Draft of Clinton letter called BDS ‘odious,’ ‘unconscionable’ attack on ‘legitimacy of Zionism’

US Politics
on 15 Comments

An email released today by Wikileaks reveals the strong pressure of the Israel lobby inside the Hillary Clinton campaign. A draft of Clinton’s famous letter opposing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel makes what was actually sent out look almost sweet by comparison. The draft called the BDS movement “odious” and “unconscionable” and an attack on “the legitimacy of Zionism.”

That June 25, 2015 draft also included fulsome praise of Jews:

Jews have led the way on human rights and civil rights, always raising the bar. It is wrong to ignore this tradition and use the tools that were applied to apartheid to undermine the legitimacy of Zionism.

The draft was worked on by Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy aide, along with the campaign’s ambassador to the organized Jewish community, Washington lawyer Stu Eizenstat, former deputy treasury secretary under Bill Clinton.

The draft stated that Israel shares US “fundamental values and interests”:

This campaign against Israel, a nation that shares our fundamental values and interests, is unfair and unconscionable.

Clinton’s letter to Haim Saban, dated July 2, 2015 left out “odious” and “unfair and unconsionable,” the shared “fundamental values and interests,” as well as the praise for Jews and the salute to the “legitimacy of Zionism.”

In fact, the letter seems toned down by comparison to its predecessor. The strongest emotional expression was “alarm:” “I am writing to express my alarm over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.” Even the word “appalled” in the draft became “concerned”– about efforts to compare Israel to South Africa.

The email shows the in-house pressure on the Clinton campaign to go even further than it did in pandering to the organized Jewish community. Eizenstat talked about Clinton having a big meeting with Jewish leaders over BDS, including many rightwingers and Republicans, maybe even Sheldon Adelson!

But both men expressed the fear that such a meeting would get out of control. They then resolved to send out a letter to 30-plus members of the organized Jewish community. In the end it was sent to just one of them, Saban.

Jake Sullivan

Jake Sullivan

Sullivan:

“HRC is now thinking that she can send a letter to a broader group — like all the names you’ve offered and then a few more — RATHER than hold a meeting. She is now worried about how to manage a meeting given competing perspectives and the like.”

Eizenstat:

I like the idea, since a meeting has to be inclusive, yet this might make it unmanageable, divisive (J Street vs. AIPAC), and lengthy, as everyone will have to be heard.

In that email, too, you will find Eizenstat’s suggested list of recipients. All the heavy hitters of the Israel lobby, including many rightwingers. Eizenstat even notioned inviting Adelson. Though Eizenstat redlined the idealistic young Jews of the Open Hillel movement, calling it “controversial” and siding with the head of Hillel International, Eric Fingerhut. Excerpts:

Eric Fingerhut, President of Hillel (he has had to handle the controversial “Open Hillel” movement on some California campuses and a J Street confrontation).
Jeremy Ben-Ami (J Street)(I do not think he should be excluded)
Mort Zuckerman
Ronald Lauder (President of World Jewish Congress)(former US Ambassador to Austria, and a Republican, but must be invited given his position).
Lynn Schusterman, Oklahoma (large funder of Hillel and many other Jewish causes).
Haim Saban (recently teamed with Sheldon Adelson to form anti-BDS group of wealthy donors, but already caused some controversy by excluding left-leaning groups. I do not see how Adelson can be invited because he is such a strident GOP-supporter and would be a potentially disruptive force in a meeting. But you could check with Saban).
Professor Deborah Lipstadt (Emory University).
Dov Zakheim (former senior DOD official in Bush Administration; thoughtful and wise)…

Clinton sent out her letter against BDS as a means of countering her eventual support for the Iran deal inside the Jewish community, as earlier emails disclosed.

Oh, and here is another email showing the pressure of the lobby inside the campaign. Last January, megadonor Haim Saban pushed findings to the Clinton camp that Clinton could change campus perceptions of BDS by speaking out about her anti-BDS letter. Saban wrote to the head of Jewish outreach for the campaign, Sarah Bard:

Sarah we should Talk about how to capitalize on this.I have some ideas and would appreciate your thoughts when we talk next.

Saban attached a note from an employee, Amitai Raziel, titled “HRC’s Anti-BDS Letter / Impact on Campus.”

Hi All – I thought you might find this of interest: the Israel on Campus Coalition held a recent call regarding polling that they conducted this past semester. I’ll send a fuller sum later, but there was one statistic that I think you would appreciate:

* Once informed about Hillary Clinton’s letter opposing BDS, the favorable/unfavorable views held by students regarding pro-BDS arguments shifted 11 points in the right direction.

Just a reflection that she remains a trusted source to students on these issues, and I’m glad to see she is out there conveying this viewpoint.

Sarah Bard wrote back to Saban within the hour:

Haim Thank you for sharing. I look forward to discussing and strategizing on this with you. Alex and I are in touch to schedule tomorrow. Again, thank you. Sarah

Cause that’s how you treat a big donor!

The Democratic Party Platform duly contained opposition to BDS.

 

About Philip Weiss

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

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15 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    October 27, 2016, 3:57 pm

    that list is amazing. and this from Eizenstat:

    You should double check with Malcolm to get any additional names or to suggest deleting any of the ones on my list.

    so, malcolm is head gatekeeper — according to Eizenstat.

