Obama hired Clinton as sec’y of state by reaching out to Israel supporter Hoenlein — NYT

US Politics
on 16 Comments

Remember all that “Team of Rivals” stuff when Obama became president and named Hillary Clinton as secretary of state? According to a big piece in the New York Times this Sunday, that’s horse feathers from the mythology department. Obama named Hillary Clinton to appease the Israel lobby on foreign policy; and the Israel lobby actually cut the deal.

Once elected, Obama seemed to understand that he needed someone to lend him credibility with the Israeli government and its American defenders, a tough friend of Israel who could muscle the country away from settlements and toward a peace agreement. An aide to Obama called Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, and asked him to call Hillary Clinton to see if she would be “agreeable” to being named secretary of state.

Why didn’t the Times tell us about Israel’s absolute priority in the State Department portfolio before this?

The piece is titled frankly, “Can Liberal Zionists Count on Hillary Clinton?” and writer Jason Horowitz is naked about his (provincial) point-of-view: Peace Now Jews who are attached to their dream of the Jewish state, if it would only redeem itself by withdrawing from the occupation, folks who were “racked with worry” when Israel killed all those children in Gaza last summer. AIPAC is the bad guy in the piece; J Street rides a white horse. Tzipi Livni is great (nothing about her support for Gaza massacres), Netanyahu is bad.

Hillary Clinton once served Obama’s J Street agenda but has distanced herself from that now, preparing to run for president:

As Israel flouted her own government’s demand that it not build more settlements in East Jerusalem, Clinton spoke so effusively about Netanyahu at a December 2012 conference that political observers considered the speech tantamount to a presidential announcement. Since then, Clinton has further distanced herself from her job as secretary of state, making light of her role as Netanyahu’s disciplinarian for Obama and calling herself the president’s “designated yeller.”

That’s the best thing about the piece, the acknowledgment of the lobby’s power to make or break presidential ambitions. More honesty:

Clinton has shown little inclination to risk political damage by reprising her old role as a friend and a critic of Israel.

The other bugaboo for the liberal Zionists in the piece is Jewish Voice for Peace and lurking Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, BDS. The non-Zionist organization JVP is taken more seriously than ever before by the Times–Rebecca Vilkomerson gets two or three paragraphs– before being dismissed as a non-mainstream player by Ann Lewis, Hillary’s Israel hack.

Bringing the Debate to YouNear the end of the piece Horowitz admits that the liberal Zionist dream may be over, the two-state solution is a thing of the past, and Hillary will not stand up to Israel. He three times mentions “donors” and is precise about the lobby’s rightwing power, even inside the Democratic Party. And yes it’s about wealth:

“Democrats who are Jewish will turn out in droves in support of her,” Haim Saban, a media mogul and major Clinton-campaign financier told me. And the Jewish donors? “Without a doubt.”

But Clinton knows that there is a wealthy and influential sliver of more-moderate Democratic Jews for whom Israel is a priority. They are less conservative than the G.O.P.’s top Jewish donors, like Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner, but feel protective enough of Israel that they could plausibly support a Republican if they sensed anything less than complete support from a Democrat. The political arithmetic for Clinton is easy — knowing you can take the larger liberal Jewish vote for granted, you support Israel’s right-wing government to keep moderates from bolting.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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16 Responses

  1. Boomer
    December 18, 2014, 2:57 pm

    Thanks for pointing this out. As you say, it is good to have it openly–albeit belatedly– acknowledged.

    • Krauss
      December 25, 2014, 12:19 pm

      Do love how Horowitz portrays those who are not unwilling to accept deviance of support from a right-wing government as “moderates”.

      I do believe Jason himself believes this. He is delusional. These people are neither liberal nor moderate.

  2. Annie Robbins
    December 18, 2014, 3:28 pm

    Democrats who are Jewish will turn out in droves in support of he…..Without a doubt.”…But Clinton knows that there is a wealthy and influential sliver of more-moderate Democratic Jews for whom Israel is a priority.

    money money money money. but what about the other voters. jewish voters make up a tiny portion of the electorate. what if american voters don’t want another president beholden to israel?

    somethings gotta break at some point. it doesn’t all come down to what conservative or liberal jews think. the jewish group closest to the leftwing of american electorate is jvp. and the left wing of the dem party is the grassroots, the ones who pound the pavement. i don’t know if they’ll come out in droves for hillary like they did for obama in the final showdown if she makes the primaries. there’s that to think about. and i will just stay home unless paul makes it to the finals, or some other candidate who doesn’t bend over backwards for israel.

