A Smart and Necessary Move by Hillary Clinton

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Hillary Clinton has apparently chewed-out Bibi Netanyahu for allowing his rogue coalition partner, the Shas Party, to subvert Joe Biden's trip to Israel, and more importantly, for creating conditions on the ground that subvert the moderate Palestinian government in Ramallah, and subvert any hopes for negotiations, direct or indirect. Hillary has picked a smart fight, which is to say, a fight that is not about Iran, a subject on which Israelis are unified, but a fight about East Jerusalem housing growth, a subject on which the majority of Israelis are ambivalent, or worse.

It has been a truism that no Israeli prime minister can survive long in the job after having angered America; Bibi had been proving this truism wrong, because Israelis are more frightened of Iran's nuclear program than they are of alienating the Obama Administration. But the majority of Israelis see settlements as a possible impediment to peace (to the degree that they even believe peace is possible), and they certainly don't see a settlement freeze as an existential threat to their country. So Hillary has picked the right fight, and the Obama Administration has picked the right person to pick the fight: A former senator from New York who is married to one of Israel's favorite ex-presidents. I might be over-optimistic here, but maybe this scolding will help Bibi focus on what's important: Keeping Israel in America's good graces so that the two countries can together figure out a way to neutralize the Iranian threat.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/03/a-smart-and-necessary-move-by-hillary-clinton/37443/