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Clinton to drop Israel from ‘public’ speeches, put it back in ‘with donors’ — email

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I’ve been on the road for days, and a few more Clinton emails have thudded down from the Wikileaks heavens revealing deliberations about Israel inside the Clinton braintrust. Some day we will put together a leatherbound edition with morocco covers of Clinton’s Israel emails, but for now we’re just trying to chase the latest.

And these three are stunners because they baldly expose the importance of Israel to donors and the party establishment.

First, there was this amazing email thread among top strategists from May 2015 about revising Clinton’s talking points in her speeches at rallies and fundraisers in the weeks before she officially launched her candidacy. You just gotta read these comments as they fall. The conversation started out on a bunch of different talking points, but everyone quickly turned to Israel, and the public and private messaging.

Jake Sullivan, foreign policy aide: “Would add a sentence on standing up for our allies and our values, including Israel and other fellow democracies, and confronting terrorists and dictators with strength and cunning.”

Mandy Grunwald, media advisor: “I thought this was largely for her TP [talking points] with public events not fundraisers. Do we need Israel etc for that?”

Sullivan: “We def need the etc. I think good to have Israel too.”

Joel Benenson, pollster and chief strategist: “Why would we call out Israel in public events now? The only voters elevating FP at all are Republican primary voters.”

Robby Mook, campaign manager: “I’m w Joel. We shouldn’t have Israel at public events. Especially dem activists.”

Sullivan: “I won’t fall on sword over Israel but we need more than climate in that paragraph.”

Dan Schwerin, speechwriter: “What about this as a base, and then she can drop in Israel when she’s with donors:

“Fourth and finally, we have to protect our country from the global threats that we see, from terrorists to dictators to diseases – and the ones that are still over the horizon. We have to assert confident American leadership to shape global events rather than be shaped by them. That includes taking on global warming and those who continue to deny that it exists. And it means always standing up for our allies and our values, especially our fellow democracies.”

Mook: “I’m fine with that.”

Benenson: “Good.”

That’s a smoking gun email. It says just what Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List and J.J. Goldberg said at J Street earlier this year, the role of Jewish donors on the Democratic side is “gigantic” and “shocking.” And those Jewish donors are seen as pro-Israel all the time, by folks who study politics.

But meantime, Robby Mook says just what we’ve been saying here for a couple of years: the lobby has lost the Democratic base on Israel. Young Dems, people of color, women — they’re more sympathetic to Palestinians than Israelis. Don’t mention Israel with dem activists.

So the system really is rigged. They don’t want to hear from the people on this.

One other thing: Chief strategist Benenson shows how pathetic the Bernie Sanders campaign was on this issue. He says that the only voters who care about foreign policy are Republicans. It would be a year before Bernie made Israel a wedge issue, in the New York primary debate, when he dared to say that Benjamin Netanyahu is not right all the time, and Clinton had no response. That moment was brave, reluctant, and spasmodic. Had Bernie worked the Israel issue, there was political capital to be made. And everyone in the Clinton braintrust knew it. Don’t mention Israel with dem activists. Bernie followed the same script, pretty much.

Gotta keep going here. Here’s another leaked email to campaign chair John Podesta from his daughter Megan Rouse in May 2015, headlined “Israel”:

I’ve heard a concern from some folks who care deeply about Israel that Hillary will be the president “most unfriendly to Israel in our history, worse than Obama.” Thoughts on how I might respond in conversation?

Podesta wrote back:

That’s a bit crazy. Obama developed a real feud with Bibi, but she has been a staunch defender of Israel since her Senate days. Probably her very best supporters are Haim Saban, and Danny Abraham who would not be with her if she wasn’t totally committed to Israeli security.

Eli Clifton offers the moral of this story:

“Podesta’s acknowledgement that two of Hillary Clinton’s key donors condition their support on her support of Israel’s security is a striking moment of candor from Podesta, but a statement which is consistent with her previous actions to placate the concerns of her biggest financial backers.”

