I just posted on why I don’t think what Bill Clinton said about Benjamin Netanyahu was all that controversial.
Jeff Ballabon wrote me (before I posted) to say why he thinks Clinton’s perceptions are emblematic of what he sees as the failures of Clinton’s presidency and of Oslo.
I’m not endorsing it, clearly, but it’s a succinct take on why a section of the Jewish community was heartbroken by Oslo. Below the jump:
Bill Clinton is lashing out against Israel in defense of perhaps the most calamitous bungle of his presidency: the ill-conceived spin job that tried to turn Yasser Arafat into a statesman and the PLO into a state.
Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton shocked the Jewish world when – in May 1998 – she became the first prominent American political figure to say that a Palestinian state was not inimical to America’s interest. Until then, every administration had openly opposed the madness of creating a new state on Israel’s most vulnerable border. The White House distanced itself from her remarks because they’d provoked such outrage. It soon, however, emerged as Bill Clinton’s scheme as well. Since then, fearful of losing US support, Israel has had no choice but to make the best of that disastrous policy: equating making peace with creating a 23rd Arab state. Inevitably and predictably, this strategy has become an objective unto itself – a matter of "suffrage" for Palestinian Arabs – rather than a strategy for peace.
After endless bloodshed on all sides, the radicalization and destabilization of the entire region and the demonization and deligitimization of America’s great ally Israel, rather than admit the "two-state" experiment has been a terrible failure, Clinton has ratcheted up the rhetoric. As the PLO/PA makes its bid for statehood – while partnered with Hamas and continuing to refuse any acceptance of the Jewish state – we have the spectacle of Bill Clinton himself charging endlessly conciliatory Israel as the world’s great oppressor and brushing off the security concerns of Israelis as just a rejectionist’s shibboleth. Like Obama inexplicably attacking Israel for building apartments in Jerusalem and snubbing the Israeli prime minister in Washington, Clinton wildly slandered not only the Israeli government, but included Israel’s supporters in Congress (almost all of whom are Republicans) who want to put Israel back in charge of deciding how to defend its citizens and make whatever peace it can with its neighbors.
Clinton’s statement this week demeaned Jews and was bizarre on its face – "the most pro peace Israelis are the Arabs"? This is not simply a question of being "pro-Israel" or "anti-Israel"; it is a question of understanding the region. Clinton never understood it and Obama doesn’t understand it. Their contemptuous dismissal of Israeli concerns reveals the underlying problem with Clinton’s original template: anyone who so easily discounts the role of faith and culture in human behavior, anyone who doesn’t understand that the Arabs simply do not want a Jewish state in their midst, anyone who doesn’t recognize that the Israelis would, on their own and without outside pressure, do anything and risk anything for real peace, simply lacks the common sense to understand why the forced creation of a Palestinian state is suicidal for the Jewish state.
The perilous travesty at the UN this week was surely provoked by Barack Obama’s loutish treatment of Israel, but only because Obama was following the Clinton experiment to its logical conclusion.
Quoting Jimmy Carter on Israel generally is distasteful, but it is instructive to look back and see what was obvious even to Carter in order to realize just how much damage the Clintons’ two-state folly has wrought on Israel:
“I am opposed to an independent Palestinian state, because in my own judgement and in the judgement of many leaders in the Middle East,including Arab leaders, this would be a destabilizing factor in the Middle East and would certainly not serve the United States interests.” (February 25, 1980).
“We oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state….We are committed to a Jerusalem that will forever remain undivided with free access to all faiths to the holy places. Nothing will deflect us from these fundamental principles and commitments.” (March 23, 1980).
Carter was wrong. The Clintons deflected us from our fundamental principles and commitments to Israel and much suffering has ensued. This week Bill Clinton merely added insult to injury.
Jeff Ballabon founded and ran the Coordinating Council on Jerusalem from 2007-2009.
A single caveat: I think Clinton meant that Arab Israelis are the Israelis who most favored his peace plan, which is provably true — not that they’re the most "pro-peace" as a characteristic.