Today, Secretary of State Clinton is delivering a major speech on foreign policy issues. Coming days after a meeting between Jewish leaders met and President Obama in which he committed to increasing the public visibility of his Administration’s demands on Arabs and Palestinians.
Mrs. Clinton’s speech contains a passage doing just that, stating:
“We know that progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States – or Israel – alone. Ending the conflict requires action on all sides. Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel, and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel’s place in the region. The Saudi peace proposal, supported by more than twenty nations, was a positive step. But so far, those who embrace it seem unwilling to do anything until the Israelis and Palestinians reach an agreement. This may be understandable, but it is not helpful.”
We still have issues with the Administration’s underlying approach, but this is a step in a better direction.
Secretary Clinton closed this section of her speech saying:
“You can’t claim to be sending messages of peace until you also act against the cultures of hate, intolerance and disrespect that perpetuate conflict.”
This is a framing which friends of Israel should particularly welcome. It is the Palestinian/Arab side which continues to foster anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and more in their schools and media, and continues to deny the basic legitimacy of Israel to exist (in contrast to Israel which has said and acted time and again to recognize and potentially realize the rights of Palestinians).
Even while noting the disagreement over Israeli settlements, this is an essential way to frame the issue along the lines of what the Orthodox Union called for in our post Obama meeting statement yesterday – not morally vapid “evenhandedness”, but accurate assessment of the obligations.