by Rod D. Martin
May 15, 1998
Bill Clinton has made a career out of forgetting who his friends are. As Arkansas Times editor (and lifelong liberal Democrat) Max Brantley once told me, “Bill Clinton would walk past a hundred friends to shake hands with one enemy.”
So it should be no surprise that the President snubs Israel at every turn, boosting the terrorist leader Yassir Arafat. And yet it rankles.
The Clinton Administration’s antipathy for Israel, and especially its valiant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, veritably bubbles over. The State Department did everything in its power to influence Israeli voters to defeat Netanyahu in the first place; it has then sought to undercut him at every turn. No chance is missed to snub him (and therefore his country). The President alternates between treating him like a bad child and decrying him as a dangerous extremist.
You would think Netanyahu was Saddam Hussein.
But, of course, he is not. The Israeli Prime Minister is an American-educated conservative, the most pro-free market leader in Israeli history, and an articulate defender of the free world both during and after the Cold War. As a man in his thirties, he lead the Jonathan Institute — named for his brother, Jonathan Netanyahu, the heroic soldier who was the only Israeli to die in the legendary 1977 rescue mission at Entebbe — where he uncovered and brought to international attention the details of Soviet terrorism sponsorship and its role in their overall strategy for world hegemony. He is a friend of America, an internationally-respected author and spokesman for freedom, and a man completely committed to an honest peace with the Arabs.
And yet — or maybe because of this — Bill Clinton detests him.
Instead, Clinton embraces Yassir Arafat, the man whose minions killed Netanyahu’s brother, the man whose followers still slaughter Israeli schoolchildren today. Clinton assures us that Arafat has changed his spots, and demands that Israel act on that promise; and yet, like so many Clinton promises, there is no evidence to bear it out; and when Netanyahu asks for concrete assurances in exchange for concrete concessions, he is pilloried.
But Netanyahu is right. Critics point out that the Jewish state has prevailed in all its wars, but fail to note that just one defeat of a nation smaller than Lake Michigan would be its end, a new Holocaust on an astonishing scale. They forget that Jerusalem is an island in an Arab sea, that in the vicinity of Tel Aviv the country is only ten miles wide, that one effective armored drive from Nablus would cut the country in two.
They speak of “occupied territory,” but conveniently forget that Israel — and Netanyahu’s party — has given all that up, handing the Sinai back to Egypt in 1979, preparing to evacuate its security zone in southern Lebanon (an area historically used by Arafat and others to launch missile attacks against Israeli schools), and handing control of the entire Gaza Strip and 95% of the Arab population of the West Bank over to Arafat. They forget that that territory was taken in war against Arab neighbors seeking, in Nassar’s words, “to exterminate every last Jew.”
They forget that Jordan, entirely populated by Palestinian Arabs, has been a part of Palestine since Moses, and that it was part of the Palestine Mandate ruled by Britain: it is, in short, a Palestinian state. They forget that Britain gave Jordan its independence under a puppet king whose son still rules, and then expected the Jews to give up half or more of their much smaller land as well. And they forget that, despite all this, Israel’s founders agreed to a UN partition which would have done just that, creating a Palestinian state in 1948, only to be invaded from all sides on the day after independence.
They forget that Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, working with the Soviet Union, conducted the most brutal terror campaign in history for thirty long years. They forget that the PLO’s charter still calls for the eradication of Israel and the “cleansing” of its territory of every living Jew. They forget Arafat’s present-day speeches throughout the Arab world, assuring his listeners that any peace with Israel will be a truce to gain advantage in the pursuit of that goal; in Arafat’s words, “the peace of Saladin.” They forget that his (broken) promise to change the charter was central to the Oslo accords, and that Israel is the only party keeping the agreement at all.
They turn a blind eye to opinion polls on the West Bank which show a greater-than 70% majority for destroying Israel. They pretend Arafat’s hand-picked Mufti of Jerusalem does not refer to Jews as “pigs and monkeys.” They call Netanyahu an obstructionist when he points out that the terrorism hasn’t stopped.
They follow in the footsteps of Chamberlain and Daladier, who once demanded Czechoslovakia give up key defensive territory in exchange for empty promises; and they forget that they hand that territory to the man Arafat, who has spent his entire life praising Adolf Hitler, and publicly bemoaning the failure of the Final Solution.
It is time to remember, both the facts and our friends. For America to demand Israel give up more than it can is foolishness, and in light of this century’s history, unforgivable. Israel and its leader deserve our support; and America needs a President who knows — and cares — who our friends are.