Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Hillary Strikes Out

Hillary Clinton at Saban

Driving in Neutral: Hillary Clinton Explains the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
-Barry Rubin, PhD

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s said some very interesting and revealing things in her appearance at the Saban Center’s gala dinner, November 30. They are, however, being quoted out of context. Let’s look at what she actually said in some detail for a sense of how the Obama Administration's highest-ranking foreign policy official and a future presidential candidate thinks about this issue.

[She stated:]
Now, would it have been a perfectly acceptable outcome for every Israeli and every Palestinian? No. No compromise ever is. But there were moments of opportunity. And I will also say this. When Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze I flew to Jerusalem. We’d been working on this. George Mitchell had been taking the lead on it. And when Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze, it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t cover East Jerusalem, but it covered much of the contested area in the West Bank.”

There’s something important in this passage that no one has noticed. For the first time ever, Clinton publicly and explicitly acknowledged that the freeze did not cover East Jerusalem. Why, then, did Vice-President Joe Biden throw a temper tantrum when an Israeli zoning board cleared some future construction there? At the time, the U.S. government repeatedly implied that Israel violated the agreement, which it didn’t. Now Clinton admits that.
Incidentally, the Obama Administration did nothing when the Palestinian Authority refused to negotiate seriously despite the freeze on construction.
[She continued:]
I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.”
She [made] four points [in the above statement]:
1. Israelis have missed opportunities. Really, like what? If she’s aware of real ones Clinton can provide examples but while it is easy to list two dozen Palestinian missed opportunities—i.e., Israel was ready for real peace and they weren’t—the effort to provide some opposite example always turns out to be illusory.

2. Lack of generosity: This is shameful. First of all, since when is generosity an international diplomatic norm? Against what other country or people would she dare make such a statement?

But in fact Israel has been generous. It has freed large numbers of Palestinian prisoners to get back kidnapped Israelis; it let around 200,000 Palestinians come to the territories after 1993; it has used much less force than it might have; it has largely ignored continuous incitement against itself and not responded in kind. The list is a long one...
3. Lack of empathy: This is really low on Clinton’s part. In schools, Israeli kids learn about Palestinian grievances. Israel television showed a multi-part history documentary that showed the Palestinian viewpoint. In Israeli newspapers, and every other medium Palestinians are interviewed and an honest attempt is made to portray their standpoint.

Every Israeli leader, except those on the right-wing fringe, is perfectly aware of the Palestinian case and complaints. To cite only one example, Ehud Barak once said that if had been a Palestinians he would have been a fighter in Fatah. No country in modern history has shown more empathy to its enemies. Can anyone cite a single example—a speech, an article—on the Palestinian side that has shown any shred of empathy?
4. Finally, “oppressed people” and this is the most important point. If the Palestinians are an oppressed people who is oppressing them? Here we see how the Obama Administration has, at best, accepted the European version of the anti-Israel narrative. If the Palestinians keep turning down peace offers how is Israel responsible for their “oppression”?

If they are oppressed it is by their own leaders. And once you have “the pain of an oppressed people” it is a short step toward believing that terrorism and intransigence is just an expression of that pain, rather than the cause of it.
What is objectionable is not that she criticizes Israel—but the criticisms she makes. They all fall into the current dominant Western view that the world’s problems are caused by greedy, aggressive, unempathetic white people who oppress everyone else. Implied here is that the only solution is that such people take risks, make unilateral concessions, pay money, and continually apologize for their sins. And that’s a formula for disaster.
[Rubin Reports]

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