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Many Clinton Foundation donors oppose BDS– and so does Clinton

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The news that several donors to the Clinton Foundation gained VIP access to Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State has raised the question of what these donors got for their money beyond facetime. And one way in which Clinton has evidently been responsive is the Israel issue. Several Foundation donors are strong supporters of Israel and opponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS). As a presidential candidate, Clinton has been a one-woman campaigner against BDS. She has issued several denunciations of that human rights campaign over the last year, and she injected anti-BDS language into the Democratic Party platform.

Of course, Clinton has long supported Israel, before and after her State Department stint, and she has long had pro-Israel donors. But the anti-BDS list of Foundation donors suggests the new lineaments of the Israel lobby in the age of Clinton, as a right-center-liberal lobby. The State Department under John Kerry has actually made a specific point of not opposing boycott of Israeli settlements.

News articles list several donors who care about Israel who got access to Clinton as secretary. They include Haim and Cheryl Saban, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, Slimfast founder S. Daniel Abraham, and Hollywood executive Casey Wasserman.Hollywood producer Jeff Skoll,

The Sabans donated between $10 and 25 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the Associated Press. Saban has said his one issue is Israel. He has also funded a campaign against BDS, as Julia Carmel and Max Blumenthal reported:

Seated beside [Sheldon] Adelson on stage at the casino baron’s Las Vegas anti-BDS conference, Saban openly panicked about BDS, warning of “an anti-Semitic tsunami coming at us.”

Saban called for an initiative to punish corporations that refused to work inside Israel or the territories it occupies through military force: “Any company that chooses to boycott business in Israel is going to look at this case, and once we’re done they’re going to think twice whether they want to take on Israel or not,” Saban declared. “Trust me, this is just the beginning.”

Saban has since directed his giving to the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton wrote to him a year ago to assure him that she would work with Republicans to fight BDS:

“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority.”

S. Daniel Abraham is another major Foundation giver who has Israel as a top concern. According to the rightwing watchdog Judicial Watch that released the emails, Abraham
was granted almost immediate access to then-Secretary of State Clinton, with [Huma] Abedin serving as the facilitator. According to the Clinton Foundation website, Abraham, like the Wasserman Foundation, has given between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Then-Secretary Clinton gave a speech dedicating Abraham’s Center for Middle East Peace in 2010. In that speech she extolled Abraham’s “devotion to Israel and in his commitment to Israel’s future and Israel’s security,” repeatedly criticized Palestinians, and praised Israel for its wall saying “the number of suicide bombings – thankfully – has dropped significantly.”
The president of the Abraham Center is former congressman Robert Wexler, who helped to quash the references to “occupation” and “settlements” in the Democratic Party platform this year and get in a plank opposing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Wexler:
BDS may hope that pressuring Israel will lead to peace, the truth is that outside forces will not resolve the I P conflict, particularly when anti-semitism is rising throughtout the world, Democrats must condemn efforts to isolate and delegitimze Israel. Delegitimization must stop immediately.

Casey Wasserman, whose foundation gave between $5 and $10 million, is also a strong supporter of Israel. He surely opposes BDS; he co-signed a letter to Hollywood bigs last year with Haim Saban, urging them to support Clinton because she’s behind Israel. Variety:

“She will be an excellent leader for the United States and for our International standing,” they write.  “She is and always has been a strong leader and true friend when it comes to the U.S. and Israeli relationship. Trust me we know!”

Teachers union exec Randi Weingarten was another major donor who got access, according to the AP.
Under Weingarten, the AFT donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged partnership commitments with other interests in four separate Clinton Global Initiative programs. Weingarten had two private meetings with Clinton in 2009 and 2012 and also joined her at a photo shoot in 2010.
Weingarten led Clinton forces in the platform fight and has taken a strong stance against BDS. Electronic Intifada:
Her attack on BDS – the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions – and her attempt to associate it with “violence” and “terrorism,” echoes her earlier condemnation of the American Studies Association for endorsing the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli institutions complicit in occupation and human rights violations.

Weingarten is not just an ardent Zionist, but a militant one:

For our ancestors, if we had said: There will be a Jewish state—for the 6 million who died in the Shoah, there is now a homeland where more than 6 million Jews live—they would have said, “Dayenu.” [That is enough] A state with a powerful military. Dayenu. A vigorous economy. Dayenu. A proud democracy. Dayenu.

And yet none of those things alone—the economy, the military, the democracy—is enough to secure that future. Unless we act.

