Getting Israel out of Palestinian territories, and subsequently negotiating a solution to the eternal stalemate, will require arbitrators, like the U.S., to be sure-footed and committed to principles of social justice and democratic ideals. It is not apparent that any of the 2016 presidential candidates are especially qualified to lead this process.
Particularly troubling is the duplicity of former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who seems most eager to wear the mantel of experience with the issues that prohibit a peace process.
Sandy Tolan, in her article for Truthdig, points to some of Clinton’s statements as cause for voters to be concerned about her potential actions as President:
I hereby present you with the 2016 campaign’s Best of Clinton:
- A promise to invite Netanyahu to the White House “during my first month in office” in order to “reaffirm” the “unbreakable bond with Israel”—no matter the prime minister’s attempts to embarrass and undermine President Obama by trying to scuttle the Iran deal. Or worse, Netanyahu’s devastation of Gaza during the summer of 2014, in which 521 children died, 108,000 Gazans lost their homes, 18,000 buildings were badly damaged or destroyed, and Israel’s destructive power, compared to all the rockets launched by Hamas, was an estimated 1,500 to 1.
- Virtual silence on the settlement issue in a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 conference. During the event, even Biden—he of the “absolute, total, unvarnished” support for Israel—decried the “steady and systematic process of expanding settlements.” By contrast, Clinton’s speech, a “symphony of craven, delusional pandering,” as Slate’s Michelle Goldberg put it, mentioned settlements only in the context of protecting Israel against its own violation of international law.
- An attack on Donald Trump from the right by denouncing Trump’s once-expressed wish to remain “neutral” over Israel/Palestine. “We need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who-knows-what on Wednesday, because everything’s negotiable,” Clinton told the AIPAC gathering.
- Unilateral condemnation of recent Palestinian aggression that has killed 28 Israelis. “Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home,” she said at AIPAC. “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence.” Yet she had not one word for the 188 Palestinians killed during the same period, some of them in extrajudicial executions by the Israeli military, including here, here and here. Nor did she utter the word “occupation,” under which Palestinians have been living for nearly half a century, and which has created a Jim Crow-like inequality that reminded then-Archbishop Desmond Tutu of apartheid South Africa.
- Equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, largely through condemnation of BDS(Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a nonviolent movement to confront Israel’s human rights abuses through direct economic and political pressure. (Would she prefer suicide bombers and rockets?) Never mind that the relatively modest movement has been endorsed by an assortment of international trade unions, scholarly associations,church groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and Tutu himself. At the root of BDS, Clinton hints darkly, is anti-Semitism. “At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world,” Clinton wrote in a letter to donor Haim Saban, “we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
It is evident that Clinton will not seriously contribute to the peace process but will continue down the path that leads the U.S. into more wars and less justice for Palestinians.
The American public needs to be much wiser than its leaders, more outspoken and more politically active to turn the tide toward peace and away from imperialistic enterprise in the Middle East.