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Why was the Clinton campaign obsessed with fighting BDS?

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During the presidential campaign, we ran a lot of posts based on Wikileaks releases from the Clinton campaign that touched on Israel; but Wikileaks saved one of the best for last, the day after the election: an email from Stu Eizenstat, an ambassador to the Jewish community, to Clinton’s foreign policy wunderkind Jake Sullivan scrutinizing activism in favor of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) at Princeton– or as Eizenstat put it, “a case study of BDS at Princeton.”

It is highly discouraging to read this email, because it shows the Clinton campaign looking into BDS activism as some type of sinister force when it could have been spending its energy on better things. And not to do too much fingerpointing, but Palestinian solidarity should have been included in Democratic Party activities. But at every turn the Clintonites shut it down, and all to get the backing of big pro-Israel donors.

This battle is bound to continue inside the Democratic Party in the shambles of the election– especially as Jewish activists organize to try to block Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to lead the party. Scott Roth puts his finger on the issue for the party:

This last email out of Wikileaks is creepy. It was written at a time when the Clinton campaign was strategizing on a Clinton letter against BDS addressed to megadonor Haim Saban, as a means of balancing her support for the Iran deal in the eyes of big donors; that letter would go public two weeks later, with the urging of Stu Eizenstat. In the meantime, Eizenstat relates a conversation that he had with the liberal Zionist Dan Kurtzer, a former ambassador to Israel and now S. Daniel Abraham Professor at Princeton (Abraham is a pro-Israel Clinton donor) in which Kurtzer described recent divestment activities, some of which he approved, and then anatomized the BDS movement: or, how a “normally sleepy campus has gotten engaged through the BDS controversy.”

Stuart Eizenstat, on German television in 2013

Stuart Eizenstat, on German television in 2013

Kurtzer told Eizenstat, per Eizenstat:

The BDS movement is an umbrella group that consists of different strands, with different motives.

(1) Some people who are simply anti-Semetic. This is a small percentage.

(2) Some are viscerally anti-Israel.

(3) Palestinians who use BDS as a cover for their unwillingness to accept Israel.

(4) A “lot” of students who are not anti-Israel, but oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank

Kurtzer also commented darkly on PCP, the Princeton Committee on Palestine: “Dan did not know if they are funded from abroad.” PCP is a typical pro-Palestinian campus org. Why is the Clinton campaign getting its knickers in a twist over a group that advertises itself: “PCP members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, nations, and religions, but are united by a desire to see justice in Palestine.”

Kurtzer goes on to say that the outside effort to oppose BDS, including by Hillary Clinton’s good friend Haim Saban working with her arch-enemy Sheldon Adelson, won’t work on campus.

The Adelson-Saban effort will not be effective and will be resented as “outside” money by students.

Eizenstat then passed on Kurtzer’s observations of the conflict, including a “Plan B” of managed conflict that we are hearing a lot of these days from the likes of Dennis Ross, another American Zionist:

There is a “Plan B” if the peace process continues to flounder. It consists of the following: (1) A long-term ceasefire in Gaza…. (4) More freedom of movement and fewer checkpoints. (5) Build new homes only in tightly defined current settlement blocs.

Philip Weiss

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35 Responses

  1. pabelmont on November 18, 2016, 12:28 pm

    These guys really annoy me. Kurzer is quoted about who supports BDS: “Some people who are simply anti-Semetic. This is a small percentage.”

    Could Kurzer be Jewish? Who knows! And does it matter? But, and here’s what DOES matter: Why can’t he spell “anti-Semitic” properly?

    And there is a guy (I guess a reg’lar reporter for WNYC (public radio, NYC)) who pronounces “antisemitic” as if it were spelled “antisemetic” (rhymes with “emetic” which makes me want to throw up).

    And another thing. They don’t like BDS.

    • Mooser on November 18, 2016, 1:02 pm

      “And there is a guy (I guess a reg’lar reporter for WNYC (public radio, NYC)) who pronounces “antisemitic” as if it were spelled “antisemetic” rhymes with “emetic” which makes me want to throw up).”

      Let’s call the whole thing off.

  2. wondering jew on November 18, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Keith Ellison vs israel lobby. Schumer’s ascendancy to the highest legislative office ever achieved by an American jew was accompanied by his endorsement of ellison. Schumer in the trenches would be fighting ellison, but schumer, minority leader, moves out of the way, tells israel supporters to fight ellison on their own.
    I would think that the party activists should control the dnc and it’s healthy for the Democrats to reject the coming trump anti muslim measures with an american Muslim face. So the elevation of ellison is good for activating the grass roots. I think the center abandoned by the republicans is the place to be. That is: the presidential candidate need not be to the left of Elizabeth warren, even though the party needs the enthusiasm of the young whipper snappers, it’s important for the Democratic party to go in the direction of Joe Biden and not bernie sanders. A polarized electorate is unstable and if/since the republicans have moved ever rightward, victory needs the ability to talk to the center. To win back the voters who went for obama, but then switched to trump.
    The smart way to defeat ellison is to insist that it is a full time job, which it is.
    The majority of hillary voters and of the Democratic party is still pro israel. The activist wing is not. But there are other issues which separate the majority of the anti trump voters from the more radical ideas of democratic activists.

