Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—December 7, 2015. At a speech yesterday on the alliance between the United States and Israel, Hillary Clinton reiterated her plan to combat terrorism and defeat the Islamic State.
In her remarks to the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum 2015, Clinton stressed the importance of cracking down on the ability of ISIS and other terrorist groups to communicate and spread propaganda online.
“Resolve means depriving jihadists of virtual territory just as we work to deprive them of actual territory,” Clinton said. “They are using websites, social media, chat rooms, and other platforms to celebrate beheadings, recruit future terrorists, and call for attacks. We should work with host companies to shut them down.”
Clinton also observed that a series of trends in the region make the U.S. alliance with Israel “more indispensable than ever.”
Please see below for a full transcript of the remarks:
“Thank you very much, thank you, Haim, for those kind words. Thanks to you and Sheryl and your family for important initiative and for once again gathering us here, together. It’s wonderful being back with so many friends and colleagues, including many from the diplomatic corps and of course many from Israel. I want to thank Martin, Tammy, everyone at Brookings.
“We look to you to help us understand a world that seems more complex and confounding than ever. And we are grateful for your insights and for always helping us reach for statesmanship over partisanship.
“Before I begin, I want to acknowledge the loss of a beloved member of our foreign policy family, Sandy Berger. A friend and counselor to me and to many of us. Sandy was a wise and brilliant man. Although I was not able to be at the service on Friday, I know many of you were, and my husband told me how extraordinary it was to see generations of policymakers that Sandy had inspired and mentored, and to hear his children talk with such love and respect as the father they knew.
“Sandy was an enthusiastic participant in this Forum, a steadfast friend to Israel, and the recipient of an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University. Martin wrote a lovely tribute to Sandy called “The man who never gave up hope for Arab-Israeli peace.” And he’s right, Sandy never gave up on peace. He ever gave up on the potential for diplomacy to end even the most intractable of conflicts. Before I turn to this challenge and how we can and must take the U.S.-Israel relationship to the next level, let me say a few words about events in our own country.
“These past few days, all of us have tried to make sense of yet another senseless terrorist attack. I know that Americans are anxious and fearful. We have reason to be, the threat is real. The need for action is urgent. Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies will continue learning about what led to the massacre in San Bernardino, just as French and Belgian authorities are doing in Paris and Brussels. But this much we do know: the threat from radical jihadism has metastasized and become more complex and challenging. We’re seeing the results of radicalism not just in far-off lands but right here at home, fueled by the Internet. It’s the nexus of terrorism and technology and we have a lot of work to do to end it. As hard as this is, Americans now have to move from fear to resolve. America has beaten bigger threats before, and we will defeat this one as well.
“Resolve means depriving jihadists of virtual territory just as we work to deprive them of actual territory. They are using websites, social media, chat rooms, and other platforms to celebrate beheadings, recruit future terrorists, and call for attacks. We should work with host companies to shut them down. It’s time for an urgent dialogue between the government and not just our government, but government and the high-tech community to confront this problem together. I heard from some of you that you had a great session about technology yesterday. And about how politics and society kind of go on in a linear way and there’s an upward movement, but how technology is a disruptive force, that leads to a real exponential increase in activity and I think one of the experts on a panel said ISIS is an exponential force right now. Unfortunately, I agree with that. And that’s why it requires us to bring together governments and high-tech experts to figure out how we disrupt them. Resolve means supporting also our first responders, like the officer in San Bernardino who said he would take a bullet for the civilians he was rescuing. We owe them our support and gratitude and whatever help they need.
“Local law enforcement should get the support, training, and coordination they need in their communities from counterterrorism experts in Washington. It also means taking a close look at the safeguards in visa programs and working more effectively with our European allies on intelligence and information sharing. And, yes, Congress must act to ensure that no one who is a suspected terrorist can buy guns anywhere in America.
“Resolve also means cutting off the finances that fuel the global jihadist network and demanding that our partners in the Gulf do so as well. Resolve means going after the threat at its source in Iraq and Syria and beyond, and I’ll have more to say about that in a minute. So we must act with courage and clarity. And I think it’s important to remind ourselves that Islam itself is not our adversary. This is not, and we should not let it become a “clash of civilizations.” It is a clash between hate and hope. And the vast majority of Muslims are on our side of the battle unless we drive them away. We can’t buy into the very narrative that radical jihadists use to recruit new followers or alienate partners we want and need at home and abroad with reckless rhetoric. Declaring war on Islam or demonizing the Muslim-American community is not only counter to our values, it plays right into the hands of terrorists.
