Hillary Clinton: Anti-Israel protesters ‘don’t know very much’ about the Middle East

‘Propaganda is not education,’ says ex US secretary of state, slamming campus activists for ignorance of Palestinians’ rejection of husband Bill Clinton’s 2000 peace initiative

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an interview with MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' program, aired May 9, 2024. (Screen capture: Youtube/NBC, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an interview with MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' program, aired May 9, 2024. (Screen capture: Youtube/NBC, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protest movement that has swept American colleges, saying in an interview Thursday that student activists were misinformed by propaganda on social media and in the classroom.

“I have had many conversations with a lot of young people over the last many months. They don’t know very much at all about the history of the Middle East or frankly about history in many areas of the world, including in our own country,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Student-led demonstrations against Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza have roiled US campuses since the fighting broke out on October 7, when the Palestinian terror group led a thousands-strong invasion into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking over 250 hostages.

The pro-Palestinian rallies — which some Jewish groups have described as antisemitic — have assumed a sharper tenor since April, when a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University was violently dispersed by law enforcement, summoned to the campus for the first time in over half a century by the university’s embattled president, Minouche Shafik.

Clinton, a professor of public affairs at Columbia, said students protesting the war were ignorant of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process spearheaded by her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, which collapsed in 2000 when an unprecedented land-for-peace offer by then-prime minister Ehud Barak was rejected by late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Under her husband, Clinton said, “an offer was made to the Palestinians for a state on 96% of the existing territory occupied by the Palestinians with 4% of Israel to be given to reach 100% of the amount of territory that was hoped for.”

Arafat’s rejection of that offer — attributed by Clinton to his fear of being assassinated like past peacemakers, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and “our dear, dear friend,” Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin — was “one of the great tragedies of history,” said Clinton.

“This is a very important piece of history to understand if you’re going to take any kind of position with respect to what’s going on right now,” said Clinton.

The former Democratic nominee for US president continued to criticize student protesters’ knowledge of the conflict, much of which, she claimed, came from “willfully false… incredibly slanted, pro-Hamas, anti-Israel” propaganda sources.

“Propaganda is not education,” said Clinton, adding: “Anybody who is teaching in a university or anyone who is putting content on social media should be held responsible for what they include and what they exclude.

File – United States President Bill Clinton watches as then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak (R) and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (C) joke with each other about which one of them will enter first the door first, after walking on the grounds of Camp David, Maryland, July 11, 2000. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File)

“We have to do a better job… with young people in trying to help them understand how to filter and interpret the information they’re getting. We also need to do a better job in our classrooms, particularly at the college or university level, not to fall into easy absolutes — you’re either for or against. Life is too complicated, history certainly is,” Clinton concluded.

The former first lady’s comments drew backlash from pro-Palestinian commentators.

“As Hillary Clinton condescends to student protesters, she ignores [first] the supposedly great deal that Bill Clinton offered Palestinians didn’t demarcate borders or address refugees… [second] that [it] doesn’t justify bombing and starving civilians today,” wrote Kennet Roth, a former director of the international group Human Rights Watch.

Clinton had already provoked the ire of pro-Palestinian activists by criticizing their call for a ceasefire a month into the war between Israel and Hamas.

File – Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton meets with families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas, in New York, December 21, 2023. (Photo: Hostages and Missing Families Forum)

“Remember, there was a ceasefire on October 6, that Hamas broke by their barbaric assault on peaceful civilians,” she told ABC in November. “There was a ceasefire. It did not hold because Hamas chose to break it.”

Her criticism of the student protests follows comments she made in a February interview with MSNBC, in which she insisted that demonstrators need to obey the law.

“There’s a role for protest, and I think there should be rules set, guardrails set,” she said at the time. “People who violate the rules have to be held accountable. You can’t have a responsible debate about whatever your point of view is if you’re screaming at each other.”

During that interview, Clinton also slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who she said was not “trustworthy.”

“If he’s an obstacle to a ceasefire, if he’s an obstacle to exploring what’s to be done the day after, he absolutely needs to go,” she said in the interview.

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