Clinton Confirmation Hearings: Good or Bad?

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

First of all, hello! We at Moment and ITM hope you had a lovely holiday season. Here’s to a beautiful 2009! (Or at least one without World War 3 and total economic meltdown.)

In case you haven’t seen it, our January/February issue is out, with a pretty set of photographs chronicling Jewish/black relations in this country to celebrate the inauguration of our 44th president. Darn, what’s his name again?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

The important news of the day involves yesterday’s confirmation hearings of Hillary Clinton for Secratary of State.  Clinton took the opportunity to prepare the country for a new kind of State Department that would have a renewed focus on diplomacy and direct negotiation with Iran and other previously untouchable rogue states; thereby signaling a break from the kind of shunning politics the Condoleeza Rice State Department often utilized.

We are all hanging on every thread of information that could clue us in to how the Obama administration will deal with Israel, especially with the Gaza crisis upon us. Clinton did not get into specifics, but she drew the line on inclusive diplomacy at Hamas. Here’s what she said, from the LA Times:

“The president-elect and I understand — and are deeply sympathetic to — Israel’s desire to defend itself under current conditions and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets,” she said. “However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

Clinton echoed the Bush administration stand in part by declaring: “You cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements. That is just for me an absolute. That is the United States government’s position; that is the president-elect’s position.”

For those that were worried about Obama being elected as a secret Muslim and immediately turning his back on Israel by throwing his weight behind the Palestinians, relax. It is evident from Clinton’s comments that the Obama administration will stand behind Israel.

The major question is how exactly will Clinton, Obama, and the other foreign policy people in the administration deal with the Gaza crisis? Will they put added pressure on Israel to end their incursion? Or will they support Israel’s stated goal of ending Gazan missiles at all costs?

And the confirmation hearings were not so positive if you believe that the Bush administration is/was correct in ostracizing rogue states like Iran. In so far as Iran and its ongoing effort to develop nuclear weapons still remains a perpetual threat to Israel, we will keep a steady eye on how Clinton and the Obama administration’s new diplomacy works out.

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