Bill Clinton: When Iraq Attacks Israel, “I’ll Get Down in the Trenches and Die”
Bill Clinton would’ve been far better off if he’d just faded away, in the words of Douglas MacArthur, after he left the presidency. Instead, he lives on poisoning the well of American political discourse and disconcerting his wife’s presidential campaign. During his days as president, many of us made the mistake of believing that he was the first president in decades who truly harbored a chance to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. His wonkiness meant that he’d mastered the intricacies and minutiae of the conflict and would use that knowledge for good. We thrilled to Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shaking hands on the White House lawn. When Clinton failed, we didn’t blame him because we thought he’d made a herculean effort.
It was only afterward, when the Aipac-affiliated appointees in his administration like Aaron David Miller and Dennis Ross touted their boss’ “generous offer” and pinned the blame for failure on Arafat alone, that questions arose about the Clintonians’ sincerity and honesty.
But in two recent speeches, Clinton has bared his nasty fangs and displayed his poisonous attitude regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s remarkable that someone the world once looked up to as an expert on the Mideast has reverted to the most inane platitudes and falsehoods regarding Palestinians and the Muslim world. It makes you wonder whether the image he projected at one time of being a jovial political warrior, at home anywhere and with anyone, was a complete fake. Is the sour, sullen Clinton we now hear from, the real Clinton who was Islamophobic and racist all along? Can you take the redneck out of the racist South (my apologies to Southerners who are anti-racist) but not take the racist South out of the redneck?
A few days ago, an audience member asked about his record on Israel-Palestine. This is how Clinton responded:
I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state,” Clinton said after the critical attendee interrupted his speech. “I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza, 96 to 97 percent of the West Bank, compensating land in Israel, you name it.
…The heckler did not stop there, however. “She [Hillary] said neutrality [toward Israel] is not an option,” the man bellowed, prompting the former president to argue on behalf of his wife’s…vow to make clear her support for the Jewish state’s security.
“Depends on whether you care what happens to the Palestinians as opposed to the Hamas government and the people with guided missiles,” Clinton said, to which the heckler injected, “They were human beings in Gaza.”
“Yes, they were,” Clinton shot back, as he signaled to those present to refrain from booing the attendee’s pushback. “And Hamas is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart.”
“They said they try to put the Israelis in a position of either not defending themselves or killing innocents” he added, as the audience applauded his rebuttle [sic]. “They’re good at it. They’re smart. They’ve been doing this a long time.”
No one doubts that Clinton expended considerable energy and political capital to broker a peace agreement. But what many do question is the approach he took, which clearly favored Israel. His State Department staff dedicated to the negotiations was filled with ex-Aipac staffers and think tankers. There were no Arab or Palestinian staffers to offer an alternate point of view.
Nor was Clinton’s ultimate goal to “give” Palestinians a state. His real intent was to get as much as he could for our Israeli allies and give as little as possible to the Palestinians, while managing somehow to win their assent. The only ‘killing’ that such a skewed approach ultimately offered was to kill the peace process.
The notion that there was “a deal” that Arafat walked away from has been bandied about by Clinton’s Aipac-affiliated Mideast staffers, among them Dennis Ross and Aaron David Miller. In fact, there was no “deal.” There was a proposal that was never approved. Never finalized. It wasn’t approved because it didn’t offer the Palestinians 96% of the West Bank, as he claims.
Further, the notion that Hamas “doesn’t care” about Palestinians because it resists Israeli Occupation is a calumny. In the mind of the western outsider, all the Palestinians have to do is drop their guns, stop the rockets and somehow miraculously all they want will magically appear before their eyes. This notion is pernicious and historically false. There is no reason why Palestinians should trust Clinton or the Israelis to offer them what they want without such resistance.
Finally, the argument that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields and that it hides its fighters in schools and hospitals is pure Israeli-manufactured fiction. UNWRA rebutted every charge the IDF made about militants using their schools as military cover. And the sole story claiming Hamas fighters fired from a hospital was proven to be fiction by Gareth Porter (I offered a Hebrew translation of IDF audio, which proved the falsity of the claim). All Clinton is doing is regurgitating cast-off propaganda that even the IDF failed to peddle successfully.