This is also fantastic. When “Bibi” — no one calls him Benjamin Netanyahu in Dem circles– won reelection in the Israeli elections in March 2015, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta asked Paul Begala for his take on Netanyahu’s victory. Wow is Begala a whiz. He worked for Yitzhak Herzog, who lost; and he wrote back in part:

Just as patterns of immigration are moving the US left, patterns of immigration are moving Israel right. I have never seen anything like Bibi’s furious surge to the right in the last 4 days. Nothing like it in America. He had robo-calls calling the President “Hussein Obama, the Muslim,” he had ads saying the Arabs will vote in droves. He accused Herzog of wanting to divide Jerusalem. Bibi did not win because of Iran. He won because of race. He cannibalized the smaller parties on the right: Bennett’s Jewish Home lost 4 seats, Shas lost 4 seats, Lieberman’s party lost 5 seats, United Torah lost 1. That is a 14 seat decline on the right. Bibi gained 10…

All the smart guys in Tel Aviv thought Bibi was having a nervous breakdown. In the US you could never get away with those kind of racist appeals. But, man, did it work.

There’s really only one thing to say about this email. Begala is on television all the time slashing Donald Trump. Has he ever told American audiences that Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist in a way that no American politician could be? Not even Trump? And Israel is a place of creeping fascism (as Moshe Ya’alon and Yair Golan have explained)? Begala doesn’t say that because of emails 1 and 2 in this post; “Bibi” is necessary for the maintenance of the American establishment as it now stands.

And President Clinton has promised: “I would also invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House in my first month in office.” Another leaked email says that Clinton says reaching out to Netanyahu, I mean Bibi, is “near the top” of her list of priorities. I wonder why.

Thanks to Adam Horowitz.

Philip Weiss

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

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21 Responses

  1. YoniFalic on October 21, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Seriousness in getting Zionist corruption out of US elections means demanding that Israel be declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity. It is after all terrorist entity.

    Once so designated the US government can start arresting Zionists and shutting down Zionist organizations. All their assets can be seized and could then be used for public election funding.

    In one fell swoop progressives can take aim at Israel and fix US elections.

    • JWalters on October 21, 2016, 5:49 pm

      Great line of thinking! Imagine a 4am FBI sweep of Israeli agents in America, who are plotting to send more Americans to die in another expensive war, looting America’s economy in the process. What a great morning news story!

      • hophmi on October 24, 2016, 12:28 pm

        You guys speak like the anti-Semitic neo-Nazis that you are. You’re interested in seeing Jews die.

      • Mooser on October 24, 2016, 1:39 pm

        “You guys speak like the anti-Semitic neo-Nazis that you are. You’re interested in seeing Jews die.”

        Ahh, “Hophmi”, that was helpful!

      • amigo on October 24, 2016, 1:50 pm

        “You’re interested in seeing Jews die.”Hopknee.

        You mentioned Jews , hoppy. No one else did.

        So we are clear , from my perspective , if zionist land thieving illegal squatters get neutralised in the commission of their crimes then so be it.Each one culled will represent one less obstacle on the road to the end of Zionism and the creation of a state that exists for the benefit of all it,s citizens and not just for a select few of a certain religion.It,s time to mow the zionist lawn , so to speak.

      • Keith on October 24, 2016, 5:02 pm

        HOPHMI- “You guys speak like the anti-Semitic neo-Nazis that you are.”

        Neo-Nazis? Like Svoboda and Pravy Sektor? Don’t those guys work for Victoria Nuland?

    • Keith on October 24, 2016, 4:57 pm

      YONI FALIC- “Once so designated the US government can start arresting Zionists and shutting down Zionist organizations.”

      The US government is going to shut itself down and go to jail? Hey, is this going to effect my social security benefit?

  2. Mooser on October 21, 2016, 4:21 pm

    “People or entities are designated as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT)s” under Executive Order 13224 by the United States Department of State or the US Department of the Treasury.”

  3. pabelmont on October 21, 2016, 5:21 pm

    If political spending & contributions were forbidden to non-people and as to people over a modest annual maximum, these big givers would be powerless. There would of course be pro-Israel PACs, funded by smallish donations (recall Sanders). The dynamic would change.

