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H to Jake to Malcolm to Maggie to Haim to Huma — resetting the discourse on Israel in 6 easy steps

on 25 Comments

The latest Clinton emails from Wikileaks tell a fascinating story about the time in 2015 that President Obama tried to reset the Israel relationship, and the New York Times and Hillary Clinton and the Israel lobby wouldn’t let him.

You surely remember that back in March 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection in a surprise victory by making last-minute appeals to rightwing voters that he would never allow a Palestinian state, and that Arab voters were coming out to the polls “in droves.” And the White House objected strongly both to the racism and the frank abandonment of the holy grail, the two-state solution.

Netanyahu walked back the two-state comment and the racism; but Obama wasn’t buying. And at a press availability on March 24 that will go down in history as the “Kumbaya” statement, an exasperated president expressed anger at the prime minister for his gyrations and hinted at consequences at the U.N.

I’ve said before and I’ll simply repeat:  Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the election run-up, stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was Prime Minister.  And I took him at his word that that’s what he meant, and I think that a lot of voters inside of Israel understood him to be saying that fairly unequivocally…

But I am required to evaluate honestly how we manage Israeli-Palestinian relations over the next several years…. we can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen at least in the next several years.  That is something that we have to, for the sake of our own credibility, I think we have to be able to be honest about that.

Here’s the Kumbaya part. Obama said it wasn’t just a personal issue between himself and the Prime Minister:

[T]here’s a tendency I think in the reporting here to frame this somehow as a personal issue between myself and Prime Minister Netanyahu.  And I understand why that’s done, because when you frame it in those terms, the notion is, well, if we all just get along and everybody cools down, then somehow the problem goes away….

[T]he issue is a very clear, substantive challenge.  We believe that two states is the best path forward… And Prime Minister Netanyahu has a different approach.  And so this can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

The sharp language alarmed New York Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren, who over four years in Jerusalem reliably conveyed the Israeli Jewish perspective back to the States. She wrote a piece titled, “Rebukes From White House Risk Buoying Netanyahu”– and trivialized Obama’s comments, as if he didn’t know what he was doing. Her story made it out to be personal between the two leaders. Many Israelis, she said,

have been astonished by the unrelenting White House criticism that has helped sink relations between Washington and Jerusalem to a nadir not seen for more than 25 years…

Mr. Obama showed no signs on Tuesday of softening his stance on Mr. Netanyahu’s momentary disavowal of the two-state solution that has long been the cornerstone of American policy. [Kumbaya moment followed]

The article in turn alarmed Hillary Clinton.

Clinton was preparing to announce her run for the presidency in three weeks. The last thing she needed was turbulence between the U.S. and Israel that would leave her stuck in the middle, trying to cleave to both Obama, who is popular among Democrats, and Netanyahu, who is popular among American supporters of Israel. On the night that Rudoren’s piece came out, Clinton sent it along to her top foreign policy aide, Jake Sullivan, per an email leaked by Wikileaks.

Sullivan promptly wrote back, mirroring brilliantly as Rhodes Scholars do, and copied campaign chair John Podesta:

Potus [President of the United States] comments today surprised me a bit. Doubt they surprised you two, but I thought he would be more measured.

Hillary followed up the next morning:

I think this pushing me to have to say something sooner instead of later.

What she meant was saying something in favor of Israel and Netanyahu, which would be a theme of her imminent campaign.

The president and then-secretary-of-state Clinton in 2012, with then-deputy chief of staff to Clinton, Jake Sullivan. Photo by Pete Souza of the White House.

The president and then-secretary-of-state Clinton in 2012, with then-deputy chief of staff to Clinton, Jake Sullivan. Photo by Pete Souza of the White House.

So that day, March 25, 2015, the braintrust decided that Clinton should have a call with a leader of the American Israel lobby: Malcolm Hoenlein, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Hoenlein is a powerful figure, whom Obama had reached out to when he wanted to hire Clinton as secretary of state 7 years before.

Sullivan wrote to Podesta:

Maybe she just calls him [Hoenlein]. Word will get around.


Yes….  If we do that we can background a reporter on that call.

Jake Sullivan

Jake Sullivan

Later Jake extremely-useful-to-everyone-who-matters Sullivan sent an email to Hillary Clinton scripting the call. Clinton will be nicer to Israel than President Obama, but she should avoid talking with Hoenlein about the Iran deal (which Clinton was planning to endorse):

HRC, John —

If you both continue to agree that taking a call from Malcolm makes sense, I can get it teed up tomorrow or Friday.

There are two keys, from my perspective.

First, that you and he agree what he is going to say about it — something simple like, “she thinks we need to all work together to put the relationship on a more constructive footing, to get back to basics, and to ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue.”

