The two candidates leading their respective parties primaries spoke at the AIPAC. Both got a number of standing ovations. Clinton and Trump got loud applause for making a similar observations on Iran which played to the audience:
TRUMP: Do you want to hear something really shocking? As many of the great people in this room know, painted on those missiles in both Hebrew and Farsi were the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.” You can forget that.
CLINTON: Those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and I quote, “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.” We know they could reach Israel or hit the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in the Middle East. This is a serious danger and it demands a serious response.
Reading the speeches side by side, I am struck by the similarities. Some of the loudest applause was reserved for comments demonizing Palestinians. Here’s Hillary:
CLINTON: This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear. Just a few weeks ago, a young American veteran and West Point graduate named Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist near the Jaffa Port. These attacks must end immediately…
And Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families.
You should listen to her deliver these lines and note the tone she uses when discussing Palestinians. Here’s Trump saying much the same thing:
TRUMP: And further, it would reward Palestinian terrorism because every day they’re stabbing Israelis and even Americans. Just last week, American Taylor Allen Force, a West Point grad, phenomenal young person who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was murdered in the street by a knife-wielding Palestinian. You don’t reward behavior like that. You cannot do it.
Meanwhile, every single day you have rampant incitement and children being taught to hate Israel and to hate the Jews. It has to stop.
For both Hillary and Trump, Palestinians are either terrorists, intransigent politicians, or inciters and terrorist sympathizers. When Clinton did bring up the never-ending two-state peace “process”, she was careful to quickly come back to caricaturing Palestinians as “terrorists” and “inciters”.
CLINTON: All of us need to look for opportunities to create the conditions for progress, including by taking positive actions that can rebuild trust — like the recent constructive meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministers aiming to help bolster the Palestinian economy, or the daily on-the-ground security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
But at the same time, all of us must condemn actions that set back the cause of peace. Terrorism should never be encouraged or celebrated, and children should not be taught to hate in schools. That poisons the future.
It seems conscripting 17 year olds into an army that has run a 50 year long military occupation of millions of civilians isn’t incitement or “teaching hate”, and doesn’t merit a rebuke. After rushing through a non-judgemental statement about Israeli settlements, Hillary rushed to add that the terms of any negotiations must be set by Israel and Israel alone:
CLINTON: Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear — I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.
Does this count as telling Netanyahu to “cut it out” on settlements? Maybe it will in a few years. When Hillary does discuss the benefits of an Israeli/Palestinian settlement, it’s about how it will benefit Israel in its relations with other Middle-Eastern states. Nary a thought for alleviating the daily and oppressive suffering borne by Palestinians.
By now, you’ve caught on to the theme here, Trump has precisely the same view:
TRUMP: Let me be clear: An agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster.
The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto, which I will use as president 100 percent.
When speaking about the Israeli/US relationship, both Trump and Clinton used similar terms, talking about taking the relationship “to the next level”:
TRUMP: When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one. [...]
I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately. I have known him for many years and we’ll be able to work closely together to help bring stability and peace to Israel and to the entire region. [...]
And we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel.
CLINTON: And we will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.[...]
That’s why I believe we must take our alliance to the next level. [...]
One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House. And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the joint chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security.
The “no daylight between us” line was trademarked by George W. Bush, so they had to go with the weaker don’t “think a wedge can be driven”.
Maybe I’m being a bit too hard. Trump did promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. It is in Tel Aviv, and the status of Jerusalem is, shall we say messy under international law. Hillary didn’t mention moving the embassy in this speech, but she made the same promise back in 1999 when she was considering her NY senate run. On the other hand, he did not promise to clamp down on civil disobedience and “battle” the BDS movement, that sister-Souljah moment was left up to Hillary. On Iran, they both heaped scorn on the Iranian regime, the difference was Hillary did it while supporting the P-5 deal brokered by Obama/Kerry to lift sanctions. Trump called it a “terrible deal”. But they have similar paths forward charted out:
TRUMP: Iran is a problem in Iraq, a problem in Syria, a problem in Lebanon, a problem in Yemen and will be a very, very major problem for Saudi Arabia. Literally every day, Iran provides more and better weapons to support their puppet states. Hezbollah, Lebanon [...]
Third, at the very least, we must enforce the terms of the previous deal to hold Iran totally accountable. And we will enforce it like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me
CLINTON: But still, as I laid out at a speech at the Brookings Institution last year, it’s not good enough to trust and verify. Our approach must be distrust and verify.
This deal must come with vigorous enforcement, strong monitoring, clear consequences for any violations and a broader strategy to confront Iran’s aggression across the region. We cannot forget that Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.
If you find this all very depressing, there is a ray of light, and it comes from Bernie.
One claim we’ve heard repeatedly during this cycle is that the Sanders and Trump candidacies are somehow similar. There is a diary on the rec list making that comparison. Whatever you may think of that, it’s quite clear that on this important foreign policy subject, Hillary’s and Trump‘s policies that are virtually identical. There is no daylight when it comes to Trump and Clinton on I/P.
In stark contrast, Bernie Sanders’ speech and it’s delivery (away from the conference and in a measured cadence) were radically different in both tone and substance.
For one thing, Bernie starts off talking about Palestinians as ordinary people with ordinary cares, something neither Hillary nor Trump deigned to do.
But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.
So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of suffering among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.
In contrast to both Hillary and Trump, Bernie does see a role for the international community in Israel/Palestine. He is also specific and pointed about Israeli actions and their impact on Palestinians. No other presidential candidate discusses the concerns of Palestinians as people. The rest of them see Palestinians only as terrorists, or unreliable politicians. Here’s Bernie, in stark contrast:
Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism.
But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.
Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.
That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.
It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.
But, by the same token, it is also unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be the ending of violence.
Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.
Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water.
Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.
And finally, Bernie actually mentioned the many civilians, including hundreds of children killed by Netanyahu’s forces last year in Gaza. Many were murdered in their beds and homes by American-supplied precision munitions. American politicians have been shocked by Trump’s assertion that the US should “go after” and “take out” the families of terrorists. But in numerous instances last year, and since 2002, the Israeli armed forces have dropped bombs on homes to assassinate an individual, knowing full well this would kill children and civilians. This is what Trump is proposing we do as well. It is a war crime, perpetrated by our “closest ally” in the region. None of the other presidential candidates had anything to say about it:
However, let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.
Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and
As some of you know, I follow Israel/Palestine issues closely. I read Hillary’s remarks and they were pretty much what I expected. But I would urge you to listen to her speech and note the delivery. It is remarkably harsh whenever she discusses Palestinians. I was shocked by the cadence of the speech.
Hillary also tried to take a jab at Bernie in her speech:
Candidates for president who think the United States can outsource Middle East security to dictators, or that America no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong.
Bernie’s response was in the written remarks he delivered off-site:
While the U.S. has an important role to play in defeating ISIS, that struggle must be led by the Muslim countries themselves on the ground. I agree with King Abdullah of Jordan who a number of months ago that what is going on there right now is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Islam and the only people who will effectively destroy ISIS there will be Muslim troops on the ground.
So what we need is a coalition of those countries.
Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or any other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.
What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS.
What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – Qatar which per capita is the wealthiest nation in the world – Qatar can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. If they are prepared to spend $200 billion for a soccer tournament, then they have got to spend a lot spend a lot more against a barbaric organization.