When I was editor of The Jewish State, I praised Barack Obama’s nomination of Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. I did so for two main reasons: I thought Clinton had a better understanding of the region than just about anyone else Obama would have appointed (it’s not like the leftist professor-president was going to appoint John Bolton), and because Clinton’s strong personality would keep Joe Biden away from Mideast policymaking.
Here’s what I wrote about Biden at the time:
Biden has spent 35 years in the U.S. Senate, and in that time has accumulated an almost perfect record on foreign affairs: he has, by any honest account, never been right. He opposed helping anti-communist and anti-Soviet groups during the Cold War. He called the surge in Iraq a “tragic mistake,” and advocated splitting Iraq into three states, thus offering the state on a silver platter to Iran.
Biden also famously, three weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, offered this at his committee meeting: “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran.” The New Republic’s Michael Crowley recalled the immediate reaction of the room to this idea.
“He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face,” Crowley described. Then, according to Crowley, one by one staffers begin to point out the obvious flaws in that idea: it’s a transparent publicity stunt; the Iranians would send it back, embarrassing us; that day the Iranians were in Moscow negotiating an arms deal to which the U.S. was strongly opposed. “But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.”
It was vitally important to keep Biden away from the Middle East. Clinton is both stronger and smarter than Biden. And Biden wasn’t the only threat. Obama himself made a snarky, silly comment about Likud during the election which indicated that if Bibi Netanyahu became prime minister again, Obama would do what Bill Clinton did: spend most of his time in office trying to overthrow the elected Israeli prime minister (which, by the way, is exactly what Obama ended up trying to do).
And of course there was John Kerry angling for the job of secretary of state as well. Enough said.
But to be fair to Hillary, there was another reason to be happy with her as secretary of state: there was always the chance she’d be good at it. That’s because the one issue that almost no one puts any emphasis on at the diplomatic level is also the one issue that absolutely must be addressed if there is to be any chance at Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation—and it’s also an issue Hillary actually indicated she may do something about: Palestinian anti-Semitic incitement:
“Using children as pawns in a political process is tantamount to child abuse, and we must say it has to end now.”
Hillary said that to the annual AIPAC conference in 2005. No American official had ever taken such a strong stand on Palestinian incitement—likening it to child abuse. It was smart, creative, and tough—all things Clinton seemed to be.
Without an end to incitement, there is no serious case to be made that peace is on the horizon. When Palestinian children are brainwashed to think of Jews as usurpers and less than human, they grow up to slit the throats of young Jewish children, as happened to the Fogel family. (Though to be fair to the Palestinians, the media also regards settlers as less than human, which is why they mostly ignored the gruesome slayings.)
Of course, a few months later, I was eating crow, when Clinton went back before the AIPAC faithful and explained that, for now, Jews had no right to live in certain parts of their eternal capital, Jerusalem. On Israel, Clinton had become just as miserable a secretary of state as most of her predecessors—though most of them had not even taken the rare step of declaring parts of Jerusalem Judenrein.
What had happened to Clinton? Well, as I explained, she was no longer running for Senate from New York. She was free to be herself—and herself was an unbearably condescending bully (she spent 45 minutes upbraiding Bibi for a housing decision he had nothing to do with).
But now she can put her money where her mouth is on incitement. More than a quarter of the Senate (including her replacement in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand) have signed on to a letter asking Clinton to please do her job. It should be interesting to see if Clinton is at all still concerned about the “child abuse,” or if she’s perfectly comfortable with the systematic abuse of Palestinian children.
The following is the text of the letter with its signatories:
Dear Secretary Clinton:
In the wake of this month’s brutal terrorist murders of a Jewish family in Itamar and the terrorist bombing of a civilian bus in Jerusalem, we are writing with serious concern over continuing incitement directed against Jews and Israel within the Palestinian media, mosques and schools, and even by individuals or institutions affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA). We would like to know what specific steps you are taking to press for an end to this dangerous incitement.
Palestinian incitement includes the glorification of terrorists and jihad, and anti-Semitic stereotypes in the Palestinian media. There are a number of examples of Palestinian incitement over the last year listed in an index established by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office.
On March 9, 2011, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor, Sabri Saidam, delivered a speech in which he emphasized that Palestinian weapons must be turned towards Israel. Saidam reportedly demanded that the Palestinian people be attentive to the living conditions of martyrs’ families and said that the anniversary of the death of Dalal Mughrabi (one of the perpetrators of a 1978 coastal highway massacre) should be marked by inaugurating a square in her name in the city of El-Bireh.
On February 9, 2011, the official Palestinian television station broadcast a clip from a campaign entitled “Women as Exemplars,” during which Dalal Mughrabi (see above) was extolled. In the summer of 2010, several children’s summer camps were named after her.
On January 24, 2011, the Governor of Jenin issued a Presidential Grant worth $2,000 to the family of a Palestinian terrorist, Khaldoun Samoudi, who was killed while trying to detonate two bombs against Israeli soldiers at the Beka’ot Crossing.
On January 2, 2011, Al Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, attended a gathering on the 46th anniversary of the establishment of Fatah during which models of settlement buildings were blown up. He reportedly reviewed terrorist attacks perpetrated by Fatah and said that, “Fatah is a mass movement which believed in popular revolution and wrested its right to use all means of resistance in order to achieve its aim.”
Although President Abbas has expressed his sorrow over the Itamar massacre, the Palestinian Authority must take unequivocal steps to condemn the incident and stop allowing the incitement that leads to such crimes. Educating people toward peace is critical to establishing the conditions to a secure and lasting peace.
The Itamar massacre was a sobering reminder that words matter, and that Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel can lead to violence and terror. We urge you to redouble your efforts to impress upon the Palestinian leadership that continuing to condone incitement is not tolerable. We also urge you to consider focusing adequate training and educational programs in the West Bank and Gaza that promote peaceful coexistence with Israel.
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Barbara A. Mikulski
Mary L. Landrieu
James E. Risch
Charles E. Schumer
James M. Inhofe
Joseph L. Lieberman
Frank R. Lautenberg
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Benjamin L. Cardin
Patrick J. Toomey