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Clinton on 2005 Palestinian elections: ‘If we were going to push for elections, we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win’

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton displayed a brazen contempt for Palestinian democracy in a 2006 meeting with Jewish journalists in Brooklyn, according to a new report. She also warned of the rise of “Islamo-fascism” as a “global threat that needs a global response.”

According to the Observer, Clinton told the editors of the Jewish Press: “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake,” said Clinton, then a New York Senator running for re-election and shmoozing with the editors of the Press. “And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.”

Hamas won those elections in the Palestinian parliament, touching off several years of internecine conflict between the Islamist party and its secular, nationalist rival, Fatah. Hamas has nominal control over Gaza, and Fatah runs security in Palestinian cities, but both political groups are still at the mercy of Israel vastly superior firepower. 

The revelation comes after Wikileaks and DC Leaks published a trove of private emails between Democratic party operatives, including excerpts from Clinton speeches to Wall Street and the health care industry that show Clinton holding public positions at odds with her words in private, especially when speaking to donors. Here, Clinton’s statements defy this year’s “most progressive ever” Democratic party platform, which the party plans to pursue policies that provide “the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

The new report is a symphony of concern trolling published by The Observer, a paper owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who doesn’t see an ethical problem shilling for his father-in-law’s campaign against other ethnic and religious minorities. As a sock puppet for Trump, the Observer doesn’t care about Palestinian rights, but jumped at the chance to put Clinton and “rigged” in a headline, as Trump plays coy on whether he will accept the results of November’s election as he claims it’s “rigged” in favor of the former Secretary of State. 

But the audio tape, which sat unplayed for ten years in the offices of the Jewish Press, reveals how Clinton conceives of Palestinian democracy: a threat to Israel. Meanwhile, however, Israelis can elect whomever they want to the Knesset, even people who aren’t shy about saying they want to exterminate Palestinians. Clinton doesn’t talk about the threat Israeli elections pose to Palestinians. 

Another part of the tape provides a clue as to why Clinton felt that Palestinian popular sovereignty was “a mistake.”

“I think you can make the case that whether you call it ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Islamo-fascism,’ whatever the label is we’re going to give to this phenomenon, it’s a threat. It’s a global threat. To Europe, to Israel, to the United States…Therefore we need a global response. It’s a global threat and it needs a global response. That can be the, sort of, statement of principle…So I think sometimes having the global vision is a help as long as you realize that underneath that global vision there’s a lot of variety and differentiation that has to go on,” she said, according to The Observer.

Eli Chomsky, then an editor of the Jewish Press, told the Observer he was shocked, shocked!, to hear Clinton talk of meddling with a foreign ballot, flummoxed that “anyone could support the idea—offered by a national political leader, no less—that the U.S. should be in the business of fixing foreign elections.”

But Andrew Kadi, chair of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said Clinton’s words and attitude towards the Palestinians didn’t shock him.

“I can’t say I’m surprised. I believe the U.S. has a history of interfering in who leads other sovereign nations, for example supporting dictatorships and juntas in Central and South America.  Ultimately, this is part and parcel of a foreign policy of continued rejection of popular sentiment on the ground in various parts of the Middle East and elsewhere,” Kadi said.

“But the U.S. definitely punished Palestinians for their democratic decision by encouraging the Israeli escalation of a siege and blockade on the Gaza Strip, and growing Egypt’s role in helping to maintain it,” he said. “I don’t think Hillary Clinton has any interest in Palestinian self-determination beyond the bantustans given to the Palestinian Authority.”

Kadi added that the whole discussion ignores how little consequence Palestinian elections have anyway, when the government that controls Palestinian daily life is Israel, an occupying military force ruling over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and, through siege, in Gaza.

‘These elections are held for extremely limited powers within the tiniest sliver of historic Palestine,” he said. “Ultimately, many of the most critical functions –  land and maritime access, registration of IDs or ‘citizenship’ (the Palestinian Authority ‘hawiyyeh’), etc – are in the hands of the occupier, the Israeli state.”

Wilson Dizard

Wilson Dizard is a freelance reporter and photojournalist covering politics, civil rights, drug policy and everything else. He lives in Brooklyn with his bicycle, camera and drum set.

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11 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on November 1, 2016, 2:04 am

    RE: Clinton on 2005 Palestinian elections: ‘If we were going to push for elections, we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win’

    MY COMMENT: As a matter of fact, “we” did do something. Elliott Abrams saw to it that in the weeks leading up to the election about $2,000,000 in USAID money was spent in support of Fatah and/or in opposition to Hamas. Alas, it was a day late and a dollar short (at a minimum).

    • JLewisDickerson on November 2, 2016, 6:55 am

      P.S. . . . EXCERPTS: . . . Four days before the election, Scott Wilson and Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post reported that the United States was actively interfering in the Palestinian election.

      RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Bush administration is spending foreign aid money to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the governing party faces a serious challenge from the radical Islamic group Hamas.

      The approximately $2 million program is being led by a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development. But no U.S. government logos appear with the projects or events being undertaken as part of the campaign, which bears no evidence of U.S. involvement and does not fall within the definitions of traditional development work.

      U.S. officials say their low profile is meant to ensure that the Palestinian Authority receives public credit for a collection of small, popular projects and events to be unveiled before Palestinians select their first parliament in a decade.

      In this instance, USAID was doing the traditional work of the Central Intelligence Agency (meddling in foreign elections), and the work was coordinated by “a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer who worked in postwar Afghanistan on democracy-building projects.” The episode was another example of how traditional intelligence operations drifted away from the CIA and towards the Pentagon during Bush’s second term. In any case, the USAID program didn’t work, and may have backfired, as Hamas won a plurality of the vote and a majority of the seats. The Bush administration immediately began plotting to reverse the result of the elections. For a complete recounting of the Bush administration’s efforts, please see David Rose’s exposé in the April issue of Vanity Fair . . . SOURCE –

    • JLewisDickerson on November 6, 2016, 3:14 am

      “U.S. Funds Enter Fray In Palestinian Elections”
      Bush Administration Uses USAID as Invisible Conduit
      By Scott Wilson and Glenn Kessler
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Sunday, January 22, 2006

      [EXCERPTS] RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Bush administration is spending foreign aid money to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the governing party faces a serious challenge from the radical Islamic group Hamas.

      The approximately $2 million program is being led by a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development. But no U.S. government logos appear with the projects or events being undertaken as part of the campaign . . .

      . . . The plan’s $2 million budget, although a tiny fraction of USAID’s work here, is likely more than what any Palestinian party will have spent by election day. A media consultant for Hamas said the organization would likely spend less than $1 million on its campaign.

      Elements of the U.S.-funded program include a street-cleaning campaign, distributing free food and water to Palestinians at border crossings, donating computers to community centers and sponsoring a national youth soccer tournament. U.S. officials are coordinating the program through Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah.

      In recent days, Arabic-language papers have been filled with U.S.-funded advertisements announcing the events in the name of the Palestinian Authority, which the public closely identifies with Fatah. Some of the events, such as a U.S.-financed tree-planting ceremony here in Ramallah that Abbas attended last week, have resembled Fatah rallies, with participants wearing the trademark black-and-white kaffiyehs emblazoned with the party logo, walls plastered with Fatah candidates’ posters, and banks of TV cameras invited to record the event.

      “Public outreach is integrated into the design of each project to highlight the role of the P.A. in meeting citizens needs,” said a progress report distributed this month to USAID and State Department officials. “The plan is to have events running every day of the coming week, beginning 13 January, such that there is a constant stream of announcements and public outreach about positive happenings all over Palestinian areas in the critical week before the elections.”

      • ‘Window of Opportunity’
      The program highlights the central challenge facing the Bush administration as it promotes democracy in the Middle East. Free elections in the Arab world, where most countries have been run for years by unelected autocracies or unchallenged parties like Fatah, often result in strong showings by radical Islamic movements opposed to the policies of the United States and to its chief regional ally, Israel.
      But in attempting to manage the results, the administration risks undermining the democratic goals it is promoting.

      U.S. officials and consultants involved in the program acknowledge that it generated debate inside the aid agency and the two firms hired to manage the project. But U.S. officials said the goal of limiting Hamas’s influence in the next Palestinian government overshadowed concerns about the decision not to disclose the U.S. government’s role in the campaign.

      “We are not favoring any particular party,” said James A. Bever, the USAID mission director for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “But we do not support parties that are on the terrorism list. We are here to support the democratic process.”

      Another U.S. official involved in the program said: “I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

      “We weren’t trying to be some black-box SWAT operation,” said the official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak for the record. “But we want to be able to say we did everything we could to support peaceful coexistence here. There’s no tomorrow if we end up with a worsening conflict” after the elections.

      Hamas is reaping the benefits of years of grass-roots social work and political organizing in the West Bank and Gaza as it prepares for its first national election. It opposes Israel’s right to exist and has vowed to maintain its armed wing, which has carried out attacks and suicide bombings inside Israel and the territories.

      The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, is suffering from a reputation for corruption, divisions within Fatah and a continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank that has made Abbas’s pursuit of a negotiated peace settlement unappealing to many Palestinians. Public opinion polls have shown the race tightening in recent weeks, with Hamas now running even with Fatah.

      According to interviews with U.S. and Palestinian officials here and in Washington as well as project documents obtained by The Washington Post, the plan to help promote the Palestinian Authority, and by extension Fatah, began emerging as Israel ended its 38-year occupation of Gaza in August.