    • lysias
      December 18, 2014, 3:40 pm

      I voted for Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party in 2012.

  3. RoHa
    December 18, 2014, 6:00 pm

    It is time for the US to catch up with Indonesia and Pakistan and Bangladesh and Iceland and Turkey and Britain and Ireland and Australia and Liberia and …


    But not Hilary just for the sake of entering the twentieth century.

  4. Rusty Pipes
    December 18, 2014, 6:31 pm

    You’re right here, Phil:

    That’s the best thing about the piece, the acknowledgment of the lobby’s power to make or break presidential ambitions. More honesty:

    Clinton has shown little inclination to risk political damage by reprising her old role as a friend and a critic of Israel.

    The rest of the piece (including his recounting of Hillary’s getting tapped as SOS) are so shaded by the author’s bias and poetic license that one shouldn’t rely on it for specific facts.

  5. Tuyzentfloot
    December 19, 2014, 4:15 am
    • Annie Robbins
      December 19, 2014, 10:53 am

      tuyz, mysteriously for some reason sometimes some of the links are very hard to see. i went up and checked and i couldn’t see the link either but i knew i had linked to it yesterday! so i went to add it and when i saw the embed on the draftpage i bolded the front of it so it would show up. it is embedded into the second sentence “a big piece in the New York Times this Sunday,”. i just bolded “a big piece”. but thatnk you for linking and pointing that out.

  6. hophmi
    December 19, 2014, 8:27 am

    You’ll believe anything anywhere as long as it fits your agenda. Do you really think Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State just because Malcolm Hoenlein have her a call. Are you really that naive?

    • Peter in SF
      December 20, 2014, 5:28 am

      hophmi, you are misunderstanding the point of this post. This isn’t Phil saying, “Hey, did you know that Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State just because Malcolm Hoenlein gave her a call? It’s right here in the NYT, so it must be true.” No, the point is that the NYT is saying this.

      Now tell us, hophmi, what do you think it says about the NYT that it is printing something that is false, and fits Mondoweiss’ agenda? We have seen that you are not afraid to call out antisemitism when you see it; is this an example in the NYT?

  7. CigarGod
    December 19, 2014, 8:58 am

    Piqued my interest:

    “Conference of presidents of major american jewish organizations”

    Who and how many, etc?
    Always concerned about inordinate influence.
    Would love to see the big data on this.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 19, 2014, 10:22 am

      i don’t think there is big data on this cigargod unless it is the big data we are supposed to infer from their title. as cecilie surasky pointed out in her great article

      The Jewish community here in the Bay Area is stunningly rich and diverse. We disagree about politics, we disagree about God, and we disagree most passionately of all about Israel.

      You could say our difference and diversity is our very essence. Which is why we don’t and will never have one spokesperson for the Jews of the Bay Area.

      Suffice it to say, our members, and we have thousands of people on our mailing list just in the Bay Area, were shocked to see a statement from the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the local offices of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, announcing that the “Bay Area Jewish Community” condemned these ads because they used the phrase Israeli apartheid.

      None of these organizations have the right to claim to represent the Jews of the Bay Area. In fact, the Jewish Community Relations Council will not publicly release its list of members, we can only assume, because the number of groups they can claim to represent is so small. We know that none of the most vibrant and fastest growing progressive Jewish groups in the Bay Area are part of the JCRC. Neither are many synagogues we know.

      – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/conjuring-community-apartheid#sthash.pdPJ3rmF.dpuf

      • CigarGod
        December 19, 2014, 10:39 am

        Thanks, annie. I admit i was spooked a bit. Thanks for the great link, too. I feel much better now.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 19, 2014, 3:34 pm

        yeah, there’s this hankering of jewish establishment types to claim that establishment types speak for all jews as if jews all run in a pack. so much bs. and they all elected netanyahu as their king! another example of this is this story http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/jewish-center-staging , a small group of influential loudmouths and the JCC, run by a few power hungry types takes down a beloved successful threatre manager. and because their name has ‘the jewish community’ in it people think they represent the jewish community on everything, they do not.

  8. eGuard
    December 19, 2014, 1:02 pm

    take the larger liberal Jewish vote for granted says the last quote. But of course, that “vote” (whatever part of the 2% Jewish votes in total) is neglectable, even in swing states.

    The correct explanation is in the same quote: wealthy and influential […] Jews.

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