Not to be outdone, in a 2002 appearance before a Toronto Jewish federation fundraiser, he told the audience:
“If Iraq came across the Jordan River, I would grab a rifle and get in the trench and fight and die.”
In the 2002 context, Clinton was referring to Sadam Hussein. But the notion that Sadam, or ISIS for that matter today, posed any threat to Israel is prepostetous. It’s yet more hysterical hand-wringing on the part of the Lobby and its friends like Clinton.
It’s important to add that Bibi Netanyahu and other Israeli rightists often bray about ISIS invading Israel. Not that there is a hope in Hell of such an eventuality.
When I read such tripe about wealthy, powerful Americans dreaming of joining the IDF to fight for Israel, it brings to mind Rahm Emanuel, who volunteered in the IDF in Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. It similarly brings to mind Sheldon Adelson, who regrets his own service in the U.S. Army. Instead, he wishes he would’ve served in the IDF.
All this makes one wonder: if the spouse of a prospective president is ready to fight and die for a foreign power (which itself is a violation of U.S. law), shouldn’t citizens be concerned that such an individual will represent the interests of that foreign state, rather than his own?
It seems clear to me that Bill Clinton’s critical faculties are impaired. Or at least, he’s not the same person he was as president. It’s equally clear that he will be a close advisor to Hillary Clinton when she becomes president. This prospect frightens me no end. Though I suppose it shouldn’t frighten me any more than having suspected Israeli intelligence asset, Haim Saban, as one of Hillary’s largest donors and trusted advisors.
26 thoughts on “Bill Clinton: When Iraq Attacks Israel, “I’ll Get Down in the Trenches and Die” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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What a ridiculous statement. The man will be 70 this year. The IDF would need a company to protect him from harm.
But is there anything genuine behind it or is this too just posturing for the sake of votes and filthy lucre?
And about how many American politicians can one ask the same question? According to Michael Blumenthal there was
general dislike of AIPAC among the Washington insiders he met at his parental home. Does that translate with many into a general dislike of Israel?
According to Peter Novick the infatuation with Israel and the preoccupation with the holocaust only started after about 1967, when Americans got impressed by Israel’s military prowess and started to regard it as a useful ally in the cold war (and now of course in the “war against terror”).
But it is still a bit of a mystery to me and I can’t think of a similar case in the history of empires.
I just read that section of the law that you point as saying it’s a violation of the law to fight and die for another country. It doesn’t say that, in fact it says the opposite. It does say that it would be different if the American citizen enlists in the army of a country at war with the US, but you are not claiming Israel is an enemy of the US, right?
All American (and Canadian) citizens who go over to “fight for Israel” and to abuse and humiliate Palestinians are scummy, worthless people if not enemies of America and Canada outright. If they “die for the Jewish state”– well, no tears for them.
Good riddance, actually.
“but you are not claiming Israel is an enemy of the US, right?”
Israel: a strategic and political liability. A non-contributor to the so-called “war on terror”, and an entity who relentlessly lies about its Palestinian and Lebanese nationalist enemies, in a childish, pathetic attempt to get others to fight Palestinian and Lebanese resistants for Israel and Zionism.
Israel: seems to want war (at least fought by others) with Iran as opposed to diplomacy and détente.
I don’t know about “enemy”– but Israel certainly is a shitty ally. Only myopic philosemites (in the Jewish-only sense) and Arab-haters tout the “necessity” of such a close American relationship to Israel.
This is pretty simple: the very notion that the USA was a mediator goes out the window the moment you accept that the Clinton Administration insisted on first co-ordinating its position with the Israelis before presenting that position to the Palestinian negotiators.
You can’t have it both ways i.e. you can’t be both a “mediator” at the same time as you are acting as the advocate for one side in those negotiations.
Slick Willie needs to come clean and admit that the USA’s role in the “peace process” is – and always has been – that of a shill for Israel.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no shame in that: if the USA wants to be one-sided then that is its privilege.
But it shouldn’t then pretend that it is also something else because – obviously – the two positions of “mediator” and “shill” are mutually-exclusive.
Bill should be honest, if at least for himself: he darn-near killed himself trying to get Israel what they wanted, and in that he failed.
Clinton: “I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza, 96 to 97 percent of the West Bank, compensating land in Israel, you name it”
Everyone should parse that sentence carefully, because it reveals so very much about the man.
