During a recent lecture at Georgetown University, Bill Clinton stated: “In the four years after I left office, three times as many Palestinians and Israelis were killed in violent acts than in the eight years I was there.”
What Clinton failed to mention – perhaps what he fails to comprehend – is that the policies of his administration were what set the stage for the bloody Second Intifada, which was launched in September 2000, four months before he left office.
Clinton had empowered Yasir Arafat for most of the 1990s and when efforts at squeezing concessions out of then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak ended in failure due to Arafat’s unwillingness to agree to a deal, Arafat launched his new intifada. It was only a year and a half later, when then-prime minister Ariel Sharon finally unleashed Israeli forces against the West Bank Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, that the waves of attacks began to subside.
Those who continue to praise Clinton for having been “fully engaged” (a term favored by Clinton acolytes) with the peace process seem incapable of acknowledging that Clinton did more than anyone else to legitimize and elevate Arafat’s standing on the world stage; gave new meaning to the term “moral equivalence” when he spoke in the same breath of the suffering of the children of Palestinian terrorists and the suffering of the children of those terrorists’ Israeli victims; interfered in domestic Israeli politics on behalf of the Labor party in not one but two Israeli elections, dispatching his political strategists to help Shimon Peres in 1996 and Ehud Barak in 1999; and came disconcertingly close to browbeating a sitting Israeli prime minister into making the most far-ranging and disastrous concessions imaginable to an Arafat who had long since served notice that he had no interest in peaceful coexistence.
The Clintonian “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.
And should we revisit Bill Clinton’s shameful 1998 trip to Gaza? OK, let’s. It was there, as Yossef Bodansky writes in The High Cost of Peace: How Washington’s Middle East Policy Left America Vulnerable to Terrorism, that “Clinton’s true sense of the dynamics of the Middle East was revealed when he publicly equated Palestinian terrorists and Israeli victims of terrorism.”
Here’s what the “fully engaged” Clinton said to a group of Palestinian VIPs:
“I’ve had two profoundly emotional experiences in the last less than 24 hours. I was with Chairman Arafat, and four little children came to see me whose fathers are in Israeli prisons. Last night, I met some little children whose fathers had been killed in conflict with Palestinians, at the dinner that Prime Minister Netanyahu held for me. Those children brought tears to my eyes. We have to find a way for both sets of children to get their lives back and to go forward…. If I had met them in reverse order I would not have known which ones were Israeli and which Palestinian. If they had all been lined up in a row and I had seen their tears, I could not tell whose father was dead and whose father was in prison, or what the story of their lives were, making up the grief that they bore.”
Clinton’s comments were deplorable enough. Clinton being Clinton, however, there’s more to the story: it seems the meeting with those Israeli children never happened.
According to a story in the Dec. 25, 1998 issue of the Forward headlined “Clinton Lied About Meeting Children,” the Israeli Embassy minister for public affairs could not confirm that a meeting between Clinton and any Israeli children had taken place.