In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly defended Israel’s war against Hamas and identified anti-Semitism as a motivating factor behind many of the demonstrations against Israel.
Clinton’s initial response to the question as to whether or not Israel was justified in launching Operation Protective Edge was:
“I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” she told me. “Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult.”
In response to whether or not Israel was doing enough to protect civilians, Clinton responded, “I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.”
Clinton observed the relative silence of the world in response to greater ongoing humanitarian catastrophes.
“It is striking … that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. … You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member-state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair.”
She went on, “You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV.” Clinton also blamed Hamas for “stage-managing” the conflict. “What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel.”
In what might be the most surprising response of the exchange about Israel, given her criticism in office of settlements, Clinton supported Israel’s continued security control over the West Bank, “If I were the prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security,” and that Fatah “… does not protect Israel from the influx of Hamas or cross-border attacks from anywhere else. With Syria and Iraq, it is all one big threat. So Netanyahu could not do this in good conscience.” This is consistent with the Israeli government’s insistence on maintaining security control of the Jordan Valley as part of any peace deal with the Palestinian Authority.
[Photo: Marc Nozell / Flickr ]