From the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf, Arab states were rocked by extraordinary unrest last week, as throngs of protesters clamored for freedom. Gunfire and tear gas were just some of the weapons deployed against them, as the region's tyrants clung to power, even if it meant spilling their own people's blood.
Not surprisingly, the demonstrators' cries for help resonated across the globe, as people witnessed history unfolding before their eyes. Indeed, the scenes grabbed the attention of the international community everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except for the UN.
For even as Libyan troops were massacring dozens and the Bahraini security forces were opening fire on funeral processions, the Security Council was preoccupied with its favorite whipping boy – the Jewish state.In a meeting last Friday, the august body deliberated over a resolution that would have condemned Israel for constructing homes in Judea and Samaria.
For several precious hours, diplomats were consumed with discussing not how Arabs were slaughtering Arabs, but the "threat" posed by an Israeli Jew who decides to extend his porch.
This farce was finally brought to an end when the US representative, Susan Rice, grudgingly raised her hand and vetoed the proposed excoriation of Israel.
But what a calamitous stain on the already dubious reputation of the UN. Instead of addressing the hotbutton issue of the day, it chose to focus on Palestinian propaganda.
This particular circus came to town after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ignored pleas from US President Barack Obama in a 50-minute phone call and insisted on bringing the proposed resolution to a vote.
Abbas brazenly defied Obama's request to desist, underlining yet again the disdain with which the American president is viewed by many in this part of the world.
They know an amateur when they see one, and the fact that Abbas, who is dependent on American funding, training and support, would so boldly ignore his patron's request speaks volumes about the level of respect Obama currently commands.
NEVERTHELESS, THE American decision to veto the resolution could have marked a turning point of sorts, at least in US-Israel relations. After two rocky years, it might have signified a change of heart on Washington's part, an attempt to heal the rift that has developed since Obama took office. There Israel was, alone and in the dock, and America was stepping forward to stand by its one true friend in the Middle East.
But, alas, it was not to be.
Regrettably, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and pick up where the Security Council left off.
In an interview with Christiane Amanpour that was taped on Friday, she went out of her way to single out Israel's stance vis-à-vis Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for a tongue-lashing.
"I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate," she declared.
This, of course, was a transparent attempt by Clinton to toss a bone to the Palestinians, despite the diplomatic saliva they had so unceremoniously aimed at her boss' face.
She was attempting to contain their fury over America's veto, which effectively quashed the censure of Israel they desperately sought.
Inevitably, it was not enough, and the Palestinians still reacted with rage. So rather than achieving her aim, the only thing Clinton accomplished was letting off some steam and taking a gratuitous potshot at the Jewish state.
She handed additional ammunition to those who seek to defame and delegitimize Israel, while needlessly highlighting a policy dispute between Washington and Jerusalem.
Nice going, Hillary.
Worse yet, Clinton's assertion that Jewish towns and cities in Judea and Samaria are "illegitimate" is nothing less than calumny. The only thing illegitimate about the settlements is the criticism directed against them.
The Jewish people have returned to Judea and Samaria by right. These areas were liberated in a war of self-defense in 1967, and are the cradle of our heritage and civilization.
Our ownership of this land is rooted in history, morality and justice, and it is a divine gift to the people of Israel.
To suggest otherwise is an insult to history and an affront to Jewish destiny.
Yet that is precisely what Clinton did when she sought to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our presence in these areas.
Here, too, she missed an opportunity. When speaking to Amanpour, she could have – and should have! – held up Israel as an example of how to build a democracy.
ONCE UPON a time, Clinton did just that. In December 2005, when she was still a senator from New York, she gave the keynote address at Yeshiva University's annual Hanukka dinner shortly after returning from the Jewish state. "Israel," Clinton said, "is not only our ally; it is a beacon of what democracy can and should mean... if the people of the Middle East are not sure what democracy means, let them look to Israel."
Precisely now, when the region is thirsting for democracy, this is what Clinton should have stressed. Doing so would have strengthened relations between the two countries, and set a high bar for Israel's neighbors.
What a shame that instead of heaping praise on Israel, she chose to heap scorn.
Sadly, in the age of Obama, this appears to be par for the course.