    America needs political spending reform for so, so many reasons, and Israel is one of them, sure.

  4. echinococcus on October 21, 2016, 5:21 pm

    Where’s Trump when one needs him?

  5. peacenotapartheid on October 21, 2016, 10:12 pm

    It’s hard to see how I/P gets resolved without the problem of money in politics first getting resolved in the U.S.

  6. Kay24 on October 22, 2016, 8:08 am

    Interesting article. It gives great insight to exactly what is going on in the Clinton campaign. I have noticed since of late she does not mention that “I” word, refer to it, nor mention that we should protect our “only” ally in the ME. Sometimes when she does, you know it comes out of context to her speech, and is only mouthing it to please her financial backers – the rich zionists in American clothing. Many of those “Dem activists” are turned off with Clinton’s devotion to an alien nation that had it not been so interfering in our political system by their lobbies, would have been sanctioned by now for a brutal occupation and human rights abuses.

    The simple reason that I fear Bibi will get the red carpet treatment in the WH, and that she will take this sick relationship to the “next level”, makes me NOT want to vote for this woman. I guess we have to be resigned to the fact that no American President will have the spine to hold the occupier accountable for its crimes, stop protecting it from world condemnation, stop the aid and weapons flowing, and demand it stop the occupation, in our lifetime.

  7. CigarGod on October 22, 2016, 9:42 am

    Good work.

  8. Kathleen on October 22, 2016, 11:18 am

    “All the smart guys in Tel Aviv thought Bibi was having a nervous breakdown. In the US you could never get away with those kind of racist appeals. But, man, did it work.”

    BB clearly understands the fundamentals of racism and that he can get away with expressing what is really going on. Racism in action…he gets it that Israel has and can get away with it.

    That Hillary will support no matter what.

    MSNBC host, CNN host not mentioning Wikileaks at all. Silence

    On Friday night Fox News Megyn Kelly lets those not reporting about Wikileaks drops off the hook by saying “they are so complicated” and the MSM likes easy reporting. Odd

  9. HarryLaw on October 22, 2016, 4:09 pm

    Clinton has a lot of worrying to do when trump brings felony charges against her…
    “Thanks to videos released by Project Veritas, we now have concrete proof that it was Hillary Clinton that paid operatives to storm Trump rallies and incite violence.

    Hillary Clinton did not just pay mercenaries to assault Trump supporters, she also violated the law on several occasions.

    Robert Creamer, a Clinton crony, was one of the organizers of the paid violence and has also visited Obama at the White House at least 230 times. He was forced to resign from his position immediately following the release of these videos.”

    • inbound39 on October 24, 2016, 6:13 am

      Odd that nothing appears on other news sites about this Harry though I don’t doubt Clinton would engage in tactics like described. She is shrewd and artful and slipperier than silicone.

  10. Elizabeth Block on October 22, 2016, 10:56 pm

    I find it interesting that Clinton’s advisors think she should shut up about Israel except when dealing with people she knows to be Zionists. That means they think the public at large has lost its previous knee-jerk support for Israel, including the Jewish public at large. That’s got to be a good thing.

  11. hophmi on October 24, 2016, 12:32 pm

    Your gloating is unbecoming, Phil. Dem activists aren’t the majority of the parties. Like GOP “activists,” who are in the tank for Trump, Dem activists are just as likely to be ill-informed, shrill, and incapable of reaching independents.

    And Robby Mook, who has run a poor campaign in which it took him until October to place distance between Clinton and the worst GOP candidate in modern history, is wrong here. Most Democrats are pro-Israel, including those who oppose the occupation.

    • echinococcus on October 24, 2016, 2:18 pm

      Most Democrats are pro-Israel, including those who oppose the occupation.

      Second time in my life I have to agree with a Hophmi. So are their colleagues on the other wing of the single party.

      We very, very urgently need “If Americans Knew” to go full blast. Yesterday! All donations there.

      • hophmi on October 24, 2016, 6:07 pm

        Yes, by all means, please make the neo-Nazi org If Americans Knew Nonsense go full blast.

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