Benjamin Ringel is a developer and Foundation supporter who the New York Post says sought access from then-Secretary Clinton for a far-rightwing Israeli leader:

On June 16, 2009, Ben Ringel wrote to Abedin, “I’m on shuttle w Avigdor Liberman. I called u back yesterday. I want to stop by to see hrc tonite for 10 mins.” Ringel donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

It is not clear from the emails whether Ringel got immediate access. The shopping-center developer is surely opposed to BDS. He has had financial difficulties in recent years and in one court case his creditors alleged that he “would potentially flee the country for Israel, where lenders claim he has been spending more time recently.”

Finally, here are two liberal Zionists who gave to the Clinton Foundation and would likely oppose BDS, though there’s no direct evidence on that score. Jeff Skoll, is a pro-peace Jew who has taken part in initiatives to bridge gaps between Israel and Palestine with economic development, women’s empowerment, bridge-building, etc. Jewish Journal:

Skoll has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations such as Common Ground that are working toward better understanding and peace in the Middle East.

Jill and Ken Iscol gave 500,000 to 1 million to the Clinton Foundation, and their friend the entrepreneur Jacqueline Novogratz got an appointment from Clinton, according to the new emails. The Iscols are donors to the liberal Zionist New Israel Fund, which opposes BDS. Jill Iscol wrote that her late father on Long Island, who was pro-Israel, was a model for her as a philanthropist:

My father gave back mainly in an active commitment to Jewish causes, especially those which strengthened and secured Israel. But his generous spirit reached beyond the temple doors.
Clinton’s vehement support for Israel obviously echoes many of these Foundation givers’ feelings. And her recent religious fervor against BDS echoes several of these donors’ attitudes.
What is remarkable about this group is that there is no clear line between liberal Zionism and centrist or rightwing Zionism. Clinton has resolved that tension; and this collection may reflect the future-face of the lobby in a Democratic administration, as a force in which there is no real difference between J Street’s activism and AIPAC’s. This is one reason why so many liberal Zionists are desperate for President Obama to do something once the election has taken place in November– as Debra DeLee of Peace Now prayed during an Arab-American Institute event in Philadelphia last month. Liberal Zionists sense that under a President Clinton, the White House will be hardline pro-Israel.




Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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26 Responses

  1. silamcuz on August 27, 2016, 2:50 pm


    It’s not fair that you consistently fail to mention that while there many Zionist donors of the Clinton Foundation, there are also pro-BDS heavyweights that also donate to it.

    Why won’t you acknowledge such an important fact? I don’t get it.

    Qatar is a pro-BDS government that is currently the richest country in the world, possibly richer than all Zionist Clinton supporters combined. They have been reported as donating to the foundation and also have organized meetings with Hillary on undisclosed issues.

    • Mooser on August 27, 2016, 4:45 pm

      “They have been reported as donating to the foundation and also have organized meetings with Hillary on undisclosed issues.”

      Now, there’s a recommendation, if I ever heard one.

  2. ckg on August 27, 2016, 10:31 pm

    @silamcuz “there are also pro-BDS heavyweights that also donate to it.”

    such as??

    • silamcuz on August 27, 2016, 11:52 pm

      Qatar. [..]

      • Citizen on August 28, 2016, 8:40 am

        There’s a big US military base in tiny, filthy rich Qatar. There’s no US military base in parasite Israel.

      • Mooser on August 28, 2016, 11:18 am

        ” [..]”

        I agree, enthusiastically!

      • ckg on August 28, 2016, 1:14 pm


        I have no words either.

      • Mooser on August 28, 2016, 1:41 pm

        “I have no words either.”

        I had mine taken right out of my mouth, but I don’t mind. Not at all.

      • RoHa on August 28, 2016, 6:43 pm

        You were being kissed, Mooser?

  3. Raphael on August 28, 2016, 10:31 am

    It seems to me that Clinton is a lobbyist politician; she will take money from oil prince war BDS organizers too anti-BDS supporters… it is called triangulation politics. She is completely inaccessible to the common man; she will be the Arab leaders political best friend, ever in the history of the conflict.

    That is why I cannot vote for her or Trump. With her in office Iran will then build the Nuclear bomb, I predict; possibly within months. According to DEBKA… Iran can build the nuclear bomb in a few months.

    If your Pro-BDS, which I am not, you should vote for Clinton. Once in office, and Iran gets the Nuclear bomb she or her staff won’t even take calls from AIPAC.