“Muslim-Americans are our neighbors, co-workers, loved ones, friends. Many are working every day all over our country to prevent radicalization. We should be supporting them, not scapegoating them. But at the same time, none of us can close our eyes to the fact that we do face enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. Radical jihadists, like so many adversaries in our history, underestimate the strength of our national character. Americans will not cower or cave. And we will not turn on each other or turn on our principles. We will defeat those who threaten us.
“We will keep our country safe and strong, free and tolerant. And we will always defend our friends and allies. Today with stand with France, Nigeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, everywhere radical jihadists threaten. And, yes, we stand with our ally and true friend Israel now and forever. And of course Israel is no stranger to terrorism. I’ve sat in Israeli hospital rooms and held the hands of victims wounded by terrorist attacks, listening to doctors as they sometimes even showed me x-rays, describe how much shrapnel was left in a leg, arm, or a head. Today Israel faces growing threats in its own neighborhood. An ISIS affiliate across Israel’s border in the Sinai is becoming more aggressive and sophisticated. It is responsible for the destruction of a Russian airliner with 224 passengers.
And Israeli media reported last week that an ISIS commander from the Sinai visited Gaza, raising the stakes even higher. There’s also a new wave of violence inside Israel itself. Brutal stabbings, shootings, and vehicle attacks that seek to sow fear among the innocent. Israeli children have been killed as have Palestinian children. Just two weeks ago, terrorists murdered an American yeshiva student named Ezra Schwartz in a drive-by shooting. These knifings and other attacks are terrorism and they must be stopped immediately. So also must irresponsible rhetoric used to stoke tensions or spur violence. Palestinian leaders should condemn and combat incitement in all its forms. The right to be safe is not just the right of Americans but the right of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“In this period of peril, Israel needs a strong America by its side. And America needs a strong and secure Israel by our side. It’s in our national interest to have an Israel that remains a bastion of stability and a core ally in a region in chaos. We need a brave democracy whose perseverance and pluralism are a rebuke to every extremist and tyrant. We need “a light unto the nations” as darkness threatens.Today, three trends in the region and the world are converging and making our alliance with Israel more indispensable than ever. The first is a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability from North Africa to South Asia. The second is Iran’s continued aggression. And the third is the growing effort to delegitimize Israel on the world stage. America and Israel need to address these threats together. And we must take an already strong relationship to the next level.
“We have to develop a common strategic vision and pursue a coordinated approach. Deepen our cooperation and consultation across the board. Remind our peoples how much they have in common. And keep our relationship always above partisan politics. So we need to see how our challenges intersect and see the whole chessboard. I want to say a few words about each of the converging trends. First, the rise of ISIS and the struggle against radical jihadism. Our security and the security of free people everywhere depends on waging and winning this fight. Our goal must not to deter or contain ISIS. Our goal must be to defeat ISIS. I have put forth a three-prong plan to do that. One: Deny ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria by leading an intensified air campaign and working with local and regional forces on the ground.
“Second, dismantle the global infrastructure of terror, the networks that supply radical jihadists with money, weapons, and fighters, and stop them from recruiting and inspiring. And third: Toughen our defenses at home — and those of our partners — against external and homegrown threats. As part of our ongoing war against terrorist organizations, we’ve been operating under an authorization to use military force since 9/11.
“I think the time has come to update that authorization to ensure that we have the tools we need not only to fight ISIS but all international networks of terrorists. That effort has stalled, and I hope that the President and Congress will pick it back up. There is no alternative to American leadership. But the entire world must be part of this fight, and I welcome the new commitments from the United Kingdom, Germany, and others in recent days.
“Now, an effective fight on the ground against ISIS is essential, but that does not mean deploying tens of thousands of American combat troops. It does means stepping up efforts to get more Arab and Kurdish fighters into the fight against ISIS on both sides of the Iraq Syrian border. Supporting the Iraqi security forces while pressuring Baghdad to pursue a more inclusive and effective approach is essential. And immediately deploying the Special Operations forces that President Obama has already authorized with more to follow as more Syrians get into the fight.
We also have to demand that our Arab and Turkish partners carry their share of the burden, with military, financial, and diplomatic contributions. We will do our part, but it’s their fight, too, and they need to act.
“Now I’m glad Turkey in particular has pledged to step up, now it needs to follow through, including by sealing its border. Dealing with the conflict in Syria with respect to Assad is central to this whole effort. We need to continue Secretary Kerry’s efforts to move toward a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Syria that paves the way for new leadership, and enables Syrians from every community to take on ISIS. Investing the Russians in this outcome, and getting them to step up and do their part, will be difficult but essential.
