Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I don't have a large readership, but this marks the first time I might write about something that could cause some readers to question my judgment.
From my all too frequent musings on Twitter (@clompthestrong) I have found that most like minded Zionists that I converse with are very conservative in their political leanings. This is a common feature I see in American politics: US conservatives are frequently more supportive of Israel than most liberals. I've never completely understood this as Israel is a relatively liberal nation, gay marriage was recognized a long time ago, universal healthcare etc. Conversely it is for those reasons that I've never really understood the reticence of US liberals to support Israel.
So what's the risk I'm taking? I'm going to make a recommendation for the 2016 presidential race, and that recommendation is former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yes, I'm a Democrat. I hope that doesn't automatically disqualify me from ever being read again by my more conservative readers. Stick with me, I believe I can offer a compelling case.
How does this tie into Zionism? Hillary has a long record of being a friend to Israel, even going back to her days as First lady of Arkansas where she introduced Israeli education methods to Arkansas schools. More recently as Secretary of State she helped put together an international coalition that maintained the toughest sanctions on Iran (that Kerry helped unravel, but that's another story) and has said several times that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; which clearly includes unilateral Israeli attacks on reactors should that be necessary (like Israel did to the Iraqi reactor in 1984). Hillary has also stated that any attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the US.
While in the Senate Hillary introduced legislation to call for release of Israeli soldiers held captive by Hamas and Hezbollah. She cosponsored the Palestinian AntiTerrorism Act in 2006 which blocked foreign assistance to Hamas, and cosponsored the Syrian Accountability Act to pressure Syria to stop supporting terrorism in the Middle East.
A personal memory I have is watching Jon Stewart on the Daily Show try to challenge Mrs. Clinton about 2014's Gaza War. She told the following story that I still tell people who don't understand what dealing with Hamas governed Gaza. In 2005 Israel removed all settlers from Gaza. It was a heart wrenching experience for Israeli citizens being ripped from their homes. The Israelis left behind a flourish floral business that had been built up from nothing. The Israelis left their greenhouses and businesses for the Gazans to take over. Instead of picking up where the Israelis left off, the Gazans burned the greenhouses to the ground. This anecdote is a perfect microcosm of how Hamas views Israelis and Jews; they only seek to destroy us. I believe Mrs. Clinton understands this in a way no other candidate does. She was right about the Arab Spring. She recognized that it wasn't going to lead to the kind of reforms Obama was hoping. Mrs. Clinton's strength is something her Democratic opponent severely lacks, she sees the world as it is whereas Bernie Sanders sees the world as he would prefer it to be.
I'm aware of Mr. Sanders' time spent on a kibbutz in Israel. I'm of course aware that he is a fellow Jew (but that doesn't seem to be something he takes any note of). One of Sanders' best moments on Israel came during a townhall in VT during 2014's Gaza War. He told an obnoxious audience member (who was calling Hamas a humanitarian organization) to shut up and reminded the audience what a nightmare Hamas is on a daily basis for Israelis. This seems to be about the end of positive things I can say about Mr. Sanders in regard to his support for Israel. He frequently calls for less defense spending and aid for Israel. He supports the two state solution (see my previous entry for more on why that is a total fantasy) like many well intended but ignorant liberals. What is most disturbing to me from this perspective is his rank amateur understanding of the Middle East, its complexities and nuances (he demonstrates this level of ignorance for other international areas as well, but I'm focusing only on the Middle East). When recently questioned about how to fight ISIS Mr. Sanders suggested a Muslim coalition. Sounds good right? Well he intimated that Iran and Saudi Arabia should work together. Sure, maybe after they're done setting each others embassies on fire. He also stated in a recent interview that he will take Middle East analysis from the spineless hacks at JStreet. It is my conclusion that Mr. Sanders' plan for Middle East terrorism would clearly include even worse relations with Israel than John Kerry has now and well....it's hard to come up with anything else as he doesn't give much more. I don't feel Mr. Sanders has any deep understanding of the complexities and statesmanship of dealing with the interests of several nations on an international stage. Considering he's been representing Vermont, a mostly white state with a paltry population of 626,000 people this isn't entirely surprising.
For any Democratic observer of Middle East politics, Hillary Clinton is not just the smart choice, she is the only choice. One cannot overstate the shameful lack of thought Mr. Sanders has put into this crucial area of consideration.
As I'm not a Republican I'm not going to make a recommendation on their side, but I don't find their general threats of nuking Syria until their sand glows appealing. If you're a Republican, I hope you'll read this and give Mrs. Clinton some serious consideration in this primary and if she gets the Democratic nomination in November.
I'm going to go out on a final limb here. I sense in Mrs. Clinton the capacity to be a leader like Golda Meir. Strong, determined, extremely smart and also a big heart. I'm reminded of Golda's quote about when there were many sexual assaults in Israel and some politicians suggested a curfew for women and she responded that the men were the criminals, let them stay home. The State Department under Mrs. Clinton had the "Hillary Doctrine" which was essentially the directive to always include initiatives for women and girls in all dealings possible. I also think of her broken heart following the Munich Olympic massacre and her response to assassinate the terrorists. These are the kinds of heart and mind soul wrenching decisions a president has to make, that I feel Mr. Sanders is incapable of effectively making; those are the kinds of foot steps I can see Mrs. Clinton following in as president of the US.

PS- back to non partisan writing next time, I promise. Thanks for sticking around until the end.