    • annie on November 18, 2016, 2:49 pm

      Schumer’s ascendancy to the highest legislative office ever achieved by an American jew

      eric cantor was house majority leader (“he became House Majority Leader when the 112th Congress convened on January 3, 2011” , a position he resigned when he lost his bid for re election in virginia’s gop primary 2014). i think that may top senate minority leader.

      in fact, the speaker of the house (not the senate) is next in succession to the presidency after the vice president:

    • annie on November 18, 2016, 3:40 pm

      I think the center abandoned by the republicans is the place to be.

      the problem with this kind of thinking is that the dem party (both parties actually) are draining membership to independents, the largest block of voters in the US electorate. the fastest growing demographic of dem voters self identify as “liberal” vs moderate. the left have traditionally been supportive of dems, but as the dems keep moving towards the middle they risk losing their base of support on the left. that’s what happened in this election, most of the die hard activists (like the ones who volunteer to get out the vote) were bernie supporters. clinton didn’t have enough volunteers to get out the vote (reported in wapo).

      plus, the dem youth (including gop youth) are increasingly not supportive of israel:

      “Millennials are less likely than older Americans to sympathize more with Israel, and more likely to sympathize more with the Palestinians.

      Millennials are the only generational cohort in which fewer than half (43%) sympathize more with Israel. And about a quarter of Millennials (27%) sympathize more with the Palestinians, the highest share of any generation.”

      older voters (the ones with the highest support for israel) die off and will be replaced eventually by millennials. dems moving to the right won’t solve that. it will just ensure they keep losing elections. the momentum in the dem party was behind sanders. dems won’t capture that wave by moving right.

      • annie on November 18, 2016, 4:27 pm

        one more thing, speaking of where the dem party should be:

        A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 54% of Likely Democratic Voters think the party should be more like Sanders. Only 26% think the party should stay more like Clinton, although a sizable 20% are undecided.

        These findings mark a noticeable shift from May when 47% of Democrats felt their party should be more like Clinton and 39% said it should be more like Sanders.


        Among all Likely Voters, 55% think it’s time for Clinton to retire, but 34% still see a future for her in public life. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

        Forty-six percent (46%) of all voters think the Democratic Party should be more like Sanders, while only 22% say it should be more like Clinton. One-in-three (32%), however, are not sure.

      • silamcuz on November 19, 2016, 2:52 am

        The younger voters are also anti-America as they correctly see that it is no different from Israel in being a violently-enforced, militarily backed, settler-colonial entity whose sole purpose is to protect white supremacy.

        This is why we need to look outside the nation-state framework when engaging in politics of change.

  3. Maghlawatan on November 18, 2016, 4:19 pm

    Trump is existential for the Dems. He picked up on bluecollar anger. The Dems should have done that. The DNC smothered Sanders because he dared address popular disgust with a corrupt and failing economic system. Wasserman Shultz paved the way for Clinton. Clinton fellated all the donors. And still lost. Sanders is still the most coherent politican on twitter.

    Trump will brutalise the people who voted for him over the next 4 years. Of his proposed tax cut 50% goes to the ultra rich with 0.8% left for bluecollar Americans. The fraud is epic.

    When the chips were down did the lobby help the Dems or did it get in the way? It got in the way.

    The US is not going to go down the road of climate hell for the sake of Israel. Sometimes luxuries are surplus to requirement.

  4. Blownaway on November 18, 2016, 5:05 pm

    First Romney then Clinton failed by hitching their wagon to pro Israel money and failing. Now Trump Is going to sacrifice his mandate at the alter of Israel. Huckabee will oversee the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem and the tea party wing nuts the regime change in Iran. There is no America first in any of this it’s Israel first. If this doesn’t hasten the end of empire nothing will. every move so far has been Israel centric. Once Medicare and Medicaid are cut and Obamacare care gone there’s gonna be some awkward questions

    • RoHa on November 19, 2016, 12:07 am


      • echinococcus on November 19, 2016, 12:33 pm

        As applied to the priest when wearing his vestments, who realizes he is there in his professional capacity, or the bride-or-groom who, now that the solemn wows have been exchanged, feel they can drop the mask, and embrace their altar ego.

