Spotlight on Flotilla Spokesman Edward Peck

Edward Peck has emerged as a spokesman for the Gaza flotilla. Although he served in two U.S. administrations, Peck has become estranged from the U.S. government. As he put it, “I have a nice arrangement with my government. I don’t speak to them. They don’t listen to me.”

During the Carter administration, Peck served as an ambassador to Iraq, and during the first President Bush’s administration, he served as Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Counter-Terrorism. But since retiring from government service, Peck frequently attacks American Middle East policy, particularly the U.S. alliance with Israel.

Peck is a member of the Board of Directors of CNI (Council for the National Interest) a group founded by former State Department officials, many of whom were posted in Arab states. The organization has a strong pro-Saudi stance. Over the years, it has sponsored anti-Israel speakers and bought full-page ads in major newspapers condemning Israel and urging America to distance itself from the Jewish state.

Despite his always composed and moderate-sounding demeanor, Mr. Peck displays disturbingly radical views.

Suggestion That the 9/11 Attack Was a Result of U.S. Actions

Four days after the most calamitous terrorist attack in the history of the U.S., Peck attempted to explain the perpetrators’ motives. Qualifying his statements by asserting that the 9/11 terrorists were not “right” in their own actions, Peck nevertheless suggested that the attack was a result of U.S. actions: In a Sept. 15, 2001 interview on Fox News, he stated:

[The perpetrators] came to do to us what they perceive – it doesn’t make them right, but – what they perceive is we’ve been doing the same thing now for a long time in various parts of the world. [emphasis added]

When challenged about the U.S. “doing the same thing” as the terrorists, Peck replied:

You want a list of the countries that we’ve bombed and invaded over the last 25 years?

The interviewer asked incredulously, “What country, in what country have we rammed a plane loaded with fuel through a known civilian center such as was done this week?” Peck replied that the U.S. didn’t have to do that because it uses “untrammeled military force.”

Selective Morality

Several weeks later, Peck again criticized the U.S., this time in expressing his opposition to taking action against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.. In an Oct. 23, 2001 interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Peck cast doubt on the charge that Hussein had gassed Kurdish women and children and immediately brought the discussion back to U.S. actions:

.. just as my colleague, the ambassador, said, there’s some suspicious things going on. But if you mention killing women and babies, you know, that’s a — that’s a pretty serious charge to level against anybody. And there are those out there who lay that charge at our feet. 

O’Reilly responded, “…I don’t think that we gassed Kurds in the northern part of the country, you know…”

While acknowledging that the U.S. did not gas Kurds, Peck continued to shift the discussion toward criticism of the U.S. As always, the former ambassador framed his criticism as the perspective of the U.S.’s enemies:

But what I’m concerned about is, why people such as yourself and I consider Saddam Hussein to be a threat. And that is because the man has what he believes to be solid reasons to dislike us.

The rest of the exchange follows:

O’REILLY: Well, all right, he can dislike us all he wants, but he also, as I said, wiped out a bunch of Kurds with gas in the northern part of his country…

PECK: And the gas, of course, was given to him by the United States

O’REILLY: Well, that’s fine, I mean, I don’t care what the gas was for…

PECK: OK, fine.

O’REILLY: … but he did it, and then he invaded Kuwait to try to take that country over, and while he did that, the Kuwaiti people were brutalized, as you know… ..

PECK: You’re engaging — sir, you’re engaging in selective morality. Is the invasion — is invasion a crime, or just who does it?

Peck accuses his host of engaging in “selective morality” but what about Peck’s own selective morality?

In discussions about Iraq, Peck opposed any action to contain Hussein, even as the dictator gassed Kurdish women and children. As long Hussein did not pose a direct threat to the U.S., Peck insisted, there was no compelling reason to intervene. But when it comes to joining a mission of terrorist supporters to break the maritime blockade of a territory ruled by a group sworn to Israel’s destruction, Peck takes on a different stance, eager to intervene.

Whitewashing and Justifying Terrorists

Peck whitewashes and justifies Iranian-backed terrorist groups and their leaders, invoking America’s first President. “In his day, George Washington would have been called a terrorist, if the British had known the phrase,” Peck stated in a June 1, 2010 interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.

Although Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the non-Arab world including Israel, the U.S., Canada, Japan, the U.K., Australia and the European Union, Peck portrays the group simply as “an organization that was freely and fairly elected in a democratic election.”

The former ambassador denies that Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction. “This is what you always hear,” he said in the above-mentioned  interview, implying that it was a false rumor by Hamas’ opponents and  that he does not believe it, “having met with Hamas leaders and discussed it with them.”

But Peck’s purported discussions notwithstanding, Hamas’declared goal, officialized in its governing charter, is to destroy the Jewish state and replace it with an Islamic one. No Hamas representative has ever renounced the charter. On the contrary. The organization’s leaders not only reiterate the charter’s precepts calling for an Islamic caliphate in all of Israel, but view it as the first step to worldwide Islamic rule. (See “The Facts About Hamas“) To realize its mission, the organization has dispatched suicide bombers, rockets and mortars into Israel to attack Israeli civilians.

