‘Attack, attack, attack’ — Leaked emails show panicked Netanyahu rallying Clinton and US Jews against BDS

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These are amazing. Wikileaks published 2000 emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta; and they show Stu Eizenstat, former deputy secretary of treasury under Bill Clinton, acting as the ambassador for Israel and the Jewish community to Clinton.

And everything Clinton has said on Israel and Palestine and the boycott movement in the last year, from saying she’d meet with Netanyahu in her first month in office, to opposing BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), to taking the Israel relationship to the “next level,” Eizenstat appears to have scripted. For instance:

Bibi should be invited for early talks on how the partnership with Israel can be strengthened…

Eizenstat reflects true panic from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the BDS campaign. Describing a meeting of himself and Dennis Ross with Netanyahu in June 2015, Eizenstat offered trusted Clinton aide Jake Sullivan Netanyahu’s assessment of BDS:

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”. Changing policy won’t help, but “it may be useful for other reasons” (I found this an interesting qualification)

He said that there are several lines of defense: (1) The Jewish community itself, where unity is necessary and “all Jews” should be included…  He said there is a “lot of energy” in the anti-BDS movement now.

Eizenstat agrees that the American Jewish community must stick together and support Netanyahu against BDS, but it might not happen, because American Jews are tearing themselves apart on Israel.

I also stressed that Diaspora unity was essential, but that now the Jewish community was tearing itself apart on Israel issues, and those on the liberal/left side, who are pro-Israel and anti-BDS are being shunted aside. I said that even Ben-Gurion and Begin put aside their differences at a critical time in the 1948 War, No less is needed now.

Ross and Eizenstat tell Netanyahu that Israel has to help out on the BDS front, by changing policy. So BDS is working! Nothing else is.

[One recommendation] which I made explicitly, and with Dennis did as well, was that the Cabinet had to recognize that its settlement policy and policy toward the Palestinians was used as a recruiting tool for the BDS leaders. While the leaders want nothing less than the end of the Jewish State, many of those on campuses, EU officials, and European public opinion could be swayed away from BDS if they saw Israel taking affirmative steps toward a two state process in word and deed.

Later Eizenstat presses Sullivan to produce that Hillary Clinton letter opposing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, BDS.

I assume the BDS letter is still being drafted?

That letter came out a month or so later, addressed to megadonor Haim Saban, and vowing to work with Republicans to oppose BDS.

In this December 2015 email, Eizenstat conveys Benjamin Netanyahu’s views to Hillary Clinton’s braintrust that President Obama is too hard on us, and we hope your administration will stop talking about Palestinians, and the Palestinians inside Israel are a problem too.

The Prime Minister always had a “surprising good relationship” with Hillary; she is “easy to work with”, and that she is more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House…

Don’t talk about Palestinians:

He [Netanyahu] attended part of the Saban Forum and felt that most of the emphasis was on the Palestinian issue, and wonders if a Clinton Administration “will be a Saban Forum for four years”, due to “the people around her, but not her”. Her own speech was “95% good, although there was some moral equivalence language.”

And you wonder why she cut the occupation and settlements out of the Democratic platform. And the man who complained that Arab voters were coming out in “droves” in the election a few months before doesn’t really go in for democracy:

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.

And by the way, the two-state solution isn’t going to happen on Netanyahu’s watch. So when Hillary Clinton says she’s taking the relationship with Netanyahu to the “next level,” she ought to stop talking about a Palestinian state.

While the Prime Minister favors a two state solution, neither a majority of the Likud Party nor Bennett’s party does. Indeed, a two state solution has never been in the government guidelines in any Likud-led government.

In a May 2015 email, in the days of the Iran Deal, Eizenstat pushes Clinton through Sullivan to accommodate Israeli and American Jewish fears:

she needs to understand the great angst in the Jewish community over the cascade of challenges I have described. The empathy and appreciation she can demonstrate, would itself be important and reassuring.

Again in that May 2015 email, Eizenstat writes to Sullivan about a discussion at the Jewish People Policy Institute, a Jerusalem-based advocacy group headed by Eizenstat and Dennis Ross, about American foreign policy. The U.S. should never put any pressure on Israel:

There was a grave concern that the Obama Administration, once the Iran nuclear negotiations are out of the way, will support some form of the French proposal for a new UN Resolution to supplant UN Resolution 242, endorsing the two-state solution, with 1967 borders, and with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state. Several people felt that given the impasse in the peace process, Israel’s argument that this should be left to negotiations, had a hollow ring to it. If this is going to happen, then it should be framed in ways that force the Palestinians to make tough choices, like ending claims to the “right of return”. But the safest political position is to oppose what will be seen as an effort to “impose” a solution both sides will reject.

The decline of Democratic Party support for Israel is a “dangerous” situation, but Jews are driving the change; some rabbis are afraid to bring up Israel in synagogue:

There are increasingly sharp left-right divisions (J Street vs. AIPAC) within the American Jewish community over Israel. Remarkably, rabbis are reluctant to discuss Israel in their sermons for fear of alienating one faction or another.

In this email, to Sullivan in March 2015, Eizenstat says that he is very close to the state of Israel, has been there 50 times, his grandparents are buried there, and then he scripts Clinton on what she ought to say to distance herself from President Obama’s unhappy relationship with Netanyahu so as to maintain Jewish support–

This obviously places Hillary in an extremely difficult position, caught between the President she served and the organized parts of the Jewish community

What did he recommend? Calm the waters, stress America’s undying support for Israel, oppose BDS. Everything she ended up doing over the last year.

First, she should stress the need to “lower the temperature level” of rhetoric on all sides….

she should stress the enduring commitment of the United States to Israel’s security interests, not only direct military threats, but attacks against Israel in the form of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, on campuses in the U.S. and Europe…

Third, and critically, she should express a strong feeling that Israel MUST remain a bipartisan issue, as it has been since its formation. She should sharply criticize those in the U.S. and in Israel who are injecting Israel into a partisan context.

Eizenstat offers himself as the channel to the Israel lobby:

I have sent you separately, at your request, Jewish leaders to whom she should reach out. She needs to make a statement sooner rather than later, as things are spiraling out of control.

It would seem that it was Eizenstat who got Hillary Clinton not only to craft a letter against BDS, but to vow to invite Netanyahu to the White House first thing as president. A June 2015 email:

Hillary cannot oppose the [Iran] agreement given her position as the President’s Secretary of State and should urge its approval by Congress under Corker-Cardin. But she can and should point out concerns with it… More broadly, she should appear more muscular [in] her approach than the President’s…

But she should also say the following:

…Bibi should be invited for early talks on how the partnership with Israel can be strengthened to combat Iran and Israel’s other avowed enemies.

Thanks to Alex Kane, who was on this first. As he tweeted:

Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer promised to “expose” how SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] is tied to “terrorist funding”

Here’s that email. More panic about BDS from Dermer via Eizenstat. SJP are terrorists, and J Street is anti-Israel.

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…

He agrees there should be a “big tent” to combat BDS of all pro-Israel, anti-BDS groups. But he distinguishes between liberal groups like Peace Now, which he supports, and JStreet, which he does not. The reason, he said, is that although they are officially anti-BDS, they actively lobby against Israeli positions supported by a democratically elected government in Israel, and are constantly critical of Israel, rather than the Palestinians. By lobbying Congress and the Administration against Israeli positions they are “denying Israel’s right to self-determination.” They are lobbying to change what the popularly elected government of Israel supports. …

The key is to expose BDS as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. There is no other country where there is a BDS campaign to change their policy. Israel is being held to a double standard….

About Philip Weiss

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

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