WaPo's Paul Waldman:
In any case, every politician knows what they have to do when it comes to AIPAC: go to the conference, talk about the times you’ve visited the Holy Land, wax rhapsodic about the deep connection between our two countries, say that when you’re elected the bond between us will be stronger than ever, and make sure everyone knows that you’re as “pro-Israel” as you could possibly be.
There has been a shift recently, however. For many years, everyone paid lip service to the idea that a two-state solution, with Palestinians eventually freed from Israeli occupation and left to govern themselves, was what we all wanted. The difference was that Democrats usually meant it, and many Republicans didn’t. These days, many Republicans no longer pretend that the Palestinians deserve self-government, or any rights at all. Ask them about a two-state solution, and they’ll just talk about how Palestinians are terrorists.
Clinton’s brief discussion of this issue in her speech can only be described as half-hearted:
“It may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate when many Israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. But inaction cannot be an option. Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. And only a negotiated two-state agreement can survive those outcomes.”
What she failed to mention is that the current government of Israel isn’t a “willing partner” to negotiations either. Just before he got reelected last March, Prime Minister Netanyahu made explicit what everyone already knew, that there will never be a Palestinian state on his watch. And in her entire speech, the closest Clinton got to a criticism of the Israeli government was this line: “Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements.” If you were her speechwriter, that’s about what you’d come up with if she told you, “Put the word ‘settlements’ in there somewhere just so I can say I mentioned it, but make it so vague that it doesn’t actually sound like I’m taking any position at all.”
If there's serious differences between Clinton and Obama on foreign policy, it's on the subject of Israel and Palestine. And it got worse:
Clinton also came out forcefully against the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), which seeks to exert pressure on Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. I’m not going to wade into the debate over BDS, but it was striking that Clinton took what is essentially the position of maximal opposition to BDS: not that it has legitimate arguments to make even if it often takes them too far, or that the movement tolerates anti-Semites within its ranks, or that people within it are starting from liberal values and thus might be persuaded to agree with someone like her, but that the entire thing is anti-Semitic and therefore must simply be fought:
“Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.
“Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.
“I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now. As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS.”
Now, it's one thing to believe Israel is committing collective punishment against the Palestinian people and using your pocketbook as something to try to convince Israel's government to be more lenient.
It is another thing entirely to treat those efforts as purely anti-Semitic and without any merit, value, or even saying they do not have the right to exist. That is the kind of ridiculous rhetoric I expect to hear from Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum, that disagreement with Israel is in and of itself anti-Semitic. But from Hillary Clinton?
I have a tremendous problem with that train of thought. I understand that Sanders has issues on foreign policy fitness, but Clinton's Israel policy as stated Monday is abysmal.
Granted, I know in a general election Clinton's total policy package would be far and above any of the GOP contenders, but on this issue there's no difference, and that's something that's going to hurt us down the road. It's just a matter and how soon and how badly.