    • oneangrycomic
      October 28, 2016, 9:46 am

      “You should double check with Malcolm to get any additional names or to suggest deleting any of the ones on my list.”
      Looks like correspondence between McCarthy and Cohn!

      Although the slanderous attacks on SJP by Horowitz and his ZioThugs are disturbing, I’m counting on their desperation and spurious claims to do more harm than good to their cause. I would think that the majority of students can see through his thinly veiled lies or at least be intrigued enough to find out the truth.

      Remember, the greatest weapon against vile creatures like Horowitz is the TRUTH!!

    • YoniFalic
      October 29, 2016, 11:14 am

      The Jewish lobby organizations have a division of labor.

      COPOMOJO (Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations) operates at the executive level while

      AIPAC operates at the legislative level.

  2. amigo
    October 27, 2016, 4:33 pm

    Now this is odious!!.

    “Top Five Clinton Donors Are Jewish, Campaign Tally Shows

    Haim Saban, George Soros and others stand at the head of a list of wealthy donors who contributed mainly via super PACs.

    A tally of the fundraising for the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton president shows that the top five donors are Jewish.

    The Washington Post analysis, posted October 24, named the top donors, who are contributing $1 of every $17 of the over $1 billion amassed for the Democratic nominee’s presidential run.

    They are Donald Sussman, a hedge fund manager; J.B. Pritzker, a venture capitalist, and his wife, M.K.; Haim Saban, the Israeli-American entertainment mogul, and his wife, Cheryl; George Soros, another hedge funder and a major backer of liberal causes, and Daniel Abraham, a backer of liberal pro-Israel causes and the founder of SlimFast. ”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/u-s-election-2016/1.749443

    No Paywall.

  3. JWalters
    October 27, 2016, 7:13 pm

    Saban is overlooking the fact that Hillary could be dropped like a poison potato when people realize she is a puppet of predatory war profiteers. This is why Hillary is so disliked on the left. This awareness of facts is only going to spread. Many people, including Saban, will wind up with sh*t on their faces. Saban’s deeply cynical attempt to deceive people through his Hillary puppet is what is “odious” and “unconscionable”.

  4. RoHa
    October 28, 2016, 2:09 am

    “Jews have led the way on human rights and civil rights, always raising the bar.”

    I keep hearing this. Is actually true, not just for the US, but for the world?

  5. inbound39
    October 28, 2016, 5:18 am

    Zionism was specifically launched to deprive another people of their land by force. At that point Zionism ceased to hold any legitimacy due to it amounting to nothing more than an organised group of terrorists.

  6. eljay
    October 28, 2016, 10:49 am

    … The draft called the BDS movement “odious” and “unconscionable” and an attack on “the legitimacy of Zionism.” …

    Zionism is supremacism and, as such, it is illegitimate. The fact that it happens to be religion-based supremacism that favours people who choose to be Jewish doesn’t make it any more legitimate (or any less unjust and immoral).

  7. Elizabeth Block
    October 28, 2016, 12:07 pm

    I am less alarmed by what was drafted than I am encouraged by what was actually sent. There’s pressure from the Zionist lobby, but people are beginning to see their way to resisting it. They know the wind has shifted, and they are shifting too.

  8. Les
    October 28, 2016, 4:52 pm

    Portland University Passes pro-BDS Measure

    Near-unanimous vote draws links between black and indigenous civil rights activism and pro-Palestinian efforts.

    JTA Oct 27, 2016 12:53 PM

    Portland State University’s student senate passed a resolution on Monday urging divestment from companies that “profit from human rights violations” by Israel against Palestinians.

    The resolution passed with 22 votes in favor, two against and one abstention, according to the meeting notes, the conservative news and opinion site The College Fix reported. The measure draws links between black and indigenous civil rights activism and pro-Palestinian efforts.

    The resolution, authored by student senator Phoenix Singer and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, calls on the university to divest from companies harming Palestinians by working with the Israeli military. It also alleges that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land since its establishment in 1948.

    The text mentions several companies by name, including Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett Packard and Motorola, all of which it says “profit from human rights violations against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government.”

    It also calls on the university “to put in place an internal investment screen which prohibits investment in any company that provides weapons or equipment used” to harm Israeli or Palestinian civilians, conduct Palestinian home demolitions, build or maintain settlements or the Israeli West Bank security fence.

    In a statement released in June, Portland State President Wim Wiewel called the resolution “divisive and ill-informed.” Since the university’s funds are managed by the Oregon state treasurer together with other public university funds, the resolution in itself “has no practical effect,” Wiewel wrote.

    The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs condemned the resolution in a statement that noted the vote took place on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

    “[T]he claim that Israel’s mere existence is an ‘occupation’ makes it clear that the purpose of this resolution is to promote bigotry, not justice or human rights,” said StandWithUs Pacific Northwest coordinator Noa Raman.

    http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/americas/1.749478

    • Annie Robbins
      October 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

      “[T]he claim that Israel’s mere existence is an ‘occupation’ makes it clear that the purpose of this resolution is to promote bigotry

      did the resolution claim Israel’s mere existence was an occupation? because if it didn’t this is a strawman argument.

  9. Kathleen
    October 29, 2016, 11:59 am

    “Sullivan:

    “HRC is now thinking that she can send a letter to a broader group — like all the names you’ve offered and then a few more — RATHER than hold a meeting. She is now worried about how to manage a meeting given competing perspectives and the like.”

    Sad to think that this is movement, however it is, “competing perspectives” Huge

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