Second, that if he raises Iran, you tell him you’d be happy to discuss at some point in greater detail but not get pulled into a long conversation. (I’m also happy to follow up with him on this — he and I have a very good relationship on Iran.)

Stagecraft was important. Sullivan suggested that Clinton just call Hoenlein, but “H” had a better idea:

I’d rather he reach out and say he wants to talk to me and then I can call him back. Also, will you coordinate w WH?

So the call happened– surely “teed up” by Sullivan, and coordinated with the White House. I.e., we’re about to sell you out on this one, POTUS.

And three days later, on March 28, the Conference of Presidents issued a readout of a phone call announcing that Clinton was throwing Obama under the bus.


Clinton’s statement was nearly verbatim Sullivan’s script:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a telephone discussion with Malcolm Hoenlein… that she “thinks we need to all work together to return the special US-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests.” The Secretary said this includes “a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.” She further noted that, “we must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue.”

The Conference’s announcement also contained this bald lie:

Mr. Hoenlein, who initiated the conversation, said that…

The next day, Sunday, March 29, the story popped up in Politico, the Times of Israel, and of course the New York Times. “Clinton Wants to Improve Ties With Israel,” Times reporter Maggie Haberman quoted Hoenlein’s statement and allowed the campaign to play innocent:

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton confirmed that she had spoken to Mr. Hoenlein, but would not elaborate on what they had discussed or say if he had quoted her accurately.

The eagle had landed. The next day, according to this Wikileak, megadonor Haim Saban, whose one issue is Israel, was very pleased. He congratulated Clinton aide Huma Abedin:

Hey Huma. A very good statement ,,,,,w/o saying anything that would show even a sign of criticism of the administration. Very smart and politically correct. Pls say thanks to the lady.

Then Saban included Podesta in a followup:

Also pls be aware that these articles will be mailed to thousands of people who are interested in the subject matter and who have been asking themselves ,,,,and me ,many times “Where is Hillary on this” Well ,,,,,now they will know.

Because in the end it’s about those thousands of people who give money to the campaign: as Jeffrey Goldberg puts it, “what I would delicately call the donor class of the Democratic Party, which is disproportionately Jewish.” And Zionist, he should have added.

The Democratic rank-and-file was pleased and proud when our President raged at Netanyahu. But in this discourse… we don’t count.

Thanks to James North.

Philip Weiss

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

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25 Responses

  1. amigo on November 2, 2016, 2:24 pm

    Netanyahu was correct when he stated that “American can be easily moved”.

    What an understatement.

    Does anyone know where ordinary folks can get access to these wiki leaks without having to scroll through gazillions of data.

  2. yesspam on November 2, 2016, 4:06 pm

    momentary disavowal of the two-state solution

    What an understatement!

  3. annie on November 2, 2016, 4:12 pm

    phil, this was really fun to read. thanks

    • Lillian Rosengarten on November 3, 2016, 11:11 am

      So Hillary has to pander because if she does not, she hasn’t a chance to be in white house. I suspect once she wins, things could change. I don’t feel much sincerity in her support reading between the lines. No one who opposes Zionist policy has a chance to win.

    • tidings on November 3, 2016, 12:39 pm

      Fun to read yes, and also brilliant. Thank you, Phil for a front row view of how politicians connive behind closed doors. Without Wikileaks and such terrific reporting, we might believe that what we see and what they tell us is all there is.

      Is it too much to expect more like this, Phil?


    • John Salisbury on November 4, 2016, 11:43 pm

      Yes Annie

      Phil always rights well and is so across his brief !

      The emails are so indicative of the whole sorry state of things.
      Slavonic Zizek ,as usual, has an interesting take on things. Link below.

  4. amigo on November 2, 2016, 5:57 pm

    Israel writing Trump,s ME policies for him.

    “Trump’s Israel Advisers Issue Position Paper on Israel, Middle East Conflict
    read more:

    Donald Trump’s two Israeli advisors, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, released on Wednesday a position paper outlining U.S. policy on Israel and offering recommendations on alternative solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Greenblatt and Friedman were named as co-chairmen of the “Israel Advisory Committee” to Trump in July.

    The position paper proposes a number of changes to longstanding U.S. policy on Israel, if Trump is elected as president, including a pledge to veto any United Nations vote that unfairly single out Israel. cut off funds for the UN Human Rights Council, and ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel.

    With respect to the peace process, the U.S. would support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions, and will oppose all Palestinian, European and other efforts to bypass direct negotiations between parties in favor of an imposed settlement. If the two sides agree to return to the negotiation table, Trump would seek to “assist” the Israelis and the Palestinians in “reaching a comprehensive and lasting peace, to be freely and fairly negotiated between those living in the region.” haaretz

    There,s more , lots more and he is worse than Hilllary.,

  5. oneangrycomic on November 3, 2016, 8:49 am

    When a U.S. Secty of State puts the needs of foreign country ahead of the security of the U.S. and undermines critical foreign policy positions of the President, doesn’t that constitute treason?
    Can you imagine John Kerry being quoted in the NYT guaranteeing a better relationship with Russia if he’s elected president just after Obama publicly criticizes it?

