Suzanne Fields

This has been a bad week in Israeli-American relations -- more accurately, Israeli-Obama White House relations. Three White House players who should know better (and probably do) dumped on the only democracy in the Middle East, boldly contradicting the president's boast to Jewish donors that he's the most Israel-supporting president in history. (Where does that leave Harry Truman?)

Hillary Clinton went out of her way to pick a fight with Israel in the name of feminist principle. The secretary of state thought she was speaking "just among us girls" behind closed doors at the left-leaning Brookings Institute, but her remarks nevertheless made headlines in the Israeli newspapers.

Hillary was shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that Orthodox Jews segregate women and men, and buses in their Israeli neighborhoods acquiesced by reserving front seats for men. This naturally reminded her of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., and ultimately set off the modern civil-rights movement. But there is no such legally required segregation in Israel, by sex, race or otherwise, and Israeli courts have said so.

She was shocked again, poor lady, when she heard that several ultra-orthodox soldiers walked out of a military concert to avoid hearing women sing; it was against their faith to listen to women in song. The secretary of state apparently thought this sounded like Iran, and said so. Another cheap shot, which did not go unanswered in Israel. "The exclusion and segregation of women is something totally unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped," Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told the daily Ha'aretz, "but to cite this as a threat to Israel's democracy is a big leap."

Hillary would do better to measure her friends in Saudi Arabia against her feminist principles. Saudi women can't drive without a close male-relative chaperone, and if they do they risk a lashing. Saudi women have been promised the vote five years hence, but after decades of broken promises they're not holding their breaths. Women in Israel already share power with men, and have done so from the founding of the modern Jewish state. There must be someone in Foggy Bottom who could let Hillary in on the secret.

Hillary's feminist principles were offended, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking at the same conference, took a different poke at the Jewish state. He blames Israel for delaying negotiations with the Palestinians, as though it was the Israelis' fault there hasn't been "peace" talks for a while.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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