Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Thank-You Hillary Clinton

Yes, I wrote that.  No, I have not been a big fan of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and I was against Obama appointing her to Secretary of State. (Of course, I’m happy that my first choice, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) was passed over, because it would  have been far more embarrassing for him to back out of the S of S post due to Federal Elections investigations than it was when he removed himself from Commerce!  Sheesh!) I have never shared the rightwing “Clinton hatred” (which has been shifted to Obama), but I was critical of her husband’s presidency (mostly as squandered potential for good) and her candidacy for the presidency. 

But I think a “prophetic stance” that ONLY yells at politicians when they screw up is counterproductive.  One should ALWAYS send notes and phone calls of appreciation when a politician, ANY politician, does something right.  It greatly increases the chances they will continue to do so. 

So, today, I sent Secretary Clinton a thank-you note because in Israel this week, she publicly criticized the government of Israel and the government of the city of Jerusalem for demolitions and planned demolitions of Palestinain homes in East Jerusalem.  She rightly called it a violation of Israel’s agreements on the so-called “road map” to a two state peace.  (She did not say,  as she could have, that it was a violation of International Law and about a thousand UN resolutions, including many agreed  to by several U.S. administrations of both parties,  but she said something!) Make no mistake–as hard as it will be for my international readers to understand, in the U.S. context this is an act of political courage.  Secretary Clinton will get TONS of hatemail and criticism from rightwing pro-Israel-no-matter-what groups and their well-financed media allies over this. ANY criticism, no matter how small, of Israel by an American politician carries a political price that it does not anywhere else–not even IN Israel.

So, peace folk and progressives, whatever we feel about Secretary Clinton overall–or the evolving Obama administration’s  approach to Middle East peace–we need to put all that aside and have Secretary Clinton’s back on this one.  Take time out, now,  and email her  and thank  her for speaking out against Palestinian home demolitions.  If you are one of my international readers, please join in this effort.  If you want a different kind of U.S. presence in the world, you need to cheer us when we do the right thing (even baby steps) as well as criticize us when we do wrong. (You can also suggest other concrete steps for her to take. I urged her to speak out against the Israeli wall that eats up Palestinian land and turns the West Bank into a giant open air prison and I urged her to publicly call for Hamas to join a unity govt. with Fatah so that they could air their concerns to the U.S. through Fatah without the U.S. having to negotiate with a group it considers terrorist.  Baby steps–but those get the ball rolling.)

Now,  after emailing or phoning the Secretary and thanking her, send a copy of that email  to President Obama, and (if you are a U.S. citizen) to your Congressperson and Senators–regardless of party.  Then write your local newspaper and commend Secretary Clinton’s words in public. If you are a Christian minister or Jewish Rabbi, PLEASE take this last extra step–because the media will be flooded with  condemnations of Clinton’s words by rightwing Jews and Christians who claim to speak for everyone of their faith.  If you belong to a group like Churches for a Middle East Peace or Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, or Rabbis for Human Rights, etc., put that in your message. It will raise awareness of the diversity of views and, hopefully, change the nature of the debate in the media and Congress.

March 5, 2009 - Posted by | human rights., Israel-Palestine, just peacemaking


  1. Michael,I commend Hilary Clinton. She spoke the truth. Remember that a wall keeps people out, but it keeps them in as well. As for Hamas and Fatah, based on their past actions and their stated purposes they are terrorist entities. Yes, Israel has violated international law but so have the Arabs. Let’s put the whole truth out here. Until the Jews and Arabs renounce violence and hatred there can be little hope for real lasting peace in the Middle East. If we excoriate Israel we must excoriate the Arabs or we are hypocrites.

    Comment by Paul | March 5, 2009

  2. Paul, the thing is, American politicians REGULARLY criticize Palestinians WITHOUT ever balancing that with criticism of Israel. That’s the U.S. norm and any other action is usually punished by our media. It is easier to have critical discussions of Israeli policy in Israel (read the online English editions of The Jerusalem Post or Ha’aretz, the largest newspapers, and see what I mean) than in the U.S. I don’t HAVE to thank Clinton for condemning Palestinian violence–she’ll does it as often as she breathes, like every other U.S. politician.

    And Fatah is not a terrorist organization–although it could become one if the young get completely discouraged. Fatah renounced violence and recognized Israel as part of the Oslo process in 1991–but this is now widely viewed in Palestine as a failure, as an excuse for Israel to keep occupying their land without EVER getting to a two state solution. The number of house demolitions and of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories INCREASED after Oslo.

    That’s what led to the election of Hamas. Palestinians said, if recognizing Israel gets us nowhere or actually losing ground, maybe we should go with the extremists.

    And, yes, both sides keep playing into the hands of their extremist wings. Peacemaking will not be easy.

    But Sec. Clinton took a huge step in the right direction. In response, Israel is pulling its Ambassador home.

    This is why we have to have her back on this.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 5, 2009

  3. I have her back and hopefully a true and honest effort will be made to achieve peace in the Middle East by all parties. You said that Fatah “renounced violence”. Okay Fatah was once a terrorist otganization. Thus semantics ! 🙂

    Comment by Paul | March 6, 2009

  4. More than semantics, Paul–because, by definition, most of the main ISRAELI parties started out as terrorist organizations in the 40s!

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 6, 2009

  5. Michael, the bottom line is whether or not the Arabs and Israelis want peace. A culture of violence – action and reaction has been in place for 60 years. Perhaps divine intervention is the only solution.

    Comment by Paul | March 7, 2009

  6. “Perhaps divine intervention is the only solution.” Then let us pray for peace. But God usually works in human affairs through human means, so let us pray for Secretary Clinton, Mr. Mitchell, and all who work for peace in the Holy Land. Let us pray for the Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers who have been working these 60 years without much reward: Rabbis for Human Rights; Sabeel; Women in Black; Holy Land Trust; The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions; The Palestinian Peace and Human Rights Center; The Muslim Peace Fellowship; The Jewish Peace Fellowship; Churches for a Middle East Peace and many others. Let us do OUR part by urging our politicians to work for peace, denouncing violence wherever we see it, informing ourselves of the issues beyond the shallow reports of the U.S. evening news and working to inform others, etc. And one of the ways God can use us is to thank politicians that dare to hold Israel to the same standards as Palestinians–and who let the media know that rightwing “Israel Can Do NO Wrong” Christians do NOT speak for all churches (and who completely ignore the Palestinian Christians who are caught in the Middle). Let us remind our churches to pray for Israeli and Palestinian peace every Sunday. Let us challenge those who would justify violence or extremism–and any theology or political ideology that would support such.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 7, 2009

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