The former ambassador, however, justifies Hamas attacks against Israel.  Communicated with his customary calmness and tone of reason, Peck says:

When you’re occupied and your houses are demolished and all of the stuff that’s been going on their for the past 40 years, you get people irritated.

As to Hamas’ role in the overall Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Peck has the following to say:

I would put that in the same category as those people running across the ship and beating up Israeli soldiers who are coming in to attack them. They were defending the ship. It was the Israelis who were attacking.

Hezbollah, another Iranian-funded organization, has a long history of international terrorism, including many brutal attacks against U.S. citizens, Among the terrorist organization’s targets were 241 U.S. Marine peacekeepers murdered, airplane passengers taken hostage aboard a TWA flight, visitors to a Jewish community center in Argentina murdered or wounded. (For a fuller list, see Timeline of Hezbollah Violence.)

Thus, the group is deemed a terrorist organization by most Western countries and the U.S. State department. – but not by Peck.

When questioned in July 2006 interview with Fox News whether he considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, Peck responded:,”A terrorist organization is in the eye of the beholder,” and then proceeded to equate the Hezbollah raid into Israel, with the parachuting of American soldiers into Germany to kill Germans during World War II.

Regarding Hezbollah’s stated goal of annihilating Israel, Peck equated that with what he falsely claimed was Israel’s goal to “wipe Hezbollah off the face of the earth.”

The organization’s leader Hassan Nasrallah incites, supports, and funds terrorist attacks on Israel, both by Hezbollah and Hamas. His virulent pronouncements against Jews, his calls to destroy Israel and his incitement to violence against Jews, Israelis and Americans attest to Nasrallah’s less than peaceful record. (See “Hassan Nasrallah in His Own Words“.)

Yet Peck describes Nasrallah in heroic terms:

[Nasrallah] is really two guys – he’s an educated man. He wants for his people housing, hospitals, electricity, sewage, school, education, jobs and freedom. And the other guy is the guy who’s prepared to fight to get it. (Fox News, June 1, 2010)

Elsewhere Peck he says:

He [Nasrallah] wants to free his country from domination by another. (Democracy Now, July 31, 2006)

The statement was made six years afterIsrael had unilaterally left Lebanon. The only country threatening to dominate Lebanon was Syria, Hezbollah’s ally.

During the Israeli-Hezbollah that began with a coordinated cross border attack, kidnapping of soldiers and a missile barrage by Hezbollah, Peck attempted to turn the tables to blame Israel for starting the war. He said:

I am not convinced that it’s the captured Isaeli soldiers that provoked this horrific Israeli response. I believe they were looking for an excuse.(Democracy Now, July 31, 2006)

At the same time, in the same interview, he justified Hezbollah’s potential use of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers as pawns to trade for Lebanese captives whom Israel was holding. Peck did not mention that the Lebanese captive at the center of Hezbollah demands was Samir Kuntar who had murdered a young man in front of his 3-year-old daughter, before smashing the child’s skull against rocks.

Gaza Flotilla Spokesman

As a participant on the flotilla meant to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Hamas-held Gaza strip, Peck is frequentlyinterviewed about its mission and events onboard and just as frequently distorts the facts.

In an appearance on CNN after arriving home following the Gaza flotilla, Peck insisted the mission was purely a humanitarian one. And in an interview with Fox News, he again asserted, “the whole purpose [of the flotilla] was to get humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.”

Of course, his fellow American flotilla participant, Greta Berlin, has repeatedly said that theirs was not a humanitarian mission, but one meant to break Israel’s maritime blockade on Gaza.

Peck made no mention of the flotilla participants and their extremist affiliations. Discussing the violent incident on the Mavi Marmara — an event which he did not himself witness —  Peck said “the people on the ship were defending a peaceful effort to bring humanitarian aid.”

In a Fox News interview, he again insisted the passengers on the Mavi Marmara were merely “defending the ship. It was Israelis who were attacking. ” Of course, the films released by the Israeli Defense Forces and the pictures released by the Turkish groups show an entirely different story, in which Israeli soldiers are brutalized and attacked by groups with knives, metal bars and sticks the moment they land on the ship.

Peck also distorted facts when he argued that the Israelis “could have said ‘stop the ship” and that “they could have ordered it to turn around” but the flotilla was never given that chance.

In fact, the IDF has released earlier radio communications with the flotilla, in which an Israeli naval officer warns them that they are approaching an area which is under a naval blockade. A response from one of the boats is heard saying “Shut up. Go back to Auschwitz.”

But of course, this does not fit in with Mr. Peck’s narrative.

Peck’s defense of terrorists while condemning Israel and the U.S. raises a red flag.. Interviewers should be informed of his background and question him appropriately so that informed audiences can properly judge the credibility of his account.

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