Do whatever you want, you and your family in your home, worship whatever you
want, but there has not been, nor will be a church [in the
... I do not forget we have 100 percent enmity with Israel.
Israel is trying its best to harm the Kingdom in these crucial
Prince Sultan bin Abd al Aziz of Saudi Arabia at a press
conference in Riyadh, March 8, 2003
These excerpts from an address to the media
by the Saudi minister of defense and aviation, on the eve of the war in Iraq,
epitomize important aspects of the domestic and foreign policies of the desert
kingdom – total religious intolerance and obdurate enmity towards
They also help to highlight the utter absurdity of Bill Clinton’s
recent rant against Binyamin Netanyahu.
But I am getting ahead of
During a roundtable with bloggers on the sidelines of the
Clinton Global Initiative in New York just before the UN debate on the
Palestinians unilateral bid for statehood, the former US president unequivocally
laid the blame for the failure of the Mideast peace process on
Clinton’s allegations are as lamentable as they are ludicrous.
However, it seems that Bibi-baiting has become such a socially bon-ton
imperative that even someone of his international standing feels he cannot
abstain from it.
Willfully misleading or woefully misinformed
look at Clinton’s jaw-dropping accusations will leave any moderately
well-informed reader aghast. They are so wildly inaccurate that one is forced to
conclude that he is either woefully misinformed as to Mideast realities or
willfully misleading the public as to those realities.
the departure of Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon from the political scene,
suggesting that had they remained, peace would have been attained long
ago. None of this has any basis in fact.
Netanyahu’s proposals to
the Palestinians go far beyond anything contemplated by Rabin. Indeed,
today if Netanyahu were to embrace, verbatim, Rabin’s vision for the permanent
solution as expressed in his last address to the Knesset, he would be dismissed
as an unreasonable extremist.
Rabin, in this address, delivered after
being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and showered with international acclaim as a
“valiant warrior for peace,”
• rejected the notion of a Palestinian state
(declaring the final Palestinian entity would be “less than a state”),
robustly rebuffed any possibility of returning to the pre-1967 lines,
a united Jerusalem (including its post-67/trans-Green Line suburbia) as Israel’s
• called not only for the inclusion of existing “settlements” within
the final frontiers of Israel, but for the constructions of additional ones
“like Gush Katif,” and
• insisted that Israel retain the Jordan Valley border –
“in the broadest meaning of that term” – as its permanent security
As Rabin was assassinated shortly after this speech, this was his
final articulation of his position on the peace process. Clearly it would never
have been accepted by the Palestinians.
Of course it is a matter of
speculation whether and how Rabin might have changed his views had he been alive
today. However, those believing that he would have abandoned them for a less
conciliatory course might feel that their case was considerably strengthened by
the recent declaration by his daughter, former deputy defense minister Dalia
Rabin, that “on the eve of his death... he was considering a U-turn” and
“stopping the Oslo Accords because terrorism was rampant, and... Arafat was not
delivering on his promise.”Recalling recalcitrant realities
misplaced nostalgia seems to have dulled or distorted Clinton’s memory on other
Rabin and Sharon were responsible, for two of the most
ill-considered and disastrous policy measures (Oslo and disengagement,
respectively) that brought devastation not only on their own country but also to
Under both of their governments, violence soared to
A study conducted by the Institute for Policy and
Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, underscores just how out of
touch Clinton’s assessment is.
The study, which spans the period from
September 1993 to November 2001, shows that in the 30 months after the Accords
were signed by Rabin, more Israelis were killed by terrorists (213) than in the
preceding decade (209).
Following Rabin’s assassination in November 1995,
Shimon Peres became prime minister. In his seven-and-a-half months in office,
terror fatalities rose even more rapidly. When he was succeeded by Netanyahu,
terrorism was reduced dramatically, to almost negligible levels.
Barak inherited the stability induced by Netanyahu’s policies. This was
maintained until the latter portion of Barak’s term, which coincided with
Clinton’s 2000 peace initiatives. It was then that things began to go badly
Almost immediately following Barak’s May 2000 pullout from
Lebanon, terror began to rise steeply, and in the last six month of his term,
the rate of casualties outstripped even that under Peres. The security debacle
under Barak led to his defeat in February 2001 by Ariel Sharon, who inherited
the bloody instability of his predecessor.
The carnage in Israeli cities,
at Israeli restaurants, and on Israeli buses rocketed off the charts, compelling
Sharon to abandon his risible “restraint is strength” posture and launch
Operation Defensive Shield.
This again brought “West Bank” terror to
almost negligible levels which, to date, Netanyahu has managed to maintain in
his second term.
Clinton’s longing for Sharon curiously ignores that it
was Sharon who authored 2005’s disastrous disengagement from Gaza, which led to
a deluge of rocket and mortar fire on Israeli population centers in the South.
The result of this Sharonesque “stroke of genius” was not the advancement of
peace, but Operation Cast Lead and more than 1,000 Palestinian
So who should Israelis – indeed Clinton, in his pursuit of
peace – prefer as prime minister, those whose policies exacerbated violence and
bloodshed or those whose policies have managed to maintain calm and stability?
Demography and demagoguery
This brings us to the next outrageous aspect of
Clinton’s blame-game: The claim that an unfavorable demographic shift in Israel
is making the public less amenable to peace.
Incredibly, he ascribes
proclivity for peace to ethno-religious origins, making the bald assertion that
Israeli society can be divided into demographic groups that have various levels
of enthusiasm for making peace.
No kidding. Not much daylight between
that and naked racism.
