David FriedmanThe writer serves as the President of American Friends of Bet El. He is a practicing trial lawyer in New York and maintains a residence in Jerusalem.
There is a particularly insidious piece of conventional wisdom currently circulating some corridors of the American pro-Israel establishment. It is the notion that, if elected president, Hillary Clinton will not be as “bad” for Israel as Barack Obama. This thinking is dangerously off track and, while it may be hard to imagine anyone worse for Israel than President Obama, Mrs. Clinton could easily fit that bill.
Here are just a few reasons why Hillary Clinton poses a much more serious threat to Israel than Barack Obama:
Obama was inept; Hillary is not: Yes, it is true, that Barack Obama worshipped in a church led by a virulent anti-Semite and has broken ranks with all his predecessors in publicly chastising, and even humiliating, Israel’s leaders. So his heart was certainly in the wrong place. But Obama had no ability to fully actualize his malevolence. His presidency was so unpopular that he lost control of the House of Representatives within two years and the Senate within six. And, after beginning his presidency with his infamous “apology tour” throughout the Arab Middle East, Obama quickly lost all credibility in the Muslim world and, with the exception of the “agreement” with Iran that was opposed by both Israel and Sunni Arab countries alike and mishandled by Congress, was without standing to coerce or punish Israel in any meaningful way.
Hillary is not nearly as incompetent as Obama. Unlike the current president, before she takes office Hillary already will have lived in the White House for eight years, served in the Senate for eight years and served as Secretary of State for four years. This is not a “community organizer” abruptly thrust into the most powerful position on earth without the credentials or the experience. No one should assume that Hillary Clinton will be incapable of achieving her foreign policy agenda in the clumsy manner of her predecessor. Mrs. Clinton, if known for anything at all, is known for her calculating, practical and effective approach to achieving her agenda. In sum, she will be a formidable adversary.
Hillary is no friend of Israel; I suppose that if Hillary were a reliable friend of Israel, it would be great to have such a cunning ally in the White House. Except that she’s not. Recent emails made public by the State Department, including those in which Mrs. Clinton considers the possibility of the United States inciting Arab unrest in Israel in order to “soften” Israel’s position, leave no room to doubt where she stands. Beyond that, who can forget Mrs. Clinton sitting in a joint conference with Suha Arafat, in rapt attention and with a glowing smile, as Mrs. Arafat accused Israel of putting poison in the baby formula of Arab children? To this day, she has never denounced that horrific blood libel in the manner it deserved.
Sure, you can find numerous platitudes attributed to Mrs. Clinton about the “historic and unbreakable alliance” between Israel and the United States, but those words are so highly nuanced as to be devoid of meaning. Hillary has repeatedly pushed for an indefensible “two state solution” under the guise that such a move is in Israel’s best interests. So don’t let the platitudes fool you – give more credence to the tens of millions of dollars given by rogue Arab states to the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary carries tremendous negative baggage; Politicians rarely reverse course. With someone as ego-maniacal as Mrs. Clinton, it is reasonable to assume she will double-down on past practice. For Israel, that would be a disaster. In simple terms, Obama’s foreign policy towards Israel was awful, and for the first half of the Obama presidency, that policy was directed by Hillary Clinton. The saying goes that insanity is repeating the same stimulus
It is safe to assume that Hillary will try to pick up where Bill left off, even though the world is a far different and more dangerous place.
and expecting a different response. So let’s please try not to be insane here.
On a more macro scale, let’s remember that, as his eight year presidency came to a close, Bill Clinton came up just short of achieving what would have been a catastrophic deal at the 2000 Camp David Summit as he arm-twisted Ehud Barak to make suicidal concessions to Yasser Arafat. It is safe to assume that Hillary will try to pick up where Bill left off, even though the world is a far different and more dangerous place.
If Hillary wins, she will be angry; Hillary already is not happy – she was expecting a coronation and instead finds herself fighting for her political life against a 74 year old socialist and under the cloud of indictment. It is abundantly evident from her demeanor (parodied so well by Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live) that Hillary feels entitled to the presidency after putting up with her husband’s public infidelities and then losing the primary fight to an upstart Obama in 2008. So if, God forbid, she wins, she will be looking for revenge against her detractors. Given how this election cycle is playing out, it is likely that the pro-Israel camp is going to be included among those in her cross-hairs.
While many Jews inexplicably will continue to vote Democratic, the pro-Israel camp will not. All the pro-Israel Democrats who have attempted to rally support for their party over the past two election cycles finally have been laid bare of any coherence or substance. The Democratic Party has become the party of the far left and its anti-Israel credentials continue to expand. Hillary knows this and her competition from Bernie Sanders is moving her even further to adopt liberal populist positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests.
So, again, if Hillary, God forbid, wins, it will be in spite of, rather than with the help of, those who support Israel. And she is just petty and vindictive enough to make us pay the price for her perceived slight.
These are tumultuous times full of disruptive political dislocation. The old rules most certainly no longer apply. Now, more than ever, beware of conventional wisdom, beware of assuming the best of someone who is capable of the worst, and, most of all, beware of Mrs. Clinton.