      • Blownaway on November 19, 2016, 2:58 pm

        Thanks for the correction…

    • captADKer on November 19, 2016, 8:59 am

      care to factor terrorism into your “myopic”

      • Mooser on November 19, 2016, 11:45 am

        “care to factor terrorism into your “myopic” generalizations?”

        You figure you can produce “terrorism” as needed “captADKer”? Pretty funny. If you are going to threaten us with terrorism, at least use your own, not somebody elses.

      • Froggy on November 19, 2016, 12:09 pm

        captADKer :: care to factor terrorism into your “myopic” generalizations?

        You make a good point.

        By ‘terrorism’ do you mean people who join and are active in organisations like the Leumi, the Haganah, the Irgun, the Palmah, and the Stern Gang? These terrorists were Jewish, if I remember correctly.

        Now there is settler violence — terrorist acts — against Palestinian civilians including Palestinian families who are out tending their crops, children who are walkinbg to school, or families who are asleep in their beds.

        You lot are in no position to point fingers.

      • Blownaway on November 19, 2016, 3:01 pm

        No not at all because none of them factored terrorism into their financial calculation. Most terrorism in the US is home grown inspired by actions of the US in Muslim countries. The only other terrorism was caused by the US allies in Saudi. No I stand by what I said. It’s financial terrorism inspired by Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson.

  5. RoHa on November 19, 2016, 12:17 am

    “an ambassador to the Jewish community,”


  6. JWalters on November 19, 2016, 12:46 am

    Israel is a country dedicated to the proposition that all men are NOT created equal. It PRACTICES as a matter of POLICY ethnic nationalism and ethnic supremacism (as Mondoweiss has so well documented). While Clinton decried the cruel white nationalism and white supremacism in the Trump camp, she scurried to cover up the equally cruel Jewish nationalism and Jewish supremacism by which Israel is governed.

    Why this disgraceful cover-up? MONEY. If America’s media and politics were not flooded with Israeli money, NO ONE would buy the Israeli crap. The facts are simply too overwhelming. Israel’s evil policies are a menace to America and the world. The only beneficiaries are war profiteers.

    What went wrong for Democrats? Most fundamentally, they sold out to the criminal oligarchy. The stink is waking up increasing numbers of people.

  7. silamcuz on November 19, 2016, 3:16 am

    This article failed to back up its outrageous headline claiming “obsession” on part of the Clinton campaign in fighting BDS. Apart from some stray emails on the subject, to my knowledge there were never any form of campaign promises or written statement released by Clinton attacking BDS, throughout the campaigning.

    Trump repeatedly yammering about building a wall during the campaign trail was an obsession.

    • Rob Roy on November 19, 2016, 5:39 pm

      I heard Clinton say several times the first person she would invite to the Oval Office would be Netanyahu, and her first order of business would be to stop BDS. She thought she could actually make a law against it. If not, institutions supporting BDS would have their federal funding withdrawn and none of those entities would get government contracts. Several times. It was part of her platform of promises.

      • silamcuz on November 19, 2016, 10:17 pm

        Promising to invite Netanyahu to the White House is standard practice for a politician. Both Trump and Clinton promised similar sounding things with regards to Israel during campaigning, in order to placate the strong Zionists influences within the political arena and media.

        You judge a person by his action. This is especially true when it comes to politicians. Regardless of what Hillary may have said in public, in private she has always been pro-Palestine and pro-justice.

      • annie on November 19, 2016, 11:51 pm

        You judge a person by his action… she has always been pro-Palestine and pro-justice.

        what action of hers might you be referencing to lead you to this conclusion.

      • Mooser on November 19, 2016, 11:37 pm

        “Regardless of what Hillary may have said in public, in private she has always been pro-Palestine and pro-justice.”

        You betcha, “Silamcuz”! Say, wasn’t that what a lot of those private e-mails were about, Hilary seeking justice for the Palestinians? There are several articles here at Mondo detailing Hilary’s concern for the Palestinians, as shown in her private e-mails.

      • annie on November 20, 2016, 6:16 pm

        sila, did you know clinton co sponsored legislation supporting the illegal wall just days after the ICJ ruling calling it illegal and against international law. with friends like that who needs enemies?

      • silamcuz on November 20, 2016, 11:14 pm

        Why wouldn’t she support Palestine? Why would any smart, educated and capable woman willingly go and support a regime, an ideology, based on the patriarchal establishment such as Israel, moreso after all the shit Hillary went through in America because of the same patriarchal mindset of the Republicans?

        On the other hand we have Palestine, where women are respected for who they are and what they are capable of, regardless of faith. You don’t see strong, fiercely feminist women mirroring Hillary coming out of the Zionist camp. Not one.