In what might turn out to be a dramatic windfall
for the Republicans in their pursuit of the Jewish vote, Clinton announced that
“the most pro-peace Israelis are the Arabs.”
Ah, if only it wasn’t for
those pesky peace-obstructing Israeli Jews... Doesn’t get much more Judeophobic
One can only puzzle over how Clinton came to this conclusion.
Perhaps he missed a 2010 University of Haifa poll of Israeli Arabs which
produced the following findings: 66.4% rejected Israel as a Jewish and Zionist
state, while 29.5% opposed its existence under any terms; 62.5% saw the Jews as
“foreign settlers who do not fit into the region and will eventually leave, when
the land will return to the Palestinians” – and 37.8% denied the
So I guess much depends on your definition of
Clinton goes on to rank the peace-affinities of the various
segments of Israeli society: “... second the Sabras, the Jewish Israelis
that were born there.”
Hmmm. The problem is that about 70% of the Jewish
population are native Sabras, Clearly if there was any truth in Clinton’s
classification, this should make the pro-peace segment overwhelmingly dominant.
It certainly should make his rancor over an alleged “unfavorable demographic
shift” look ridiculously unfounded.
He continues his assessment of
ethno-based peace-compliancy in Israel: “... third, the Ashkenazi of
long-standing, the European Jews who came there around the time of Israel’s
Ah yes, the “white Jews.” So much more enlightened and refined
than their primitive bellicose “darky” kinfolk, the Sephardi Jews who emigrated
from Asia and North Africa.
It seems inconceivable that a former US
president would descend into such racially charged innuendo, but when it comes
to Israel, no holds are barred.
Clinton goes on to indict the culprits:
“The most anti-peace are the ultra-religious, who believe they’re supposed to
keep Judea and Samaria, and the settler groups, and what you might call the
territorialists, the people who just showed up lately and they’re not encumbered
by the historical record.”
Well, the ultra-religious (or haredim) make up
less than 10% of the Israeli population, including a large proportion of young
children, who have no voting rights, hardly a dire demographic threat. Indeed
they are about half the number of the allegedly “peaceenthused” Israeli Arabs
and dwarfed by the peace-conducive Sabras.
So what is Bill’s beef
Moreover, if one bothers to examine the facts one will find
that apart from Jerusalem, the ultra-Orthodox are not hard-line territorialists,
and Judea and Samaria play almost no part in their political credo as
articulated in their party platforms – certainly far less than the line taken by
As for “settlers,” strangely they have a higher proportion (over
80%) of Sabras than the national average, and are overwhelmingly of Ashkenazi
origin. So according to Clintonian classification, the most peace-resistant
segment of the population incorporates the most peace-inducive segments?? Go
figure.Racist Russo-phobic recriminations?
As for the “territorialists,
the people who “just showed up lately and they’re not encumbered by the
historical record” – translation immigrants from the former USSR – they have a
special place in Clinton’s demographic purgatory.
Indeed at last year’s
Clinton Global Initiative they – rather than Netanyahu – were deemed the villain
According to Clinton in 2010, the Russian immigrants to Israel
emerged as a central obstacle to achieving a Mideast peace. He berated the
increasing numbers of Russophone Israelis in the IDF, claiming: “This presents a
Lamenting that realities in Israel cannot be frozen
in time, he grumbles that “It’s a different Israel” and states with manifest
disapproval that “16% of Israelis speak Russian.”
Horrors! Imagine that!
One might just think that being a Russophone is akin to having some dreaded
infection. It certainly seems to have exposed a Russo-phobic tendency in the
ex-prez.The Saudi blueprint for suicide
Clinton not only condemns Israel
for what it has allegedly become, but also for what is has allegedly done – or
rather not done.
This brings me back to the Saudi issue I broached at the
start of the column. Clinton denounces Israel for “moving the goalposts” because
it did not embrace the 2002 Saudi Initiative to achieve normalization with the
After all, all this required was that Israel agree to the
geographically suicidal measure of withdrawing to the indefensible 1967 lines
and to the demographically suicidal measure of accepting a Palestinian “right of
return.” So what’s the problem?
In an apparent bid to outdo Lewis Carroll’s
Alice in Wonderland
, Clinton declares, “The king of Saudi Arabia started lining
up all the Arab countries to say to the Israelis, ‘If you work it out with the
Palestinians... we will give you immediately not only recognition but a
political, economic, and security partnership... This is huge.... a heck of a
Really? Lining up all the Arab countries? Which would those be? Those
whose regimes have already been deposed; or those who are engaged in the
slaughter of their own citizens to prevent them being deposed? Feel like betting
the farm on that?
And what sort on normal relations is he envisaging? Israeli
tourists in the Saudi streets sporting yarmulkes and Magen Davids in a country
where displaying a cross in a criminal offense? Give us a break.
like Alice in Wonderland, it gets curiouser and curiouser. What security
cooperation could there with arguably the most Judeophobic country on the
planet, the cradle of Wahabism that begot 9/11 and most of the folks who
perpetrated it? A country where it is considered more moral to let schoolgirls
burn to death than to let them escape a burning dormitory in their nighties? A
country which declares itself to “have 100% enmity with Israel” will suddenly
embrace the Jewish state because it agreed to set up a micro-mini state for the
Palestinians whom the Saudis despise? Career considerations rather than carnal
Just as this article was being submitted for publication, it was
reported that the State Department, headed by Clinton’s spouse, was distancing
itself from his remarks. Looks like another marital spat between the Clintons
might be brewing – but now the focus is likely to be Hillary’s career
considerations rather than Bill’s carnal desires.