(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton objected to criticism of
Israel that veers into demonization of Jews and the Jewish state, speaking at an
event Tuesday on preventing genocide.
“When criticism of Israeli
government policies crosses over into demonization of Israel and Jews, we must
push back,” Clinton declared in remarks at the US Holocaust Memorial
She also railed against Holocaust denial, and in doing so made an
implied reference to Iran, whose leaders have frequently denied the Nazi
“We must remain vigilant against those deniers and against
anti-Semitism, because when heads of state and religious leaders deny the
Holocaust from their bully pulpits, we cannot let their lies go unanswered,” she
said. “We need to make clear that violence, bigotry will not be
Clinton went on to speak more generally about the need to
confront and prevent genocide.
“‘Never again’ remains an unmet, urgent
goal,” she said, referring to cases of genocide since the Holocaust in places
like Cambodia and the Balkans.
“The United States and our partners must
act before the wood is stacked or the match is struck, because when the fire is
at full blaze, our options for responding are considerably costlier and more
difficult,” she said, referring to new efforts at the State Department and other
parts of the administration to work pro-actively in situations where genocide
can take place.
But she said that stronger actions is not the same as
“If a government cannot or will not protect its own
citizens, then the United States and like-minded partners must act. But let me
hasten to say this is not code for military action,” she clarified. “Force must
remain a last resort.”
Instead, she point to the use of financial
sanctions, humanitarian assistance and law enforcement measures.
case of Syria, she said, the US is supporting stronger sanctions as well as
organizations collecting evidence of human rights abuses.
“More than a
hundred other nations and organizations have made clear that Assad must step
aside in order for a transition to begin,” she said. “We’re sending a message to
the Syrian regime and making clear that there will be consequences for their
She also indicated the US is “increasing our efforts to assist
Asked at a press conference later Tuesday what the
precise nature of that assistance was, she referred to working with bodies
outside the UN Security Council – where Russia and China have vetoed US-backed
plans to impose sanctions and take other measures against Syrian leader Bashar
Assad – to take action.
Pressed on whether this included non-lethal
intelligence and military assistance, Clinton replied, “We are certainly
providing communications that we know is going to people within Syria so that
they can be better organized to protect themselves against the continuing
assault of their own government.”
According to a poll unveiled at
Tuesday’s event, 55 percent of the American public believes the US should take
military action against Syria, with 24% saying the US shouldn’t. At the same
time, Syria ranked low on a list of foreign policy priorities.
majority (55%) also felt Americans should provide ground forces in Syria, but
only as a part of an international force.
In general, 69% of those
surveyed said the US should act to stop genocide in other parts of the world,
with only 25% opposed. Another question worded slightly differently found that
78% support the US taking military action to stop genocide or mass atrocities
with just 18% opposed.
When it comes to potential military action to end
a genocide, 53% said the US would be most effective if such force was
multilateral, and another 27% thought military action facilitated by a
international organizations like the UN would work best.
Only 10% thought
the US working unilaterally would be the most effective course. However, 55%
believe the international community is not effective at preventing civilians
from genocide or mass atrocities.
The telephone survey of 1,000 people
was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland between June 30 and July 10 with a +/- 3.1%
margin of error.