Menu JTA Search

Op-Ed: Hillary Clinton’s troubling transformation

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Hillary Rodham Clinton as New York’s U.S. senator from 2001 to 2009 was a reliable and vocal supporter of Israel. She was especially strong on Jerusalem, stating in a September 2007 position paper, “I believe that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, must never be questioned.”

Her spokesman said the paper "is a reflection of her consistent policy" and "that hasn’t changed.”

Clinton also repeatedly warned of the monumental dangers of Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder of Israeli Jews in their schools, media and mosques as having “dire consequences for peace for generations to come.” She even said, “It is clear that the Palestinian Authority, as we see on PATV, is complicit” in terrorist attacks and that we should condition U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority on a “cessation of Palestinian propaganda and hateful rhetoric.”

It took only a matter of weeks to confirm that on Israel, Secretary of State Clinton bears little resemblance to Senator Clinton.

Now she enthusiastically supports an unconditional increase in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, to $900 million a year — a significant increase. This week, after criticizing Israel for not opening up border crossings to Hamas-controlled Gaza while Hamas rockets were still flying, she demanded Israel allow illegally built Palestinian Arab homes in eastern Jerusalem while demanding that Israel stop allowing legally built Israeli/Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem. Such Jewish construction, she said, was “unhelpful.” (Even the very liberal Israeli Supreme Court has upheld Israel’s right to demolish these illegal structures.)

Suddenly, parts of an “undivided Jerusalem” are places where Jews may not move or build, even though Jews were a majority in eastern Jerusalem from the mid-1800s until 1948 — when Jordan forced the Jewish residents to flee — and again are the majority. Jerusalem has always been the religious, historical and political capital of the Jewish people.

Secretary Clinton justifies her criticism of Jewish building by reference to the 2003 "road map" peace plan, which she claims Israel is not fulfilling. Yet the road map, which Israel only accepted with 14 published reservations, calls for a freeze on Israeli settlement activity while simultaneously requiring various obligations to be fulfilled by the Arab states and the Palestinian Authority — obligations they have not fulfilled.

These include ending incitement against Israel, confiscating illegal weapons, cutting off all funding to terror groups and an immediate call for an end to all violence against Israelis.

Senator Clinton took these violations seriously, especially the incitement. As she said in an October 2003 Senate committee hearing at which I testified, “How can you think about building a better future, no matter what your political views, if you indoctrinate your children to a culture of death?”

And again, in February 2007: “We must stop the propaganda … in idealizing for children a world without Israel," adding that "children are taught never to accept the reality of the State of Israel."

Clinton went on to say, "We cannot build a peaceful, stable, safe future on such a hate-filled, violent and radical foundation" and that "there has still not been an adequate repudiation of this by the Palestinian Authority.”

Yet since becoming secretary of state, Clinton has failed to utter a word on Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder. Thus, when interviewed this week on a P.A. teen television show and asked, “What would you do if your daughter was unfortunate enough to have been born under occupation, born deprived of freedom and liberty?” Secretary Clinton legitimized the question’s false premise and actually helped incite hatred against Israel by not refuting it and ignoring the fact that 98 percent of Palestinians actually live under the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, not Israeli control.

Instead, Clinton responded, “Well, I would do what so many parents here in the West Bank and in Gaza do. I would love her … I would get the best education I could for her … I would never give up on the dream of a Palestinian state.”

That an alarming number of Palestinian parents have encouraged their children to become suicide bombers was somehow lost from Secretary Clinton’s response.

Why is Secretary Clinton publicly criticizing Israel’s alleged violations of the road map while ignoring the almost complete violation by the Palestinian Authority, not only of the road map but of every written commitment it has signed from Oslo to Wye to Annapolis?

Secretary of State Clinton is deaf to the words that Senator Clinton once passionately uttered. It is notable that Secretary Clinton’s recent criticisms of Israel impelled Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News, to say that he was surprised by some of her recent statements.

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat, observed, “I liked her a lot more as a senator from New York."

Hikind also mused, "Now I wonder … who the real Hillary Clinton is.”

NEXT STORY