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‘Do not blame Israelis for settlements or excessive use of force’ –Clinton stance was clear a year ago

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Browsing the Wikileaks dump of 47,000+ emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta this morning, there are more great revelations about how our mainstream politics really work, when it comes to Israel and Palestine.

In no clear order of importance, let’s have a look. I’m starting with the gossip. I’ll get to the policy position in my headline at the end.

Notice the way Hillary Clinton corrects a foreign policy ad in January that shows her brokering a peace deal and pictures her with Israeli and Palestinian leaders:

One question: the images of Bibi and Abbas w the narrative being the cease fire are off. The images are from our peace efforts not the cease fire. Worried we’ll be criticized. There should be photos from cease fire announcement in Cairo.

It’s that nickname, Bibi, parallel with Abbas. You know who counts. Even Dennis Ross calls Abbas by his informal name, Abu Mazen.

This email sent to the campaign braintrust last year by Haim Saban’s aide links to a Jerusalem Post list of the world’s most influential Jews. Saban is number 6, and pictured with Hillary Clinton. The list includes also Janet Yellen, Jack Lew, and Wendy Sherman. Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson and Malcolm Hoenlein and Ron Lauder are in the top ten too. Saban’s aide comments to the Clinton team: “You are all in good company.”

Earlier this year Saban responds to news of Clinton victory in the Nevada caucuses:

I’m in Israel and just woke up to the news,,,,,, Haleluya!

Politico says today in a report based on the emails that Saban is “Team Clinton’s favorite billionaire.” And here is Saban last night, thanks to Jewish Insider, with Patriots owner Robert Kraft at the fundraiser for the Israeli Defense Forces– which is to say, these men are funding human rights atrocities.

Robert Kraft and Haim Saban, Nov. 2016, from Jewish Insider, at the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Western Region Gala Dinner 2016 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

Robert Kraft and Haim Saban, Nov. 2016, from Jewish Insider, at the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Western Region Gala Dinner 2016 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

Back to the leaks. Here’s Stu Eizenstat in March 2015 crowing over the fact that Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a statement saying that Hillary Clinton is going to restore relations with Israel to a more constructive footing than President Obama, thereby throwing Obama under the bus for his criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu for racism in the recent election.

Dear Huma [Abedin] and Jake [Sullivan], … It seems to it is “mission accomplished”, at least for now. On to Iran! Best wishes, Stu

Eizenstat soon got on the Iran job: positioning Clinton inside the Jewish community by guiding her July 2015 statement against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel, which was used to balance her eventual support for Obama’s Iran deal. In June 2015, Eizenstat urged Jake Sullivan to have Clinton consult a “wide” range of Jewish leaders before condemning BDS, and to call BDS “odious”.

Have Hillary call a select few on the list, for example Malcolm [Hoenlein], Abe Foxman, David Harris, and Jerry Silverman [of the Jewish Federations of North America]…Then issue a statement, mentioning the wide outreach.

Pretty conservative definition of outreach! The point, said Eizenstat, “is to make it a serious effort to get their input.”

A few days later, Eizenstat pressed Amatzia Baram, an Israeli scholar on Iraq and ISIS on Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy guru/Rhodes Scholar apparatchik. Writes Eizenstat: “He was consulted extensively by the USG during the Bush Administration.” Like that’s a recommendation? It is to Israel supporters, Bush was very popular in Israel. Sullivan writes back that he would love to see Baram’s article and: “Hopefully we will meet soon!”

More Saban. In February 2015, Politico sends the campaign questions about Bill Clinton’s relationship to Saban. Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, Tina Flournoy quotes Politico’s questions, and answers the second one:

It has been reported that the State Department rejected a consultancy [Bill Clinton] proposed with Saban Capital Group. Is that so? Or was there never a formal objection from State to that arrangement? Did it go forward?*

*Who paid the expenses associated with President Clinton’s travel to Israel in December 2009 to speak at the Saban Forum?*

[Flournoy:] The travel expenses were paid for by Haim Saban.

Later that spring, Saban held a fundraiser at his house with Hillary Clinton; and lots of his friends had foreign policy questions. Podesta promptly got back with Sullivan’s name. Meantime, Saban hooks Podesta up with Isaac Lee, an executive at Univision, a Colombian Jew who studied in Israel,

you should talk to each other.

Later Donald Trump will eject a Univision exec from his press conferences.

Enough networking. Here is substance. Back in October 2015 as the “intifada of knives” broke out in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Clinton team prepared new Talking Points on Israel and Palestine, and an aide communicated them to Podesta. Many of these statements would be reflected in Clinton’s public comments in months to come, especially the refusal to condemn Israeli settlements.

On the outbreak of violence, blame Palestinians:

while the U.S. supports the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, their leaders need to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to peaceful means and avoid incitement.

