Bill Clinton's Big Lie in the New York Times

Leo Rennert
Former President Bill Clinton, in an op-ed in the Nov. 4 edition of the New York Times, recalls his deep friendship with Yitzhak Rabin, on the 15th anniversary of the Israeli leader's assassination.  As a White House reporter in the 1990s, I can attest to Clinton's personal grief at the loss of his "dear chaver" (Hebrew for dear friend), who partnered with him in launching the Oslo peace process.

Clinton, however, doesn't confine himself to eulogizing his friend.  He's still smarting about his failure to secure his own legacy as a Middle East peacemaker.  And so he engages in wild mythmaking about what might have been if Rabin had lived long enough to nail down a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and what still might be feasible today to end this protracted conflict.

"I continue to believe that, had he lived, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians," Clinton writes.  "With Rabin's leadership, I am confident a new era of enduring partnership and economic prosperity would have emerged."

Such wishful thinking, of course, dispenses with real history by ignoring the refusal of Yasser Arafat and his No. 2, Mahmoud Abbas, to accept generous peace terms for a two-state solution offered by Rabin successors, including Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.  Of all people, Clinton, who presided over the failed 2000 Camp David summit, should know that even Rabin could not have overcome the rejectionist stance of the Palestinian leadership.

But when it comes to an opinion piece on the op-ed page, Clinton is entitled to his wishful rewrite of the potential for Mideast peacemaking during his two terms in the White House.  What he's not entitled to is to inject an outright lie into a fanciful, optimistic tale about current prospects for peace.

"There is a real chance to finish the work Rabin started," Clinton writes.  "The parties are talking (they are not!) Because of the terms accepted in late 2000 by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, supported in greater detail by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and approved by President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians, everyone knows what a final agreement would look like."

Barak-Olmert terms "approved by President Mahmoud Abbas?''  The same Abbas who teamed up with Arafat to torpedo Clinton's 2000 Camp Davvid summit?  The same Abbas, who as president of the Palestinian Authority, subsequently rejected Olmert's even more generous terms -- a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, 95 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps, plus a division of Jerusalem, plus a Palestinian "corridor" between the West Bank and Gaza.

This is mythmaking based on a blatant lie, a complete falsification of recent history. Abbas rejected Olmert's initiative.  He didn't approve it.

Clinton's piece also includes another whopper -- that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has offered Israel "full political recognition and the prospect of security and economic cooperation with a host of Arab and other Muslim countries in exchange for an agreement."  What a sweet deal, right?  Not exactly.  The Saudi plan, endorsed by the Arab League, is based on Israel's acceptance of a "right of return" to Israel of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants -- a demographic formula for eradication of the Jewish state.

All these distortions and the outright lie about Abbas's approval of Israeli peace offers go well beyond Clinton's personal grief for the loss of his friend Rabin and his revisionism of past and present history.  This is Clinton stoking President Obama's fanciful and counter-productive strategy that if only Israel can be pressured into making more and more unilateral concessions, Abbas and the Palestinians are  ready to "approve" peace terms based on Clinton-Barak-Olmert formulas.

While one expects an  op-ed page to offer readers a variety of opinions, a firm line should be drawn against opinion-writers propagating a demonstrable lie, as Clinton does in his misuse of Rabin's legacy as peacemaker.
Former President Bill Clinton, in an op-ed in the Nov. 4 edition of the New York Times, recalls his deep friendship with Yitzhak Rabin, on the 15th anniversary of the Israeli leader's assassination.  As a White House reporter in the 1990s, I can attest to Clinton's personal grief at the loss of his "dear chaver" (Hebrew for dear friend), who partnered with him in launching the Oslo peace process.

Clinton, however, doesn't confine himself to eulogizing his friend.  He's still smarting about his failure to secure his own legacy as a Middle East peacemaker.  And so he engages in wild mythmaking about what might have been if Rabin had lived long enough to nail down a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and what still might be feasible today to end this protracted conflict.

"I continue to believe that, had he lived, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians," Clinton writes.  "With Rabin's leadership, I am confident a new era of enduring partnership and economic prosperity would have emerged."

Such wishful thinking, of course, dispenses with real history by ignoring the refusal of Yasser Arafat and his No. 2, Mahmoud Abbas, to accept generous peace terms for a two-state solution offered by Rabin successors, including Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.  Of all people, Clinton, who presided over the failed 2000 Camp David summit, should know that even Rabin could not have overcome the rejectionist stance of the Palestinian leadership.

But when it comes to an opinion piece on the op-ed page, Clinton is entitled to his wishful rewrite of the potential for Mideast peacemaking during his two terms in the White House.  What he's not entitled to is to inject an outright lie into a fanciful, optimistic tale about current prospects for peace.

"There is a real chance to finish the work Rabin started," Clinton writes.  "The parties are talking (they are not!) Because of the terms accepted in late 2000 by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, supported in greater detail by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and approved by President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians, everyone knows what a final agreement would look like."

Barak-Olmert terms "approved by President Mahmoud Abbas?''  The same Abbas who teamed up with Arafat to torpedo Clinton's 2000 Camp Davvid summit?  The same Abbas, who as president of the Palestinian Authority, subsequently rejected Olmert's even more generous terms -- a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, 95 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps, plus a division of Jerusalem, plus a Palestinian "corridor" between the West Bank and Gaza.

This is mythmaking based on a blatant lie, a complete falsification of recent history. Abbas rejected Olmert's initiative.  He didn't approve it.

Clinton's piece also includes another whopper -- that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has offered Israel "full political recognition and the prospect of security and economic cooperation with a host of Arab and other Muslim countries in exchange for an agreement."  What a sweet deal, right?  Not exactly.  The Saudi plan, endorsed by the Arab League, is based on Israel's acceptance of a "right of return" to Israel of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants -- a demographic formula for eradication of the Jewish state.

All these distortions and the outright lie about Abbas's approval of Israeli peace offers go well beyond Clinton's personal grief for the loss of his friend Rabin and his revisionism of past and present history.  This is Clinton stoking President Obama's fanciful and counter-productive strategy that if only Israel can be pressured into making more and more unilateral concessions, Abbas and the Palestinians are  ready to "approve" peace terms based on Clinton-Barak-Olmert formulas.

While one expects an  op-ed page to offer readers a variety of opinions, a firm line should be drawn against opinion-writers propagating a demonstrable lie, as Clinton does in his misuse of Rabin's legacy as peacemaker.