Washington Babylon — April 22, 2008, 9:02 am

Hillary: We’ll “totally obliterate” Iran

A reader from England called my attention to this item from today’s Haaretz, in which Hillary Clinton–seeking to outdo Barack Obama in the candidates’ frenzied bidding war to be the most “pro-Israel”–promises to essentially wipe Iran from the map if it nuked Israel.

It goes without saying that an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would prompt a major international crisis, however, as Luca Menato, the reader from England, writes:

This [story] from Haaretz reports a response to a question posed to Mrs. Clinton during a breakfast TV interview yesterday. It follows on from the equally unsettling interrogation of both Democratic candidates during the televised presidential debate held last week. Both candidates reassured their audience and the audience further afield that they considered the security of Israel to be paramount and central to their world vision.

Yet that such a chilling question should be posed so regularly and considered so unremarkable by political commentators in the United States is very unsettling indeed. It would suggest that the American public would more readily entertain even more war over their cereals in the morning–even nuclear war–than witness any significant threat to the security of this very particular Middle Eastern nation…

Finally, can you imagine any nation in the world where such a question would be considered reasonable and appropriate during an election debate? Can you imagine the reaction in the West if candidates in Russia, China, India, Japan or Germany responded with this kind of martial rhetoric to media questions over breakfast?

Incidentally, after reading the Haaretz story, read this story as well:

Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal on Monday said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and would grant Israel a 10-year hudna, or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from those areas. Meshal’s comments were one of the clearest outlines Hamas has given for what it would do if Israel withdrew from the territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. He suggested Hamas would accept Israel’s existence alongside a Palestinian state on the rest of the lands Israel has held since 1948.

However, Meshal told reporters in Damascus that Hamas would not formally recognize Israel. “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition,” he said. He said he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during talks Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.

The Israeli government and some of its supporters in the United States are already belittling Meshal’s remarks, but they are fairly astonishing nonetheless. Does this mean that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is immediately reachable? Of course not, and there may well follow a hardening of rhetoric from Hamas. But the very fact that Meshal made such statements is significant, and suggests that the group recognizes it will ultimately need to make compromises in order to reach a political settlement. Unfortunately, there seems to be no senior Israeli officials ready to do the same, and no American political figures, from the Bush administration to the major candidates, willing to seize such an opportunity and try to make something of it.

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