The State Department had lately condemned an Israeli stabbing attack against Palestinians in Dimona as an act of terrorism. Asked if the campaign goes along with that, it ducked and dodged:

What is most important right now is to do all we can to encourage deescalation and help restore calm. That is what will make a difference in people’s lives.

Here’s the settlement stuff. The Clinton campaign wants no part of the Obama administration’s condemnations of settlements.

Secretary Kerry has been criticized for implying that settlement activity is the cause of the recent violence. He stated at Harvard two days ago that: “What’s happening is that unless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody. And there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing, and a frustration among Israelis who don’t see any movement.” Do you agree with that assessment?

• What is most important is that we remember two things. First, violence and terrorism are never the right response. They are unacceptable and must stop.

• Second, our focus now needs to be on helping the Israelis and Palestinians to deescalate the situation and restore calm.

More on the danger of criticizing settlements:

Pitfalls to Avoid

• Do not get into an effort to try to explain the sources of the violence. Instead focus on the importance of all sides taking deescalatory steps to end it.

• Do not put blame on the Israelis for settlements or excessive use of force. But also avoid implying that you are giving them a carte blanche to pursue those policies – especially on settlements.

So the Clinton team has an inkling why those Palestinians might be resorting to knives, but it won’t talk about that. Remember that the Clinton team fought to remove any condemnation of settlements and occupation from the Democratic Party platform last June and July, in what Cornel West said at the time was a pander to AIPAC, the Israel lobby.

Philip Weiss

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

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7 Responses

  1. Kay24 on November 4, 2016, 2:51 pm

    The fat elephant in the room – do not refer or talk about illegal settlements, or the fact that the occupier is using excessive force (with US weaponry) against the real victims, the Palestinians.

    That about sums up how the leadership in this country, AND the media keep enabling the criminal occupier. We know this has gone on for years, and years, and obviously they have no conscience, and seem to sleep well, even when Israel sends deadly bombs into homes and civilian structures massacring thousands including little children. A vote for either Heartless Hillary and Dangeorus Drumpf will continue the enabling and unwavering support of a violent occupier.

  2. Citizen on November 5, 2016, 12:39 am

    Both continuing violations of international law.

  3. Dmesh on November 5, 2016, 1:01 am

    Shes in their pocket. Shes a corrupt politician for sale and she knows it. She goes against the interests of her people, sometimes for israel and sometimes for other donors (saudis, wall street, etc)

    “You dont have to be jewish to be a zionist!” -joe biden

  4. Kay24 on November 5, 2016, 6:54 am

    Necessity is the mother of invention. These Palestinians have talent and determination.

    Out of ashes….

  5. Ossinev on November 5, 2016, 7:53 am

    The American (and European) indulgence of Israel in their politics and in their MSM will IMHO unfortunately blow up in their face in the near future.

    1) The “Two State Solution” charade has already imploded. The carefully crafted settlement expansion and the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem means that the train has left the station long ago and the tracks have been ripped up. The Yahoo and his new right wing cohorts are just keeping the farce going as a way of covering their tracks. The corrupt and useless Abbas and his equally corrupt and useless cohorts who have played along with this charade for so long will soon be ousted by the younger generation of Palestinians and the whole Oslo Palestinian Authority farce will also implode. Result = one state reality and Israel Apartheid reality which America and Europe will not be able to whistle away.

    2) And a much more frightening scenario with potentially horrific consequences world wide. The right wing freaks in Israel who have been cultivated and nurtured by the Yahoo will finally claim the reward for their support by taking over the Al Asqa compound and mosque, actively supported by the IDF , and start to build their “Third Temple” as the final jigsaw piece in their Biblical Theme Park. Palestinian Muslims will understandably react violently as will their immediate neighbours in Jordan and Egypt in the Middle East. Even more worryingly there will be a violent backlash from the estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide (almost a quarter of the world`s population ) against the Americans and Europeans who will be seen to have facilitated what will be seen as an outrage by these Muslims. Very very serious implications for world security and the world economy.

    Sorry to sound so prophet of doom but unfortunately that is how I am reading things. The only potential brake on either 1) or 2) is Obama in his last days as President finally biting the bullet on Israel and acting rather than hinting – I have no great hope for this.

  6. Talkback on November 5, 2016, 12:06 pm

    “Do not blame Israelis for settlements or excessive use of force’ ”

    Israel AND the US violating Humanitarian Law:

    IV. Geneva Conventions:
    Article 146: “The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article .

    Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a ‘ prima facie ‘ case.

    Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article. […]”

    Article 147: “Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention:
    wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, […] or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”

  7. brent on November 5, 2016, 9:14 pm

    Let’s hope Black Lives Matter people don’t start throwing stones or using knives.

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