        In Palestine, feminism is baked into the very fabric of the culture, nurturing strong women who embodies all the qualities Hillary is famous for. Full of compassion, love, fierceness, intelligence, pride and sense of justice. In Palestine, it is the womenfolk who are sustaining the struggle for their liberation, through their immense strength and sacrifice. To accuse Hillary of forsaking these women to appease the vile Zionists who are full of toxic masculinity and patriarchal attitudes, shows extremely lack of character assessment skills.

        Anyways, its all pointless now. Trump has won the election and we just have to fight this battle on top of the thousands of others, in the ultimate war for justice and liberty.

      • Mooser on November 21, 2016, 12:57 pm

        “To accuse Hillary of forsaking these women to appease the vile Zionists who are full of toxic masculinity and patriarchal attitudes, shows extremely lack of character assessment skills.”

        Yeah, it’s all “Annie’s” fault Hilary is the way she is, and does what she does. “Annie” makes her do it.

  8. Maghlawatan on November 19, 2016, 8:13 am

    Israel is an ethnocracy. Nurit Peled Elhanan explains it in her book Palestine in Israeli schoolbooks.

    “According to Wertsch, State sponsored narratives are not supposed to be logically or scientifically right or to engage students inhistorical inquiry, but to form a strong collective identity. ”

    Israel is a settler colonial project. There was no Israeli identity 100 years ago. It had to be created. It was based on 1940s thinking about inferior races.

    It was based on a few pillars

    -We are not Arabs
    -The Arabs will always be weak
    -We will always have the support of the US
    -We make our own reality
    – We have no past

    The identity is not strong enough to cope with what is happening now

    The point of being Jewish is to live a good life, not to be a Cossack. Anyone can be a ****. But what would be the point ?
    They should have stayed at home in 1967.

    • Rob Roy on November 19, 2016, 5:50 pm

      In addition to your comment…There are very few Arab Jews left in the world, and you are right, they won’t admit it and even say they are not Arabs, which brings us to the term so readily thrown at anyone who criticizes Israel, “anti-Semitic.” Arabs are Semites, the Jews of Israel are not. Sooooo when you call me that term, I can say, “absolutely not, I like Palestinians.” Here’s a truism, if Israeli Jews actually went to the West Bank, they would find the Palestinians don’t want to kill them, as the Israelis told me, they just want to live in peace and freedom. They are a warm, wonderful, generous people, but Israelis who won’t go meet them will never know that and will continue to teach their children that “Palestinians aren’t human, they are animals.” BTW, I’m anti-Israel, not anti-Jew.

  9. Maghlawatan on November 19, 2016, 8:19 am

    Societies need deep wells of culture to get through times like these. Israel has a puddle.
    Yossi Israeli is so easy to manipulate. He is emotionally unstable after all the wars.

    • DaBakr on November 19, 2016, 4:07 pm

      Israel has a puddle…..

      If it wasn’t such a gigantic admission of ignorance it might be funny. Lol.

      • Maghlawatan on November 19, 2016, 5:10 pm


        Israeli kids are taught wall to wall bullshit
        Orthodox kids aren’t even educated

        The only coherent people in Israel are the 48 Palestinians and a couple of thousand intuitive Jews .

        The house was bet on Groupthink

      • DaBakr on November 19, 2016, 10:02 pm

        I almost never resort to simplistic explanations for the behavior of true-believing anti-zionists but while you can hate the people(oh, except the ‘few 1000’ that you approve of) and the nation the claim that the well of culture is a puddle, well, it’s just plain juvenile jealousy. (Unless your also going to claim the even more ignorant statement that european Jews have no cultural connection to the land. If your that stupid then I guess anything you state is is in the realm of your perceptions )

        Btw… How many orthodox Jews I Israel have you met? And as for orthodox Jews being indoctrinated, I wouldn’t talk as it seems like you were just as indoctrinated by a different set of obnoxious beliefs. Sorry for that.

      • Mooser on November 19, 2016, 11:52 pm

        “And as for orthodox Jews being indoctrinated, I wouldn’t talk as it seems like you were just as indoctrinated by a different set of obnoxious beliefs. Sorry for that.”

        And why should we care about anything outside our own Jewish “set of obnoxious beliefs”? We’ve got 2 billion people, all united with the same set of beliefs. And no links to, no investment in any other set of beliefs, obnoxious or otherwise. The judgments of outsiders have never been a source of concern to the Jews. We tend to be a little insular that way.

  10. James Canning on November 19, 2016, 1:12 pm

    Is Hillary Clinton able to discern the fact Israel can benefit from BDS campaign?

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