Israel Supporters: Beware of Hillary

Published July 29, 2014

National Review Online

In the last several weeks, I’ve heard people confidently declare that the 70 percent of Jewish Americans who voted for Obama are finally sorry. I’m skeptical, but even if they are, they’re probably telling themselves that Hillary Clinton would be a better friend to the Jewish state than the current president.

They have short memories. Remember the way First Lady Hillary Clinton sat mute while Suha Arafat accused Israelis of poisoning children? She then embraced Arafat and kissed her on both cheeks.

Mrs. Clinton learned to mouth the right words when seeking a Senate sinecure from the (heavily Jewish) state of New York, and later the presidency. But her recent book and interviews suggest that her sympathies are by no means clear, and her judgment is worse.

She refers in her book to the relative birth rates in Israel and the Palestinian territories and concludes that “we are approaching the day when Palestinians would make up a majority of the combined population of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and most of those Palestinians would be relegated to second-class citizenship and unable to vote.” This is an old canard, echoed by John Kerry. The demographics are almost certainly wrong (Israel’s population growth has been steady, while the Palestinians’ has been falling), but the politics are pernicious. Israel’s Arab citizens have full rights. They vote, own property, comment in the newspapers, and serve in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court. Some even fight in the IDF. One of the heroes of the current conflict is Colonel Ghassan Alian, a Druze.

Palestinians, who are not citizens of Israel, vote for their own leadership . . . at least once. If they don’t vote more frequently, it’s because they have a corrupt political culture. If they’d abandon their ambition to wipe Israel off the map, they’d have an independent state — though whether it would be democratic is another matter. Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East in which Arabs regularly cast free votes.

What of Mrs. Clinton’s judgment? Charlie Rose interviewed her a week or so ago and demanded to know whether the administration “had done enough to prevent an invasion of Gaza.” Clinton never challenged the premise. A friend of Israel (or any fair-minded person) might have said, “The better question is: Have we done enough to defend help the Middle East’s lone island of democracy and pluralism from the ceaseless terror attacks and rocketing by anti-Semitic, Islamist fanatics?”

Mrs. Clinton went on to offer her preferred diplomatic course — and guess what? — it’s indistinguishable from John Kerry’s. Whom should the U.S. encourage to serve as interlocutors? Why, Qatar and Turkey, said Mrs. Clinton. That would be the same Qatar that is the chief financial backer of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. And that would be the same Turkey that is a cheerleader and supporter of Hamas, whose prime minister recently declared that Israel had “surpassed Hitler in barbarism.”

Not only is Clinton’s advice inconsistent with friendship toward Israel, it’s also inexplicable as a matter of American interests. As the alliances are shifting in the region, there is a rare agreement among Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and the Palestinian Authority that Israel ought to be permitted to disarm and neutralize the threat from Hamas. Yet there was John Kerry, all smiles in Paris with the Turkish foreign minister. He later submitted a ceasefire proposal to both sides that even the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz said “could have written by [Hamas leader] Khaled Meshal.” It would have recognized Hamas as the legitimate leadership in Gaza, promised billions more in funding, and required no dismantling of rockets or the terror tunnels Hamas has spent the previous international “humanitarian aid” donations building.

The Israeli cabinet, which had accepted five ceasefires, including one proposed by Egypt, rejected this one. So the U.S. position is more damaging to Israel than that proposed by Egypt.

What was Mrs. Clinton’s rationale for suggesting that we rely on Qatar and Turkey? “Hamas may feel like they’re totally cornered,” she explained. “They’ve got Egypt on one side and Israel (and I don’t blame them at all) . . . on the other.” Mr. Kerry seems to agree. His diplomacy (including perhaps the temporary closing of Ben Gurion airport) seems to have been aimed at making Hamas feel empowered.

They make no distinction between the arsonist and the firefighter, and when it comes to voting, we should make no distinction between the Obamas and the Clintons.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. © 2014 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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