American lawmakers in both parties today expressed support for Israel in the wake of growing international condemnation of the country following its deadly raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip.
"This was about instigating an altercation and they succeeded," New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (pictured) told the Washington Post, speaking of the activists on the flotilla. "... They were offered alternatives. Instead they chose to sail into the teeth of an internationally recognized blockade."
"Anything that Israel does would create an international outcry," he added. "This entire effort was intended to create an international outcry."
Republican Sarah Palin, meanwhile, hit a familiar theme, criticizing the mainstream media for its coverage of the event on Facebook - while also coming to Israel's defense.
"As far too many in the media, and in various governments, rush to condemn Israel, we must put the recent events off Israel's coast into the right perspective," she writes. "This 'relief' convoy was not about humanitarian aid, as the liberal mainstream media keeps reporting. The whole operation was designed to provoke Israel, not to provide supplies to Palestinians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Anyone who sees the video of Israeli commandos being attacked as they land on that ship knows the people aboard were vicious thugs, not 'peace activists.' The media insults our intelligence with their outright mischaracterization of who these enemies are."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hit many of the same notes, telling Politico: "The U.S., through the United Nations relief organization, has been funding food and shelter for the people of Gaza for 60 years now. There was no humanitarian crisis; this was a deliberate political effort on the part of people who want to try to undermine the survival of Israel."
New York Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman, meanwhile, told Politico that Hamas is the "true villain in this drama," while Florida Democratic Rep. Ron Klein, echoing some House colleagues, said the following: "As Israel continues to be unjustly challenged on the international stage, the United States must continue its efforts to stand up for Israel's self-defense."
The White House has tried to stake out a more cautious position on the raid, standing by a U.N. Security Council statement condemning "acts which resulted in the loss of at least ten civilians and many wounded," without specifying who was responsible for those acts.
The administration's careful rhetoric on the matter can be seen in a readout provided of President Obama's phone call today with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr. Obama "affirmed the United States position in support of a credible, impartial, and transparent investigation of the facts surrounding this tragedy," the White House said. "The President affirmed the importance of finding better ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza without undermining Israel's security. He underscored the importance of a comprehensive peace agreement which establishes an independent, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state as the way to resolve the overall situation and the United States' continuing commitment to achieving that goal by working closely with Turkey, Israel, and others with a stake in a more stable and secure Middle East."