Leaked emails show donors drive Hillary Clinton’s pro-Israel positions
Rania Khalek, Electronic Intifada, Oct 13 2016
A batch of internal Clinton campaign emails published by Wikileaks in recent days reveals the extent to which campaign donors drive Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric and policy positions on Israel and the broader Middle East. Last year, Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to Haim Saban on her campaign stationery vowing “to make countering BDS a priority” if she wins the presidency. Saban has donated at least $7m to getting Clinton elected president and openly confesses that his #1 priority is influencing Pindosi policy in Israel’s favor. According to the emails between Clinton’s senior campaign aides, the letter to Saban was deliberately leaked to friendly media to attract pro-Israel donors concerned about the rise of the BDS movement. The way the campaign aides discuss the issue is completely devoid of emotion or ideology. It’s all about the donors. In a Jul 3 2015 email to campaign staffers, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook wrote:
I was just thinking: has she made a clear statement on Israel yet? I get this question from donors all the time. Does she need to state her principles on Israel before Iran? Or do both at the same time?
Clinton speechwriter Dan Schwerin said:
That’s basically the goal of the BDS letter.
Deputy communications director Christina Reynolds replied:
We could either get a donor to leak it or just give it to a reporter if we want to get it out there. I’m semi-surprised it’s not out yet.
Clinton’s voice is nowhere to be seen in the correspondence. Jake Sullivan, a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, wrote:
We have a two pager I’m getting clearance from her on. That is what we have to ship around.
Let’s def give it to someone. I see zero downside to a story. Then we can circulate around right away (hopefully) in advance of Iran.
Christina Reynolds responded:
If Haim’s going to give it to the Jewish media, I think that solves our problem. Once they write, we can make sure it gets picked up by some of our beat guys.
Three days later, Politico reported on and published the letter. The emails show Saban coordinating directly with the Clinton campaign, offering positive reinforcement for Clinton’s pro-Israel messaging and strategizing with Clinton aides against BDS. The emails show that Stuart Eizenstat, a former ambassador to the EU under Clinton (42), acted as a liaison between the Israeli government and the Clinton (44) campaign, counseling senior staffers on how to adjust their messaging to the liking of the Israeli leadership. Eizenstat wrote lengthy and detailed emails to campaign aides summarizing his meetings with Israeli government officials and recommending talking points for Clinton to adopt. The Clinton (44) campaign frequently thanked Eizenstat for his counsel, regularly implemented his suggestions and often sought his approval on speeches related to Israel. Foreign policy adviser Sullivan wrote in a Jul 2015 email to Eizenstat:
I took some of your concepts but left out the specifics.
Sullivan was seeking pointers for Clinton’s statement in response to the passage of the Iran nuclear deal. A month earlier, Sullivan messaged Eizenstat for advice on BDS:
I was talking to HRC today about the idea of having her meet with some Jewish leaders later this week about BDS/ delegitimization efforts. She and the leaders could go out and make a statement following the meeting.
Sullivan sought Eizenstat’s opinion on who Clinton should include in such an initiative. In Dec 2015, Eizenstat wrote:
(I had a) meeting with a senior boxtop who is very close to the Prime Minister, and knows his thinking. The prime minister always had ‘a surprising good relationship’ with Hillary. She is ‘easy to work with’ and she is more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House. (The boxtop said) Israel Arabs are a ‘real problem.’ The government had to dismantle the northern branch of the Islamic Association because they were radicalizing the Israeli Arabs, who are 20% of the population.
Eizenstat was referring to Israel’s ban on the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, a political party with a large following among Palestinian citizens of Israel. Eizenstat’s emails also reflect the Israeli leadership’s intense hostility toward Obama. In a May 2015 email to the Clinton campaign, Eizenstat noted that in his meeting with the Israelis:
The level of vitriol against the president was striking, to such a degree that one participant urged that he was being unfairly demonized.
In Jun 2015, Eizenstat wrote:
I was struck in my week in Israel, not only among Israeli officials, but among my friends across the political spectrum (most are former officials) and apolitical relatives, at the depth of antipathy and distrust of Pres Obama as ‘weak,’ ‘pro-Muslim’ and ‘anti-Israel.’
In another Jun 2015 email, Eizenstat provides details of a meeting with Netanyahu and his cabinet in which Netanyahu urges attacking BDS and recruiting Latinos, Evangelical Christians and Asian Americans to assist in the effort. Summarizing Netanyahu’s views, Eizenstat wrote:
On BDS, Israel should move from the defense to the offense. It should be attacked on moral grounds. It is ‘unjust’ and ‘cruel.’ Israel must attack its attackers. The best defense is a good offense: ‘attack, attack, attack.’
In an Aug 2015 email labeled “NOT FOR CIRCULATION,” Eizenstat passed along advice to Hillary Clinton from Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador in Washington. A Pindostan-born right-winger who has been called “Bibi’s brain,” Dermer told Eizenstat that the Israeli government was plotting to smear Palestine solidarity activism on college campuses as terrorism. Eizenstat wrote:
They will shortly expose the funding base for the main BDS group on campus, Students for Justice in Palestine, which tie it with terrorist funding. The key is to expose BDS as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.
During the Democrat Party primary race, Bernie Sanders repeatedly called on Clinton to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street banks, but she refused. One of the most damning aspects of the latest Wikileaks dump is the excerpts of Clinton’s paid speeches. In a speech to Goldman Sachs in 2013, Clinton confessed that a no-fly zone in Syria would “kill a lot of Syrians.” This is because it would require bombing Syria’s air defenses, “many of which are located in populated areas,” according to Clinton. While making this assessment in private, Clinton has continued to publicly advocate for a no-fly zone, ostensibly to protect Syrian civilians. Clinton told the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago at a luncheon in 2013 that Israel and Jordan were working in close partnership for the purpose of “shoring up King Abdullah.” That same year she told congregants at a synagogue:
One of the developments of the Arab Spring is that you now have Israel and the Toads more closely aligned in their foreign policy.
Publicly, Clinton frequently casts Iran as the single greatest funder of terrorism in the world. But privately she has repeatedly acknowledged the Toads’ contribution to violent extremism. At a Jewish United Fund dinner in 2013, Clinton said she preferred “a more robust, covert action” to arm Syrian rebels against Assad. But she added:
This is complicated because the Toads and others are shipping large amounts of weapons, and pretty indiscriminately, not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate.
She also described the fierce opposition of the Toads to the MBs as “kind of ironic, since the Toads have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.” In one of the leaked emails Clinton accuses Toads & Thanis of funding Daesh. Citing “Western intelligence, Pindosi intelligence and sources in the region,” Clinton wrote:
We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the Toads & Thanis, who are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
The Clinton Foundation has accepted millions of dollars from the Toads & Thanis. And while serving as Sec State, Clinton greenlighted enormous weapons deals to those countries. From Israel to the Toads, it is clear that Clinton’s donors are in charge. They exert more influence over her public positions and policy prescriptions than she does. If Clinton were running against Cruz or Rubio, these emails would be scandalous. Instead, the leaks have been completely overshadowed by the even more sensational and lurid October surprise that befell Donald Trump. Clinton is lucky her opponent is more disliked and disingenuous than she is.