“We have to pursue a transition away from Assad and an intensified fight ISIS simultaneously. We’re not going to get Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIS in earnest without the credible prospect of a transition. And that’s going to take more pressure and leverage. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve proposed creating a no fly zone and safe havens, as well as more robust support for opposition forces. We also have to do more to support Syria’s neighbors, especially Jordan and Lebanon, as they take in massive numbers of refugees fleeing both ISIS and Assad, so instability doesn’t spread. And finally, it’s crucial that we embed our mission to defeat ISIS within a broader struggle against radical jihadism.
“Extremist groups like ISIS feed off instability and conflict, and there is no shortage of that in the Middle East today. Decades of repression, poverty corruption, a lack of pluralism and tolerance, turned the region into a powder keg. Now we have long faced hard choices in the Middle East about how to balance our interest in working with any reliable partner, even those who don’t share our values, with our commitment to democratic principles and human rights. Those dilemmas aren’t going away, and we can’t forget that lasting security and stability will only come with real reform that provides more space in both the economy and the political system for more people. That’s why we have to work with our friends and partners to support economic and political modernization and train effective and accountable local intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism services. And, once and for all, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Kuwaitis and others must stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations, and stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path toward extremism. The second trend that makes a strengthened U.S-Israeli relationship essential is Iran’s increasingly aggressive regional ambitions.
“Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East. Iran supports bad actors from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen and beyond. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its proxies are attempting to establish a beachhead on the Golan from which to threaten Israel.
“In Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is amassing an arsenal of rockets and artillery. And the Ayatollahs continue to threaten Israel’s destruction at every opportunity. We all agree that Iran can never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. Now, as you know, I support the nuclear agreement negotiated by the world’s great powers. Is it perfect? No, no agreement like that ever is. But I believe that if it is aggressively implemented and enforced, this deal will help us prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
“That said, it is not enough to say yes to this deal. We have to say yes and we will vigorously enforce it. Yes and we will embed it in a larger effort to counter Iran across the region. How we handle enforcement in these early months will set the tone for years to come, so we have to get it right. Our message to Iran must be unequivocal. There will be consequences for even small violations and we are ready to snap back sanctions into place. Our approach must be distrust and verify. There can be no doubt in Tehran that if we see any indication that Iran’s leaders are violating their commitment in the deal not to seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons we will stop them. And we will make sure the Iranians and the world understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including taking military action. And we should also should hold Iran and its Revolutionary Guard Corps accountable for their sponsorship of terrorism, ballistic missile development, human rights violations, detention of Americans, and other illicit behavior like cybercrime.
“Now make no mistake, Iran will test our resolve. They have already started to do so, with a ballistic missile test and other provocative behavior. We have to respond to these provocations, including with further sanctions designations as necessary. The third trend is the growing effort around the world to isolate and delegitimize Israel.
“This is not a new challenge. As Secretary of State, I called out systemic, structural anti-Israel bias at the UN and fought to block the one-sided Goldstone Report. Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we need to repudiate efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, is the latest front in this battle. Demonizing Israeli scientists and intellectuals, even young students. Comparing Israel to South African apartheid. Now no nation, no nation, is above criticism, but this is wrong and it should stop immediately. Some proponents of BDS may hope that pressuring Israel will lead to peace. Well that’s wrong too. No outside force is going to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“Only a two-state solution can provide Palestinians independence, sovereignty and dignity, and provide Israelis the secure and recognized borders of a democratic, Jewish state. Now, it’s no secret that the most recent efforts to advance direct negotiations didn’t yield much tangible progress. But I remain convinced and I think it’s important we all remain convinced, that peace is possible. So I refuse to give up on the goal of two states for two people. And no matter how unattainable it may seem at the moment, Israelis and Palestinians shouldn’t give up on it either.
“Instead, they should demand that their leaders seek every opportunity to demonstrate their commitment. Inaction is not an option. And a “one-state solution” is no solution. It is a prescription for endless conflict. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror. And Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. Now for most Americans, it is hard to imagine the reality that exists for many Palestinians and recently for Israelis. So as difficult as this is, we need to look for opportunities to move forward together. Everyone has to do their part to create the conditions for progress by taking positive actions that can rebuild trust and by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. And at the same time we should also oppose any unilateral action at the United Nations.
“Now I know that sometimes this process can start to feel like that famous definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But circumstances do change. And most importantly, demographics change. Technology changes. Geopolitics changes. Today, in the Middle East, Israel and its Arab neighbors find that many of their strategic interests are increasingly aligned. That creates room for greater coordination. Neither Israel nor its Arab neighbors want to see Iran increase its influence in the region or violent jihadists gain footholds. So we should encourage more intelligence sharing and security cooperation like the quiet partnership between Israel and Egypt to stabilize the Sinai. And you may have seen that Israel plans to open a diplomatic mission in the UAE to participate in the International Renewable Energy Agency, which I was proud to support locating in Abu Dhabi. Imagine how that kind of step could be followed by broader diplomatic engagement.
