Clinton’s foreign policy speech downplays Israel (and leaves out Palestine)

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Over the past 48 hours, we’ve been inundated by the news that Hillary Clinton would give a “major” foreign policy speech in California where, according to the latest polls, the Democratic primary race is running neck-and-neck. The truth is, despite a strong and well-carried-out performance (Fareed Zakaria said it’s “the strongest speech she’s ever made”), you could only look at her speech in two ways: It was an exemplary exercise of circumlocution, delivering vague and not-so-major remarks; or it was a major speech because of the things downplayed.

Of course, the concern was not foreign policy per se; the intended goal was to contrast Clinton’s résumé of this area with Trump’s “dangerously incoherent” blathering about other countries. The problem that leaves is simple: Clinton’s record and expertise are well established and known by many, especially those who remain undecided and skeptical about her. After all, their skepticism is fueled by what they believe is her mixed record on a variety of domestic and international issues. What remains to be known is what exactly will a Commander in Chief who received the largest sums – compared to other candidates – of campaign contributions from the weapons manufacturing and defense industries do around the world.

Clinton’s easy sell and decades-old pitch about “securing America” is not an answer, let alone anything “major.” It is self-evident that America wants to secure itself, as is the case with every other nation on Earth. What is needed more than ever before is an America that is better at securing itself. A series of Middle Eastern quagmires over the past 65 years, some while under Clinton’s watch as Secretary of State, serve to remind us that this kind of speeches can be awfully shortsighted and dishonest. For all we know, Clinton’s speech may have served its purpose already – to show that Trump is an idiot – without much expectation to hinge on it.

Another look, and perhaps more curious, considers the issues that were downplayed, most clearly among them is the question of Israel and Palestine. Predictably, Clinton made no mention of Palestine, Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, or the Two-State solution, all of which are words typically used to avert difficult questions about the occupation. Clinton only mentioned how she managed brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a “tough call” of the kind Trump can’t handle.

And, as you recall, Clinton made no mention of Palestine during her speech at the annual AIPAC conference and displayed a fierce tone during her New York faceoff with Bernie Sanders, in which she said regarding Israel’s disproportionate response during the 2014 war on Gaza:
They [Israel] do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite rockets raining down on their towns and villages. They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas, aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers, and they called and told me…they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anyone to talk to tell them to stop it…I don’t know how you run a country if you are under constant threat.”
However, in San Diego, Clinton dedicated far less time and passion to Israel, merely reiterating:
“The world must understand the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Israel’s security is nonnegotiable. We have a moral obligation to defend Israel.”
In another remark, Clinton said that Trump’s neutrality on Israel is “no small thing,” along with his comments on Mexicans, NATO, North Korea, Japan, China, and a dozen other problems.
What stands out in these recycled platitudes is that Israel’s place in the speech was pretty narrow, in addition to a suggestion that those who advocated for military action against Iran, (think: the pro-Israel/Netanyahu lobby, as they did against Iraq), would have been mistaken and “could have ignited a broader war.”
Contrast this with how Clinton emphasized the importance of allies: Japan and South Korea received the lion’s share of praise as allies that bring tangible benefits to the table:
“We worked closely with our allies, Japan and South Korea, to respond to this thread including why creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead should the leaders the reckless enough to launch one. The technology is ours. Key parts are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it and all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it. That is the power of allies.”
Whether intended or otherwise, it wasn’t difficult to miss how this stark disparity in assessing the importance of allies underscored the great cost of America’s longstanding unquestionable support of Israel, politically, economically, militarily, and morally around the globe – some would argue at no benefit comparable to other alliances, besides Israel being a highly valued electoral commodity here at home.

Here, Clinton’s speech could be interpreted along two ways, perhaps simultaneously. One, it could have been a genuine effort to highlight a central tenet of her foreign policy — continuing Obama’s agenda concerning America’s pivot to Asia. Or, it could have also been an effort divert attention from the consequences of the Sanders’ campaign, whose positions on Israel have already highlighted sharp differences between the Democratic candidates and their constituents.
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Hillary did mention very strongly that we have a moral obligation to protect Israel, and no mention about the helpless civilians who suffer from Israel’s occupation, the true victims.

That spoke volumes.

“Sanders Seeks ‘Compassion’ for Palestinians in Changes to Democrats’ Policy Member of the Democrats’ platform drafting committee says desired changes are about more than the two-state solution while Sanders surrogate says she plans to ‘act out’ if she’s excluded from process at convention. This article was originally published on Jewish Insider. The… Read more »

If this speech is considered by the Hillary supporters as her best speech ever on foreign policy then those fools are really grasping at straws. Besides not mentioning justice for Palestinians she made zero reference to Libya. Do note, that 18 months ago when her book came out she lauded… Read more »

There is a consensus among figures like Zakaria or Bill O Reily ,WaPo,NYT and WSJ that someone aspiring to be president would be at his or her best as a new ground breaking visionary bold foreign Policy strategist if the aspirant articulates followings- Total enduring overacting embrace of Israel Total… Read more »

Why would anyone care about the hypocritical slogans of this base woman? She is shallow like a dead oyster shell. Between her, and the hateful knucklehead Trump, America has no real choice. This country is doomed.