Op Ed 2010 Opinion

JINSA REPORT #1030: Mr. Clinton, Spend Your Time Relieving Disasters Not Creating Them

By The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs

Bill Clinton was on his way to a terrific post-presidency. Working with George H.W. Bush on international aid, and more recently with George W. Bush on Haiti relief, Mr. Clinton was having an impact both on national and international well-being. What led him to open his mouth about Israel is unfathomable.

A few weeks ago in New York, Mr. Clinton said too many Russian immigrants to Israel, and particularly too many Russians in the Israel Defense Forces, had made Israel unwilling to make territorial compromises on the West Bank and thus sunk his chance to broker “peace” at Camp David II in 2000. He invoked the universally respected Natan Sharansky – former Soviet refusenik and prisoner, Israeli politician, human rights activist and author – to bolster his claim. Sharansky took the unusual step of publicly rebuking Mr. Clinton.
The charge was rubbish anyhow. Mr. Clinton himself, as well as his aides, made it clear at the time and again later that the Camp David II talks foundered when Yasser Arafat walked out on Ehud Barak’s offer of 95 percent of the disputed territory plus political accommodation in Jerusalem. Mr. Clinton had added the promise of American support and funding for resettlement of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in places other than the State of Israel. Arafat couldn’t accept the terms.
Actually, Mr. Clinton acknowledged as much this week at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, where he said the current talks were focused on what had, essentially, been his proposal in 2000. “They’re not even pretending now that they are not basically going to go back and take the modernized version I authored in 2000 that Israel accepted [emphasis added]… They blew 10 years and complicated the problem demographically by not doing this in 2000. It must be done,” he said.
Who are “They”? The Palestinians, clearly, but we dispute the principle. Despite the rise of Hamas and the Palestinian civil war it engendered, the problem is actually NOT more complicated today than it was then – and no further from resolution; no closer either. The problem was then and is now that the Palestinians – whether Arafat, Abu Mazen or Khaled Mashaal – believe the independence of Israel was a mistake that needs to be rectified. The Arab states feed that illusion by refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. That is the problem President Clinton faced and the one President Obama faces. The fact that they’re trying to establish a “missing” Palestinian state doesn’t mean that’s actually the problem.
Mr. Clinton inserted his foot further. According to the Associated Press he said “solving” the Palestinian problem “could result in Syria ending its support for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran turning back its controversial nuclear program. ‘It will take about half the impetus in the whole world, not just the region, the whole world, for terror to go away… It would have more impact by far than anything else that could be done.'”
Blaming the existence of Israel for half the world’s terrorism – not Arab rejection of the UN process under which Israel declared itself independent -is abhorrent. Blaming Israel for Syrian support of the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah – is absurd. Blaming Israel for Iranian nuclear policy – rather than Iran’s supranational belief in the spread of Shiite Islam and the restoration of the Caliphate – is ill-informed. Blaming Israel for jihad – not the jihadist schools of the Taliban, al Qaeda, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, places that have no particular interest in Palestinians or their problems – comes perilously close to blaming Israel for American deaths by the Taliban and/or al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It is contemptible and beneath a former American president.
Americans were far better served when Mr. Clinton spent his time in the service of international disaster relief, not creating international disasters by spewing nonsense in foreign countries.

This report is from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). www.jinsa.org.

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