Slick Willie “had a deal”, of that there was no doubt. But that deal was, of course, between him and Little Ehud.
We know it wasn’t “a deal” as anyone would recognize the word because, ahem, we know for a fact that it was “a deal” that “they” (i.e. the Palestinians) “turned down”.
QED: it wasn’t “a deal” at all, Bill.
It was “a proposal” from him and, sure, it was one that he “proposed” on behalf of the Israelis and, sure enough, the Palestinians turned it down.
But, please, remind me again: who was supposed to be negotiating what, and with whom?
And who was supposed to be mediating what and, again, with whom?
Because I don’t appear to be the only one confused on that score: Slick Willie also appears to be clueless.
not to excuse his attitude, the NY Post article in which Clinton says“If Iraq came across the Jordan River, I would grab a rifle and get in the trench and fight and die.” is dated 2002. the reference to Iraq makes sense in that context.
@esti: Thanks fur noting the date of that Post story. I hadn’t. You’re right about the historical context.
I remember that it was hard to persuade Arafat to enter into these negotiations at all. He finally did so on the condition that he wouldn’t be blamed for their failure. But, at the end, Clinton did just that.
@Richard: “There is no reason why Palestinians should trust Clinton or the Israelis to offer them what they want without such resistance.”
Yet, you lecture us that the Israelis are supposed to “trust” the Palestinians that if we turn over more land and end the occupation of the West Bank and lift the blockade, that the Palestinians will stop “the resistance”. So far Israelis have every reason to think the opposite. (This is why the right has gotten traction here. )
You are just unable to acknowledge that there is a cycle of mutual distrust. Rather, its a;ways those evil conniving Zionist/Israeli liars, vs. the Palestinians who are always innocent and honest. Since they are victims they can’t be anything other than that, right? Saying anything else is “Islamaphobic” and “racist”. I think that the Clintons would find that as news that they are racist Islamaphobes.
“Yet, you lecture us that the Israelis are supposed to “trust” the Palestinians that if we turn over more land and end the occupation of the West Bank and lift the blockade, that the Palestinians will stop “the resistance”.”
Israel: responsible for the entire conflict.
Zionist Jews: responsible for the initial unrest because of the end game of the Zionist movement; a “Jewish state” on as much of Palestine as possible, and “free of Palestinians” in the bargain.
Zionism in practise: an ethnically and religiously bigoted political ideology at “best”.
You whine and weep in your attempt to portray Israel as “the victim”. It’s pathetic and hilarious at the same time.
Israelis and pro-israels simply don’t get to whine about “but we can’t trust the Palestinians”. get it?
Palestinians have absolutely no reason to trust you, or like you, to any degree whatsoever. It’s up to you and your “Jewish state” to establish even a single iota of trust, for lack of a better way of putting it.
You are the murderers. You are the baby-killers. You are the ones who ethnically cleansed, who blow up entire civilian neighbourhoods and then lie shamelessly about it.
” So far Israelis have every reason to think the opposite. (This is why the right has gotten traction here. )”
Yawn. No credibility, and you get no sympathy as a result.
The right has gained traction because the Palestinians refused to eat shit, so now Israelis are swinging back to the pre-Oslo “Palestinians don’t exist” mentality and advocating the take-over of what little land remains Palestinian.
” You are just unable to acknowledge that there is a cycle of mutual distrust. ”
Yawn. The Palestinians aren’t “as much to blame” as are the Israelis and the Zionist movement as a political ideology.
Israel, and Israelis, are deserving of the vast majority of the blame– as has been the case since the beginning. As has been the case in Lebanon as well.
” its a;ways those evil conniving Zionist/Israeli liars, vs. the Palestinians who are always innocent and honest. Since they are victims they can’t be anything other than that, right? ”
Boo hoo. I’m playing the world’s smallest violin in tune to your shiftless whining.
Man up. Grow a spine, why don’t you.
” Saying anything else is “Islamaphobic” and “racist”. ”
You come from a class of people that shrieks “anti-Semitism” whenever anyone doesn’t treat them like the most vulnerable, innocent class of perpetual victims on the planet.
Diehard supporters of Israel are almost to a man legitimately Islamophobic and extremely ethnically bigoted towards Middle Eastern non-Jews generally .This is what they have in lieu of actual, fact-based arguments .