“Converging interests between Israel and key Arab states may make it possible to promote progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and clearly progress between Israelis and Palestinians could contribute toward greater cooperation between Israel and Arabs. Right now, Arab leaders could send a powerful message by reviving and updating the Arab Peace Initiative and laying out a process for normalizing relations with Israel and accepting it as a Jewish state alongside an independent Palestine. And Israel could seize the opportunity to directly respond to such an initiative. This is no magic wand, but there’s a real strategic opportunity worth exploring.
“That said, it’s also time to stop pretending that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will solve all of the Middle East’s problems. For too long Arab states have used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse to avoid facing their own challenges at home. The people of the region have shown that they will no longer accept this. Their leaders should drop the excuses and pick up the pace of getting their own houses in order.
“And as they do, the United States will support them. We should reaffirm that the Gulf is a region of vital interest to America and commit to sustaining a robust military relationship with our partners there to defend against radical jihadism and Iranian aggression in any form. So if you add it all up, radical jihadism on the rise, Iran seeking to extend its reach, efforts to delegitimize Israel, we can see how crucial it is for the United States and Israel to stand together closer than ever.
“And we can see how Israel’s search for security, stability, and peace goes hand-in-hand with the broader effort the United States must lead to secure and stabilize the Middle East. Now, we know our governments have had their share of disagreements in recent years. But the relationship has always been stronger and deeper than the headlines might lead you to believe. Under President Obama, we achieved unprecedented defense and intelligence collaboration and supported the development of the Iron Dome air defense system, which saved many Israeli lives when Hamas rockets began to fly from Gaza. As Secretary of State, I worked with the Israeli government to negotiate a cease-fire that ended those rocket attacks in 2012 and vigorously defended Israel at the UN and in other international bodies. Now, as I’ve said, it’s time, it’s the time to take our alliance to the next level.
“A centerpiece of that effort must be ensuring that Israel continues to maintain its qualitative military edge. The United States should help further bolster Israeli air defenses, including to cover Israel’s north, and make it a top priority to develop better tunnel detection technology to prevent arms smuggling and kidnapping. And we need to ensure that a new 10-year defense memorandum of understanding sends a clear message to Israel’s enemies that they will never prevail. But we all know that our common security commitments are about more than lists of weapons or dollars and cents. They are about understanding each other. Acting together. Being on the same page. So let’s expand high-level U.S.-Israel strategic consultations. Bring our best minds together for deeper discussions about enforcing the nuclear deal, countering Iran’s regional ambitions, and developing new defense technologies for the future.
“If Israel and the United States stand shoulder-to-shoulder and present a united front to the region and the world, I am confident we can meet the threats and challenges we face today.
“I was born just a few months before the State of Israel and my generation came of age admiring the talent and tenacity of the Israeli people. We marveled as they coaxed a dream into reality out of the harsh desert soil, and built a thriving, raucous democracy in a region full of adversaries and autocrats determined to push Israel into the sea. We watched a small nation fight fearlessly for its right to exist. And Israel’s pursuit of peace was as inspiring as its prowess in war. It was one of the great honors of my life to call Yitzhak Rabin a friend and to witness that historic handshake on the White House lawn. Many Americans feel a deep emotional connection with Israel. In its story we see some of our own, and the story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination. We see a homeland for people long oppressed, and a thriving economy that is a model for how innovation, entrepreneurship, and freedom can deliver prosperity even in unforgiving circumstances. So we are two nations woven together. Lands built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom, given life by democratic principles, and sustained by the service and sacrifice of generations of patriots.
“Yet even with all this history, even with all our common interests and shared values, none of us can or should take this relationship for granted. With every passing year, we must tie the bonds tighter. Reach out to the next generation, we can bring them with us and do the hard necessary work of friendship. Because there is a new generation in both countries today that does not remember that shared past. Young Americans who didn’t see Israel in a fight for survival again and again. Young Israelis who didn’t see the United States broker peace at Camp David or kindle hope at Oslo or stand behind Israel when it was attacked. They are growing up in a different world. And the future of our relationship depends on building new ties for a new time. Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Well, tonight is the first night of Chanukah, when the Jewish people in Israel and all over the world praise the Almighty for the miracles for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts.
“This season and this moment in history is a time once again for mighty deeds and saving acts. For us to rededicate and renew our great alliance. For us once again to light candles of hope that will shine through the darkness for our peoples and all peoples, if we do it together. Thank you all very much.”
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