    Bill Clinton probably thinks Israel is a corporate welfare state.

    • Kay24 on August 28, 2016, 11:27 am

      She is apparently not going to invite President Rouhani:

      I will do everything I can to enhance our strategic partnership and strengthen America’s security commitment to Israel, ensuring that it always has the qualitative military edge to defend itself. That includes immediately dispatching a delegation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to meet with senior Israeli commanders. I would also invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House in my first month in office. – See more at:

      She will do Netanyahu’s bidding as per Haim Saban’s instruction, so zionists around the world can relax.

      • inbound39 on August 29, 2016, 4:59 am

        Thoroughly agree Kay24 but all this talk about shutting down BDS is going to be very costly for Saban and Clinton et al to put into action. Kay Griggs has opened another can of worms for the Zionists too with her allegations and proof of Zionist meddling in US Government policies. BDS though means targeting individuals of which there are thousands. BDS is not one entity it is a gathering of efforts of many many individuals requiring court action for every individuals which means it will stretch government efforts too the max and run into billions which they cannot possibly sustain. It will be interesting to watch because its not the only problem they have.

    • amigo on August 28, 2016, 2:39 pm

      ” she will be the Arab leaders political best friend, ever in the history of the conflict.”Raphael.

      As long as they are not Muslims.

      • Raphael on August 28, 2016, 3:20 pm

        The New York Times
        By AMY CHOZICK and STEVE EDERAUG. 20, 2016

        For years the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation thrived largely on the generosity of foreign donors and individuals who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to the global charity. But now, as Mrs. Clinton seeks the White House, the funding of the sprawling philanthropy has become an Achilles’ heel for her campaign and, if she is victorious, potentially her administration as well.

        The kingdom of Saudi Arabia donated more than $10 million. Through a foundation, so did the son-in-law of a former Ukrainian president whose government was widely criticized for corruption and the murder of journalists. A Lebanese-Nigerian developer with vast business interests contributed as much as $5 million.

      • Mooser on August 28, 2016, 7:37 pm

        “Raphael”, if you want to play on an NFL level, you’ve got to learn to do more than just fake to the left and run to the right.

    • eljay on August 30, 2016, 9:10 am

      || Raphael: … With [Clinton] in office Iran will then build the Nuclear bomb, I predict; possibly within months. … ||

      Makes sense. It would totally justify her (manipulated?) desire to massacre Iranians.

  4. RoHa on August 28, 2016, 11:32 am

    Iran has been a few months away from building a nuclear bomb for the last twenty years or so. Somehow, they haven’t got around to it yet. I don’t know whether this is because they are inefficient, or because they are signatories to the Non-proliferation treaty.

    Here is a nice bit on Iran.

    • strangefriend on August 28, 2016, 7:27 pm

      Plus they’ll have to get the current Ayatollah to reverse his ruling that nuclear wapons are unIslamic.

    • inbound39 on August 29, 2016, 5:13 am

      That article is very interesting RoHa because it talks of a British imposed famine on Iran in 1917-1919 due to war effort. Britain caused famine in Scotland and Ireland around the same time for the same reason and in Scotland it resembled images of the Warsaw Ghetto in places like Motherwell which were hardest hit and bodies of children and adults that had starved to death lay where they dropped on the streets. Despicable. Not many people know that thousands were forced to leave their land and homes in Scotland and flee to America and Canada, NZ and Australia simply to survive and the English Aristocracy took the land they left.

  5. on August 29, 2016, 11:14 am

    I’m surprised Phil and Mondoweiss even bother to ask the question of whether there is a quid pro quo from the Clintons and most other U.S. politicians in return for pretty much monolithic Zionist, Israel Lobby-type support. It’s been well documented for years, including during the Clinton presidency, the Bush II presidency, the Obama presidency, Hillary Clinton’s reign as Secretary of State and the Hillary Clinton-dictated Democratic Party Platform, pushing for even more support for Israel and hinting at conflict, even war, with Iran and Russia.

    The factual evidence here includes Mearsheimer and Walt’s “Israel Lobby” book, Alison Weir’s “Against our Better Judgment” book, and the work of the Washington Report on Middle East Affair’s for many years, including its March 2016 conference “Israel’s Influence: Good or Bad for America” at which Phil was a speaker and many Mondoweiss posts.

