Shortly before 1:00 p.m. the White House released this statement:
I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Jerusalem today, as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days. Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences for those injured or killed. There is never any possible justification for terrorism. The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once and we underscore that Israel, like all nations, has a right to self-defense. We also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday. We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.
This is tour de force of moral equivalence. He can’t simply issue a single declarative statement condemning the brutal attack by Palestinians in the heart of Jerusalem. (So much for the notion that it’s all about the West Bank.) He has condolences for both sides. And by the way, where is the condemnation for the Gazans’ attacks on Israeli civilians today? More birds chirping.
The final sentence is the most noxious: “We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.” If Israel were blowing up buses with children on them, he might have a point. But his fixation on creating equivalence where there should be none is morally obtuse and frankly echoes the demand Israel’s enemies use for “proportional response.”
It seems the delay in issuing a statement was not put to good use. Maybe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can improve upon it this afternoon. She could hardly do worse.
UPDATE (1:24 p.m.): If you want to know how poor Obama’s statement is, compare it to the U.N. Secretary General’s: “The Secretary-General strongly condemns a bomb attack today adjacent to a bus stop in West Jerusalem, which has reportedly killed one woman and injured over thirty Israeli civilians, some of them seriously. Such attacks are unacceptable. The Secretary-General is deeply concerned and calls for an immediate cessation of acts of terrorism and violence against civilians in order to prevent further escalation and loss of life.”
I’ll quibble with using non-existent “West Jerusalem” (there is just “Jerusalem”), but when the United Nations’ moral compass is more accurate than the White House’s you know how terrible this administration’s Israel policy is.