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Did Hillary Get the Message?

Yesterday I noted that one of the Jewish groups in attendance at Monday’s White House meeting, the Orthodox Union, openly criticized the president’s desire for “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. Today the OU is touting a speech by Hillary Clinton in which she included this:

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.”

[.  .  .]

“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.”

The OU says this is “a step in a better direction.”

Is this an effort to correct administration policy? Or is Hillary Clinton getting out of the line of fire? After all, other Jewish groups may begin to digest the message from Obama (that the U.S. must distance itself from Israel, that the reason no progress was made in the Bush administration was excessive support for Israel by the U.S. and that settlements are the key to unlocking the stalemate). They too may decide they don’t much like what they are hearing — and really don’t like being told to engage in self-reflection. And after all, Hillary probably doesn’t want to be tagged as the most anti-Israel secretary of state since James Baker.

And while we are talking about the lack of progress in the “peace process” over the last eight years, a friend sends on this column, which recites the peace deal Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2008. Here was the reported deal:

Olmert’s map proposed that the Palestinians establish their state on 93.5 percent of the West Bank, receiving another 5.8 percent through a land exchange with Israel. The rest would come in a “safe passage” corridor from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The map left the settlement blocs in Israel’s control – Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion – proposing in exchange lands in the southern Hebron Hills, the Judean Hills and the Beit She’an Valley. According to the Palestinians, Olmert also proposed dividing the no-man’s-land near Latrun. All told, Abbas was offered an area equal to the whole West Bank – 100 percent.

As for Jerusalem, Olmert proposed dividing sovereignty between the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, and leaving the Old City’s “holy basin” and its surroundings without sovereignty, under the management of an international committee with the participation of Israel, Palestine, the United States, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The most original suggestion involved the refugee issue. Olmert did not recognize the Palestinians’ demand for a right of return. Rather, he agreed to take in a small number of refugees over five years, “about the number of people that can fit into the Muqata [Palestinian government headquarters] in Ramallah” – that is, between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

Well, perhaps friends of Israel could remind Obama of all this the next time they meet. Obama has a tendency to deny and rewrite history to serve his agenda. Calling him on it, setting the record straight and making the case for a policy based on facts and history would all be steps in a “better direction.” If nothing else, a more candid discussion both in private and public about the administration’s misguided and a-factual position regarding Israel might spur some healthy debate within the administration.