Bill Clinton was a SNITCH on the antiwar People. Hillary was a SNITCH too. Now they want to sell ISRAEL’S secrets.
Ehud Barak said no to Arafats plea for palestinians right to return.Baraks “generous offer” was never discussed and
would never be accepted in the knesset.
Whenever anyone starts to whine about Arafat being “responsible” for the failure of the summit, simply copy-pasting this is enough to shut them down.
Not that they’re really keen on acknowledging that much or doing anything other then trying to absolve Israel whenever the subject comes up, though.
That there is mutual distrust is obvious. Whether both parties are equally entitled to their distrust is another matter. The Palestinian reason for it seems so obvious and life size, Yehuda, that it doesn’t have to be spelled out even for you.
But what about the Israeli reasons? I can only see two main ones: 1. The accusation that very soon after Israel withdrew from Gaza the Palestinians resumed their old hostility without any reason. They self sabotaged their economy, inter alia by destroying the beautiful glasshouses we had left behind (I heard Peres claim that to Erdogan)
2. At Camp David and Taba the Palestinians were offered everything they said they wanted and yet Arafat knocked that back. This is clear evidence that the Palestinians really didn’t want a two state solution. Their real aim is the destruction of Israel.
These points have been very extensively discussed.
I just offer some quotes. The first one is from James Wolfensohn, former Mideast Envoy of the Quartet who had a lot to do with Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal:
“I remember seeing the greenhouses with the chairman and looking at the fruits and everything, and there was a joyous atmosphere: ‘Boy, we’re about to get this going and we’re going to have hotels by the beaches and we’re going to have tourism and it’s going to be fantastic, and the Palestinians really know how to be hosts.’ But in the months afterward, first of all Arik [Sharon] became ill and the current prime minister came in, and there was a clear change of view.”
At that time, Wolfensohn recalls, powerful forces in the U.S. administration worked behind his back: They did not believe in the border terminals agreement and wanted to undermine his status as the Quartet’s emissary. The official behind this development, he says, was Elliot Abrams, the neoconservative who was appointed deputy national security adviser in charge of disseminating democracy in the Middle East – “and every aspect of that agreement was abrogated.” (italics added AB)
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/all-the-dreams-we-had-are-now-gone-1.225828
The second one concerns the question whether the failure at Camp David and Taba can be ascribed to Arafat. The pro-Israel American advisers who accompanied Clinton, and Clinton himself, have been very busy in spreading that view. They were contradicted at an early stage by Robert Malley who also witnessed the proceedings. But all in all the matter became a public relations disaster for Arafat.
The last of my quotes come from an old article by Robert Wright in Slate:
Was Arafat the problem
“One thing nearly all pundits seem to agree on is that Yasser Arafat’s rejection of the land-for-peace offer made by Ehud Barak at Camp David in the summer of 2000 was indefensible. This conventional wisdom has been a great asset to Ariel Sharon. Its implication—that Arafat was never really interested in a two-state solution to begin with—has helped turn many former peaceniks in both Israel and America into hard-liners.
This is a widely repeated claim—that Israel offered something like the “pre-1967 borders” that had long been the mantra of Palestinians who favored a two-state solution. But for Palestinians to get all the territory that had been under Arab control before the war of 1967 would mean getting a) all of what we now think of as the West Bank; b) all of East Jerusalem (which some consider part of the West Bank); and c) all of the walled “Old City” that lies between East and West Jerusalem. Barak never offered any of those things—not at Camp David, not at Taba.”
@Arie: Here, again, its a narrative. This goes all the way back to the beginning of the Oslo agreement. I’ll assume that all the facts you mention are correct, including those in the Haaretz article,which BTW places the blame on all sides for the failure of the border agreement.
What does the average Israeli observe? Repeated attempts for 23 years by Israelis to reach agreements with the Palestinians, followed by breakdown and outbreaks of terrorism. Let’s imagine that in negotiations Peres, Barak, Sharon , Olmert and Bibi all acted either incompetently or in bad faith. It would be equally easy to see that the Palestinian leadership did the same. And what was the outcome? Terrorism and thousands of dead or wounded civilians.
Arie, you can bring all of the pilpulistic arguments you want assigning blame or attributing cause and effect. But it doesn’t change the basic narrative.
I do understand that the Palestinians also have valid reason for distrust and cynicism.
