One of the few intelligent things Donald Trump has said during this election cycle was about the role the U.S. can play as a negotiator in international conflict, particularly between the Israeli state and its Palestinian colonies. Trump mentioned that it’s difficult for the U.S. to work as an honest broker if it commits to the outset to backing everything the Israeli government says or does. That strikes me as a fairly obvious point.
And yet it earned him excoriation from his rival from the Republican Party and from Hillary Clinton, who now that Marco Rubio has dropped out of the race, is probably the leading neo-conservative candidate for the Presidency. Trump, Kasich, and Cruz are all crazed when it comes to foreign policy, but Clinton provides some framework for the dangerous neo-conservatism she promotes.
And when it comes to Israel, she has dismissed Trump’s remarks about negotiation out of hand. “America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security and survival”, she declared, adding for emphasis that “Israel’s security is nonnegotiable….We must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate, and impugn Israel and the Jewish people.”
That last sentence is key. No candidate and no advocate of peace says that Israel’s security and survival is up for negotiation. But when Clinton conflates the actions of the Israeli government with the well-being of Israeli Jews, she is following in the footsteps of right-wing zealots who in both Israel and the United States have sought to tar any critique of Israeli terror and colonialism with the brush of anti-Semitism.
The U.S. gives massive amounts of military and civilian aid to Israel, and does so without reference to the behavior of the colonial regime that occupies territories on its borders and pushes Palestinians into conditions of raw desperation. It launches colonial-style punitive expeditions into these territories, cuts them off from supplies, and has even attacked international arbitrators and observers with its massive military force. Its diplomats have demonstrated total contempt for the U.S President, have accused our Secretary of State of abetting terror, and have sought to draw the U.S. into armed conflict with other Middle Eastern states.
The Israeli government commits war crimes and crimes against humanity. Condemning these actions—which has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, undermining the security of Israeli citizens, etc—is in the interests of the public interest in our country, international law, the rights of Palestinians, and ultimately the security of Israelis.
And yet Clinton has defended the Israeli state vociferously, even when it commits transparently immoral actions that serve no long-term U.S. or Israeli interests. If Clinton wants the U.S. to be in a position to serve as an honest broker, she needs to back away from her unconditional embrace of Israeli policy. She needs to make aid to Israel—like aid to every other country—conditional. And she should recognize that addressing the material and civic welfare of Palestinians is ultimately the path toward making Israelis more secure.
But as with so much else—Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc—Clinton has spurned the focus on the intersections between economics and society and has advocated for or supported violence. The irony, of course, is that both the United States and Israel fought for independence against colonial authorities. And yet the narratives of unconditional support and the attacks on what they falsely and dishonestly characterize as anti-Semitism blind them to how their support for colonialism and state terror in the present will breed only uncertainty and more non-state terror for the future.
Clinton’s stupidity and obstinacy on this point cast her as a defender as all that is wrong with U.S. foreign policy: an emphasis on violence; disdain for international law; uneven applicability of human rights; and a refusal to treat the ambitions of so many of our global citizens with the respect and understanding that they deserve.
While each of the Republican candidates has pledged to commit acts of terror in violation of U.S. and international law and are unfit to hold office, Clinton also represents a threat to the security and moral authority of the U.S., and to the lives and well-being of people around the world.