Driving in Neutral: Hillary Clinton Explains the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
Thus ran her praise for Israel’s efforts. So then, in the spirit of even-handedness embraced by recent presidents in place of a former pro-Israel policy, she has to balance out this statement. When a Democratic politician has to be hyper-sensitive about saying something nice about Israel, it tells you how much things have shifted in that party and in the “liberal” context:
I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.
She makes four points:
Israelis have missed opportunities. Really, like what? If she’s aware of real ones, Clinton can provide examples, but while it is easy to list two dozen Palestinian missed opportunities — i.e., Israel was ready for real peace and they weren’t — the effort to provide some opposite example always turns out to be illusory.
Lack of generosity: This is shameful. First of all, since when is generosity an international diplomatic norm? Against what other country or people would she dare make such a statement? On further consideration, if generosity means being nice or making unilateral concessions to enemies that wish to destroy you, then the Obama administration is very generous.
But in fact Israel has been generous. It has freed large numbers of Palestinian prisoners to get back kidnapped Israelis; it let around 200,000 Palestinians come to the territories after 1993; it has used much less force than it might have; it has largely ignored continuous incitement against itself and not responded in kind. The list is a long one.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, not exactly a left-winger, even fully withdrew from the Gaza Strip and dismantled Jewish settlements in large part to give the Palestinians a chance to A) develop that area, B) see that Israel did not want the territories, and C) provide an opportunity to build a basis for peace.
Who in the world has been generous toward Israel?
Lack of empathy: This is really low on Clinton’s part. In schools, Israeli kids learn about Palestinian grievances. Israel television showed a multi-part history documentary that showed the Palestinian viewpoint. In Israeli newspapers and every other medium Palestinians are interviewed and an honest attempt is made to portray their standpoint, sometimes indeed with more sympathy than is given to Israel’s government.
Every Israeli leader, except those on the right-wing fringe, is perfectly aware of the Palestinian case and complaints. To cite only one example, Ehud Barak once said that if he had been a Palestinian he would have been a fighter in Fatah. No country in modern history has shown more empathy to its enemies.
Can anyone cite a single example — a speech, an article — on the Palestinian side that has shown any shred of empathy?
Finally, “oppressed people” and this is the most important point. If the Palestinians are an oppressed people, who is oppressing them? Here we see how the Obama administration has, at best, accepted the European version of the anti-Israel narrative. If the Palestinians keep turning down peace offers, how is Israel responsible for their “oppression”?
If they are oppressed, it is by their own leaders. Who oppresses the population of the Gaza Strip?
And once you have “the pain of an oppressed people,” it is a short step toward believing that terrorism and intransigence are just expressions of that pain, rather than the cause of it.