      “In light of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, a critical window of opportunity has emerged,” stated an October document outlining the scope of the Gaza Action Plan Support Unit, as the program is known. The document, prepared by ARD, a consulting firm based in Burlington, Vt., that was hired to manage the project, said the goal was to “help lay the foundation for successful, moderate leadership in Gaza as well as the West Bank.” It listed the Palestinian Authority as its “direct beneficiary.”

      Most U.S. development assistance here, which last year totaled roughly $400 million, consists of water pipelines, sewage treatment plants, public libraries and roads, which bear the USAID logo alongside the seal of the Palestinian Authority. But Bever said the agency, which previously wanted to showcase U.S. aid, recently decided to emphasize the Palestinian Authority’s role to a greater degree after polls showed a majority of Palestinians are aware of the overall extent of U.S. assistance.

      • Downplaying U.S. Credit
      The project is supervised by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, which specializes in promoting U.S. interests during times of political change in foreign countries and has the ability to spend money faster than other departments, according to agency officials.

      The office hired ARD, which in turn subcontracted the project to a Washington-based firm, Strategic Assessments Initiative, or SAI, known for its largely academic work on issues such as Palestinian security reform. SAI had no experience in development work and had never worked for USAID.

      Amjad Atallah, the company’s president, said he was not authorized to talk about the project, though he said it raised concerns within his organization. Atallah said he agreed to work on the contract only after USAID agreed to his requests that Palestinian teams work in the field and that the program be coordinated through the office of President Abbas, who is not a candidate in the election.

      USAID also brought in an independent consultant, Larry Sampler, to “help us think about how to do this,” the U.S. official involved in the program said. Sampler was described by people who know him as an earnest, intense man who served 15 years in the Army Special Forces and worked as a U.S. contractor in Afghanistan.

      According to documents from a planning presentation Sampler gave to U.S. officials in Washington and Tel Aviv in October, he raised several questions about how closely the U.S. government should be identified with the project. The documents also suggest that U.S. officials expected the project to become involved in party politics.

      “To whom should credit accrue?” Sampler asked in one slide of the presentation. “Issues of branding and how closely associated candidates and parties want to be or should be associated with the USG [U.S. government]. What should be the nature of that relationship?”

      Plans called for roughly 40 small projects or events, ranging in cost from $5,000 to $50,000 each, that would benefit the Palestinian Authority. No USAID logos would be used.

      Asked if the decision not to use the USAID brand was a way to hide its involvement, Bever said, “I could see it could look that way.” He said some of the projects might bear the agency logo, although it was not apparent on those visited by reporters from The Post or in ads published this week.

      “We wanted to give maximum credit to the Palestinian Authority and to the freely elected president, Mahmoud Abbas, for taking the initiative and for inviting us to help get the message out to the Palestinian people,” Bever said. . .


  2. RoHa on November 1, 2016, 2:26 am

    I too am shocked,shocked!, to hear any suggestion that the U.S. would ever interfere with the internal affairs of another country.

    I am absolutely certain it has never happened, and never will.

    (Note to God: Do you really have to be fair to Ananias?)

  3. Citizen on November 1, 2016, 2:32 am

    She doesn’t care about anybody unless she needs them for her agenda, which is more money and power for her. Trump’s right about her and her rigging ways. She will make America into Venezuela, as Newt said today.

  4. smithgp on November 1, 2016, 8:40 am

    PLC election was in January 2006, not in 2005.

  5. hophmi on November 1, 2016, 8:41 am

    Lol. No one should have to choose between corrupt autocrats and fascist theocrats, but that’s the Arab world right now, West Bank not excluded.

    • Misterioso on November 1, 2016, 10:52 am

      Speaking of “corrupt autocrats and fascist theocrats…”

      For the record:

      In June 2007, Hamas retained control of the Gaza Strip by carrying out a preventative counter-coup or counter-putsch against a U.S. orchestrated attempt by Fatah, known as the Dayton Plan, to take control by military means. In an article published in Vanity Fair, investigative journalist Peter Rose reveals the details: “Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by [President G.W.] Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by [Fatah’s Mohammed] Dahlan and armed with new weapons at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.) But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S. backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.” (Peter Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April 2008)

    • Mooser on November 1, 2016, 4:15 pm

      “No one should have to choose between corrupt autocrats and fascist theocrats”

      Thank God that conflict never arises in Israel!,

  6. eljay on November 1, 2016, 9:02 am

    … “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake,” said Clinton …

    Yup, you can’t have freedom and democracy threatening Jewish supremcism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

    … “And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.” …

    The will of the people in nations around the world must adhere to Washington’s guidelines. – That’s the very definition of freedom and democracy.

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