    Hope that Obama will somehow take belated steps to blunt the growing tide of American and Israel Lobby support for Israel, right or wrong? Don’t make me laugh. Obama is and always has been a hand-picked puppet, groomed and supported by the Pritzgers and other Zionists, starting with his stint as an Illinois State Senator, in return for pro-Israel support as a politician. Neocon Zionists were big in Bush’s years and some carried over to Obama. Zionists were big during the Clinton years and have carried over to Obama. They now salivate at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton regime feeding their insatiable hunger. Obama jeopardize his golden parachute. I don’t think so.

    We need a new language to replace outdated terms like so-called liberal Zionism and right-wing Zionism as distinct “isms”. BDS support or non-support may separate them, but it’s a fairly minor issue on the spectrum of Israel, Palestine, Middle East issues.

    Phil correctly hints at a blurring of the lines between liberal Zionism and right-wing Zionism, but at their core, they are both part of the pretty much seamless and faceless oligarchic corporate elite who run this country for their own special interests, foisting neoliberalism and globalism on the increasing impoverished masses of Americans. They argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but it’s mostly show to deceive the populace, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

    See Chris Hedges book, “Wages of Rebellion, The Moral Imperative of Revolt” (2015).

    • annie on August 29, 2016, 12:06 pm

      I’m surprised Phil and Mondoweiss even bother to ask the question of whether there is a quid pro quo from the Clintons

      i’d be surprised too david, had phil asked that question — but alas, he didn’t. the article was about:

      raised the question of what these donors got for their money beyond facetime.

      what they got is a different topic than whether they got, especially in an article that elaborates — what they’ve gotten!

      • on August 29, 2016, 3:17 pm

        Thank you for pointing out my error, Annie, and I stand corrected.

        However, although Phil elaborates “what” donors got in terms of access, we understandably don’t know “what” was discussed and “what” favors were promised by Clinton, although it will probably be exposed, at least in general, if Clinton is elected — appointments, spending, initiatives, policies, pardons, decisions not to prosecute and so forth — whether by her administration or the Clinton Foundation.

    • Lillian Rosengarten on August 29, 2016, 1:44 pm

      Zionism is what we oppose. It is not a religion but a neo colonial racist nationalistic ideology . Liberal or Conservative Zionism is meaningless. It is a false attempt by Zionist Israel to minimize the distinction between Zionism with Judaism for the purpose of Judaization of Israel and the elimination of Palestine.

      • inbound39 on August 30, 2016, 5:42 am

        Yes Lillian…..Zionism will happily don the mantle of anything in order to get the job done even religion. Hence it garners support from Evangelicals to Right Wing Christians to Judaism….it perverts anything it can to use as a tool. Kinda like an all purpose infection….one size fits all!:)

  6. silamcuz on August 30, 2016, 2:11 am

    What has Hillary done to actively thwart the BDS movement, apart from a few speeches to appease her Zionist backers?

  7. hellsbells on August 30, 2016, 8:19 am

    What bullshit is this?

    “If your Pro-BDS, which I am not, you should vote for Clinton. Once in office, and Iran gets the Nuclear bomb she or her staff won’t even take calls from AIPAC. ”

    1. What do you want in place of the BDS? More abuse of Palestinians until the end of time?

    2. Why should Israel be the #1 issue on an American mind. Clearly climate change and CO2 reduction should be everyone’s first and most important issue and Trump is in bed with the Koch Bros. the boys behind the misinformation KKK.

    3. Iran’s nuclear weapons… at best they can manage a couple of basic nukes. Iran is under intense supervision. Israel has 200+ nukes of various sizes and has actually threatened the world with Armageddon if they don’t get their way.

    The only question we should be asking here is how many of these paranoid bullshit artists are members of the Israeli social media team and how many are Zionist idiots that think the world is going to continue to allow Israel to get away with abuse and genocide?

    Smoke and mirrors; paranoia and distraction! It doesn’t require any peace agreement or anything from the Palestinians to stop Israel from abusing Palestinians in the West Bank. How were so many brats bred in Israel in the last 67 years!

    What it takes is a whole lot of bullshit to keep the daily crimes of oppression in Palestine out of the media while the genocide continues. Oh antisemitism this, holocaust that, Iran’s getting nukes…

    At every level Israel is a nation of totally obnoxious spoiled brats! That’s what we are dealing with and what can change tomorrow without any external influence forces. If it doesn’t change then the BDS is going to kick Israel into bankruptcy and no one who supports human rights is going to shed a tear!

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