Yesterday Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Washington at the Saban Forum of Brookings that included more pandering to Israel than any speech I’ve heard from any American politician. It was endless. Israel is a brave democracy, a light unto the nations, a miracle, its “prowess in war” is “inspiring,” and we must take the US-Israel relationship to the “next level.”
Introduced by her good friend the Israeli-American megadonor, Haim Saban, Clinton bragged that she and Israel were born a few months apart, gave a shoutout to Israel’s former lawyer in the White House, Dennis Ross, and assured Ari Shavit the rightwing Israeli columnist that the military option was still on the table with Iran. In fact, she repeatedly slammed Iran as a bad actor and did all she could to distance herself from the Iran deal and from secretary of state John Kerry, who gave a more realistic speech the day before. She never mentioned the occupation, vaguely touched on settlements as a problem, and praised the late Clintonite Sandy Berger as a “steadfast friend to Israel.”
Just as the Republican candidates had attacked Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) at the Republican Jewish Coalition last week, Clinton said that BDS was hurting the U.S.’s ability to fight terrorism. This is language straight out of Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
Speaking of Netanyahu, Clinton was asked by Saban what she would do on her first day in office and she said dutifully:
on the first day I would extend an invitation to the Israeli prime minister to come to the United States hopefully within the first month, certainly as soon as it could be arranged to do exactly what I briefly outlined. To work toward very much strengthening and intensifying our relationship on military matters, on terrorism and on everything else that we can do more to cooperate on that will send a strong message to our own peoples as well as the rest of the world. So that is on my list for the first day.
Here are more incredible pander quotes. Now and forever we’re together, Clinton says; she’s even visited Israeli terror victims in hospitals:
yes, we stand with our ally and true friend Israel now and forever. Of course, Israel is no stranger to terrorism. I’ve sat in Israeli hospital rooms and held the hands of victims wounded by terrorist attacks, listening to doctors as they sometimes even showed me x-rays describe how much shrapnel was left in a leg, an arm, or a head. Today Israel faces growing threats in its own neighborhood.
She describes the latest wave of violence as occurring “inside Israel itself.” Though many of these attacks have been in occupied territories.
The boycott movement against Israel is making our alliance with Israel “more indispensable than ever”. Here is where she suggests that BDS is hurting US efforts to fight terrorism:
In this period of period of peril, Israel needs a strong America by its side, and America needs a strong and secure Israel by our side. It’s in our national interest to have an Israel that remains a bastion of stability and a core ally in a region in chaos. An Israel strong enough to deter its enemies, and strong enough to take steps in the pursuit of peace. We need a brave democracy whose perseverance and pluralism are a rebuke to every extremist and tyrant. We need a light unto the nations as darkness threatens. Today three trends in the region and the world are converging and making our alliance with Israel more indispensable than ever. The first is a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, from North Africa to South Asia. The second is Iran’s continued aggression.
The third is the growing effort to delegitimize Israel on the world stage. America and Israel need to address these threats together. We must take an already strong relationship to the next level. We have to develop a common, strategic vision and pursue a coordinated approach, deepen our cooperation and consultation across the board.
Why is fighting BDS an American interest? Clinton never says, though she links the movement with anti-Semitism globally.
As Secretary of State I called out systemic structural anti-Israel basis at the UN and fought to block the one sided Goldstone report particularly at a time when anti-semitism is on the rise across the world especially in Europe. We need to repudiate efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS is the latest front in this battle. Demonizing Israeli scientists and intellectuals, even young students, comparing Israel to South African apartheid, now no nation is above criticism. But this is wrong and it should stop immediately.
And as for diplomacy, she says that no outside pressure should be brought on Israel:
Some proponents of BDS may hope that pressuring Israel may lead to peace. Well that’s wrong too. No outside force is going to resolve the conflict between Israeli’s and Palestinian’s. Only a two state solution can provide Palestinian’s independence, sovereignty and dignity and provide Israelis the secure and recognized borders of a democratic Jewish state.
She says the two state solution is the only answer. And she’ll never give up. Though she pointedly did not echo the Obama administration’s citation of the ’67 borders.
I refuse to give up on the goal of two states for two peoples and no matter how unattainable it may seem at the moment Israelis and Palestinians shouldn’t give up on it either. Instead they should demand their leaders seek every opportunity to demonstrate their commitment. Inaction is not an option and a one state solution is no solution, it is a prescription for endless conflict. Israelis deserve security, recognition and a normal life free from terror and Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state in peace and dignity.
Tough talk about Arab neighbors:
It’s also time to stop pretending that solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will solve all of the middle-east’s problems. For too long Arab states have used the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an excuse to avoid facing their own challenges at home. The people of the region have shown that they will no longer accept this. Their leaders should drop the excuses and pick up the pace of getting their own houses in order
Obama was just a fly on the windshield of the special relationship;
we can see how Israel’s search for security, stability and peace goes hand in hand with the broader effort the United States must lead to secure and stabilize the middle east. Now we know our governments have had their share of disagreements in recent years, but the relationship has always been stronger and deeper than… So let’s expand high level U.S. Israel strategic consultations. Bring our best minds together for deeper discussions about enforcing the nuclear deal, countering Iran’s regional ambitions and developing new defense technologies for the future. If Israel and the United States stand shoulder to shoulder and present a united front to the region and the world I’m confident we can meet the threats and challenges we face today.
Clinton and Israel were born within months of each other. Israel is a miracle and a democracy and we are joined at the hip spiritually and militarily:
I was born just a few months before the state of Israel and my generation came of age admiring the talent and tenacity of the Israeli people. We marveled as you coaxed a dream into reality out of the harsh dessert soil and built a thriving raucous democracy in a region full of adversaries and autocrats determined to push Israel into the sea. We watched a small nation fight fearlessly for its right to exist and Israel’s pursuit of peace was inspiring as its prowess in war…
Many Americans feel a deep emotional connection with Israel. In its story we see some of our own and we see the story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination. We see a homeland for people long oppressed and a thriving economy that is a model for how innovation, entrepreneurship and freedom can delivery prosperity even in unforgiving circumstances. So we are two nations woven together. Lands built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom, given life by democratic principles and sustained by the service and sacrifice of generations of patriots. Yet even with all this history, with all our common interests and shared values none of us can or should take our relationship for granted.
Some of this language is defensive. Clinton knows that the Democratic base doesn’t care about Israel:
With every passing year we must tie bonds tighter, reach out to the next generation to bring them with us and do the hard necessary work of friendship because there is a new generation in both countries today that does not remember that shared past… Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Well, tonight is the first night of Hanukah and the Jewish people and Israel and all over the world praise the almighty for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts. This season and this moment in history is a time once again for mighty deeds and saving acts. For us to rededicate and renew our great alliance. For us once again to light candles of hope that will shine through the darkness for our peoples and all peoples if we do it together.
So Clinton is completely flouting the Democratic base. Because she feels secure inside the party on this issue. Imagine if she insulted Black Lives Matter in the way she’s insulting Palestinian-Americans and Arab-Americans. There would be an uprising in her own base. I have to believe that uprising will come on this issue too. As it is, Clinton is using fear to try and strengthen the U.S. Israel relationship even more.
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) December 6, 2015
After her speech, Jewish Insider caught Clinton talking about BDS to Norman Brownstein, a Denver lawyer and VP of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. She calls BDS “very insidious.”
Thanks to Annie Robbins.