Every year, D.C.-based think tank the Brookings Institution hosts, through its Saban Center for Middle East Policy, a conference of government officials and Mideast-focused thinkers. This year's featured a keynote speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was introduced by a polished, effusive, eight-minute video tribute. The video, embedded above, included interviews with a few American figures – President Obama and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, among others – and with several foreign leaders: one each from Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates, plus four of Israel's most prominent politicians.
The Israelis were granted big chunks of screen time as they offered Clinton their praise. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, seemed to stop just short of endorsing a Clinton presidential run. "As someone who knows a thing or two about political comebacks, I can tell you that I don't think we've heard the last of Hillary Clinton," he said. Some were less effusive: President Shimon Peres offered that he appreciated Clinton's "understanding" that "peace calls for understanding and not for impositions," which seemed a bit like a jab at someone, who knows whom, who did not share this "understanding."
"The film was like an international endorsement four years in advance of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary," New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote from the conference, convinced by the video that Clinton would run in 2016. Here are the Israeli leaders' comments in the video. For all the talk of Netanyahu's possible desire for a Mitt Romney victory in November's presidential election, the Romney campaign never got anything from the Israeli leader quite as full-throated as this.
Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister: I've just had the opportunity to work with her to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Hillary Clinton is a strong and determined leader, she's principled and pragmatic. She knows how to get the job done. ... As someone who knows a thing or two about political comebacks, I can tell you that I don't think we've heard the last of Hillary Clinton.
Tzipi Livi, former opposition leader: I believe that what makes Hillary Hillary is something that just few leaders have, and this is the inner compass. And a deep understanding of right and wrong. And this is what makes Hillary [a] leader. ... So in the end, it's not about being a good politician, it's about being a human being.
Shimon Peres, president: Hillary always surprised me, by understanding that peace calls for patience and that peace calls for understanding and not for impositions.
Ehud Barak, defense minister: Hillary was flying so much and popping up in all corners of the world almost simultaneously that we launched an investigation through our intelligence community, they found that actually there are two Hillarys. ... [She is] extremely effective in the world arena, extremely effective with world leaders, and I feel also highly effective with the American public.