Monday on CNN’s “Crossfire,” cohost S.E. Cupp prepared the viewing audience to brace themselves for a “doosy” of a statement embedded deep in Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices.

Curious to know what this controversial statement might be? It’s a sentence from her recollections of a trip taken with Bill Clinton to the Palestinian city of Jericho in 1981. Of that trip, Clinton writes:

“In the West Bank, I got my first glimpse of life under occupation for Palestinians, who were denied the dignity and self-determination that Americans take for granted.”

After reading the above statement, Cupp pointed to Tracy Sefl, a representative of the pro-Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary, and emotionally reminded her that Chris Christie was forced to apologize to ‘pro-Israel’ groups in America for using the language of “occupation,” emphatically employing air quotes for the word occupation.

She then looked at Sefl and asked the following:

“Is Hillary Clinton going to apologize to Israel for using that same language?”

Indeed, is Clinton going to apologize for recognizing what the international community, and Israelis themselves, understand as an obvious truth? Is Clinton going to apologize for what President Obama himself described as a “permanent occupation of the West Bank” in comments directed at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu?

Of course, the issue here isn’t about whether or not Clinton misspoke. The issue is about conservatives and those who claim to support Israel making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a foreign policy wedge issue. Perhaps more specifically, this is about making any critique of Israel appear as though it is an attack against the country’s legitimacy.

Credit: Creative Commons

More than anything, though, what occurred on “Crossfire” is a prime example of how ridiculous public discourse in America has become on the topic of Israel, where honest public discourse is virtually unheard of, and where the fight over what can, and cannot, be said about Israel erupts virtually whenever the country arises in conversation.

 

The Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg said it best recently on this issue when he said the following:

“The American fight about what you can’t say about Israel, and where you can’t say it, will always sound to an Israeli as if Lewis Carroll scripted it.”

Of course, this is all so silly when one considers that Clinton, in this same book from which she was quoted, expresses how she would have been much more hawkish than Obama, and would never have asked Israel to freeze settlement construction in the context of peace negotiations.

The real question should be this: does Hillary Clinton need to apologize to Palestinians for not supporting American efforts to stop Israel’s settlement expansions?

Perhaps, but it’s not a question you’ll ever hear on American airwaves.

Credit: Creative Commons

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What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.

Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.


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