But it would be a breathtaking stroke of arrogance and bigotry to tell us Israelis that we are not “entitled” to be distrustful of the Palestinians. (This is not personal, I’m sure you’re a nice person)
” But it would be a breathtaking stroke of arrogance and bigotry to tell us Israelis that we are not “entitled” to be distrustful of the Palestinians. (This is not personal, I’m sure you’re a nice person)”
You’re not “entitled” to be distrustful of the Palestinians. You’re not entitled to Israel itself.
Realistically, you’re not entitled to anything in historic Palestine or to do with historic Palestine outside of the 6% of historic Palestine early Zionists bought and paid for, with the sellers being Palestinian Arab landowners themselves.
Understand? This conflict, and the fact that it continues, is overwhelmingly your fault. I really don’t care if Israelis and Zionists don’t think I’m a “nice person” or if I come across as being “arrogant” (you of all people, with your ideology, don’t get to call anyone else a “bigot”).
” Repeated attempts for 23 years by Israelis to reach agreements with the Palestinians, followed by breakdown and outbreaks of terrorism. ”
Can you tell me at which one of these “repeated attempts” the Palestinians were offered what the Arab Peace Initiative proposes and the Palestinians consented to (basically the conditions set out in UNSC Res.242)?
Let’s assume for the moment that they weren’t offered what they require.
Does that then justify resorting to terrorism?
Or, rather, does the fact that they resorted to a terrorist war, still require that the Israelis “trust” them?
All IDF, Border Police, and “settlers” engaged and maimed or killed by Palestinians are no “innocent civilians” and therefore not “victims of terror” if they end up buying the farm as a result.
The root problem lies in the Israeli and Zionist proclivity to claim that IDF soldiers killed in action are “murdered” by “terrorists”.
Richard you are 100% correct. I assume this is why you support Donald Trump for President.
@ Bunnyrabbit: I will NEVER vote for Hillary. Never.
But why would you assume the only choices I would have would be to vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
Bahahahahha how in the world would Trump be a better choice? Trump and Hillary are equally terrible.
You know very well (but you allow this knowledge to be buried under loudly proclaimed opinions around you) that this is not just a tussle about borders as it would be, say, between Holland and Belgium (that formed one country at one stage).
There is ongoing land expropriation, there is ongoing settler violence, there is ongoing sabotage of Palestinian agriculture including the destruction of olive trees, there is ongoing theft of waster sources, there is ongoing apartheid in the use of roads etc etc. What do you expect?
I believe there has been some progress towards dealing with the Jewish terrorism problem
But some of your questions are valid, and I blame Bibi for this.
BTW the latest national unity talks between Bibi and Labor are just one of Bibi’s tricks, to slither his way out of the pressure coming from the upcoming French-sponsored peace conference.
Believe me, I would love nothing better than for Bibi to be thrown out of office. He is a liar and a coward. He is a good tactician but a horrible strategist, because all he does is react.
I would like it even better if the US and France give Bibi an ultimatum– either freeze settlements and return to talks, or UN sanctions against his government (including him personally). If he won’t be welcome in European and American capitols to spout his empty slogans, it will be hitting him where it hurts. Obama as a lame duck has a unique opportunity now. But he’ll probably cower away from it because of fear of hurting the Democrats.
Believe me, he sweats a lot and caves to pressure, just as he does on domestic issues. If Western leaders really turn the screws on him, he’ll give in. Even Yitzhak Shamir, the best “no man” that ever lived, caved in to Bush the senior.
@Yehuda: the pro settler Jerusalem Post tells you there’s no Jewish terror problem and you believe them because…??? Tell it to the 200 Palestinian families whose loved ones have been killed in the current Intifada. Tell it to the Dawabshehs & Abu Kheirs. Tell it to the Muslims enraged when settler provocateurs announce plans to destroy Haram al Sharif.
If you lie down with the Clintons you get up with STDs. Both those scumbags were SNITCHES on the antiwar groups they feigned to support. The only LOYALTY the Clintons have is to themselves, and they do not trust each other.
“I would grab a rifle…” Yea, right Bill. The only thing that you and Hell-ary fight for is money and power for yourselves. Some of us have memories long enough to remember the Vietnam war and what you did to get out of it. Now tell us the one about Goldilocks and the Three Bears.