.

  • Posted by Alex Schindler

    Hyde, u ignoramus, it’s a good thing you don’t go around impersonating someone with an education like your alterego, Ph.D. Iron Dome is a defensive rocket-interception system with absolutely no offensive capabilities. What on earth does that have to do with Cast Lead?

  • Posted by Noel Sainsbury

    Lady Ashton’s comments were comments that could have been attributed to any decent citizen speaking out against the unnecessary killing of children no matter what creed or colour.

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