  6. retired on November 3, 2016, 9:01 am

    A ray of light is, with Trump, you never know……
    Truly great reporting, Phil. Phil for Pulitzer Prize.

    • amigo on November 3, 2016, 2:22 pm

      “Truly great reporting, Phil. Phil for Pulitzer Prize. ” retired.

      PFPP—has a nice ring to it.

  7. hophmi on November 3, 2016, 10:58 am

    “The Democratic rank-and-file was pleased and proud when our President raged at Netanyahu. ”

    Right, because the feelings of left-wing Democratic base voters is more important than the Palestinians are. It’s always about you, not them. That’s why your activism sucks.

    • amigo on November 3, 2016, 2:44 pm

      “That’s why your activism sucks.” hopknee.

      Hoppy , it sucked you in 7 times ( the same number of times you mentioned antisemitism )on this thread so far.

      You are getting desperate hoppy .Defending the indefensible sucks .

  8. on November 3, 2016, 11:22 am

    Now THIS is journalism. Well done, Phil.

  9. RobertHenryEller on November 3, 2016, 12:56 pm

    Where is Hillary on this issue? Where she’s always been: With her tongue firmly wedged up Haim’s tuches, and through Haim’s tuches to Malcolm’s tuches, and through Malcolme’s tuches to Bibi’s tuches.

    A cute little human centipede.

    • eljay on November 3, 2016, 1:16 pm

      || RobertHenryEller: … A cute little human centipede. ||

      I wonder if HillaHaiMalcolmBibi makes Mr. Six proud or want to sue.


  10. pabelmont on November 4, 2016, 10:18 am

    Annie gave us an invaluable link ( and you can search it (I searched for “Israel”) and found a gem (lots of big-names, big-emails, big-telephones) at (

    ENJOY (See below the text for the lists)

    Dear _______: I am writing to express my grave concern at the growth of the odious alarm at the growth of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement, or “BDS”, a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges. This campaign against Israel, a nation that shares our fundamental values and interests, is unfair and unconscionable. I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority. I am seeking your advice on how we can mitigate its ramifications and effectively reverse this trend. As you know, BDS seeks to isolate and punish Israel in an attempt to dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues with which they are grappling. This is not the way to peace. We need two states for two peoples achieved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel’s long-term security and future as a Jewish state depends on it. But the terms of that agreement cannot be internationally imposed. BDS is the latest attempt to delegitimize Israel in a global arena. Sadly this has been tried for years at the UN and elsewhere. I reject such efforts and believe America must defend Israel at every turn. And as Senator and Secretary of State, that’s what I did. I have opposed nearly 100 anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, Human Rights Council, and other international organizations. I fought the biased Goldstone Report, making it clear that Israel must be allowed to investigate itself like any other country. And I directed the U.S. to veto the Palestinians’ effort to use the UN to unilaterally declare statehood. Time after time, no matter the venue, I have made it clear that America has Israel’s back. More specifically, I am appalled by attempts to compare Israel to South African apartheid. You know as well as I do that Tikkun Olam is a touchstone of the Jewish experience. Jews have led the way on human rights and civil rights, always raising the bar. It is wrong to ignore this tradition and use the tools that were applied to apartheid to undermine the legitimacy of Zionism. Particularly at a time where global anti-Semitism is on the rise, we need more understanding, not less. After all, it was only six months ago that four Jews were targeted and killed in a Kosher supermarket in Paris as they did their Sabbath shopping. So I am seeking your thoughts and recommendations on how leaders and communities across America can work together, in a united way, to counter BDS. From Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms, we need to engage all people of good faith on BDS, its ramifications, and why it is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace regardless of their political persuasion in explaining why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike. I hope that you will work with me on this priority. It’s hard to believe that it It was nearly three decades ago when Bill and I took our first trip to Israel. During that visit, we walked the ancient streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and reflected at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. Israel became a special place for us and I’m lucky to have had many opportunities to return. The Jewish state is a modern day miracle – a vibrant bloom in the middle of a desert. We must nurture it however we can. I hope that we can work together to think through how we can most effectively tackle BDS head-on in a way that advances the common interests and values we all embrace so deeply. I look forward to hearing back from you, and pledge to speak out on this issue in the days and weeks ahead. I would like to invite you to a meeting at XX on XX to get your views. After that, I pledge to speak out on this issue on the days and weeks ahead, with the benefit of your advice. Sincerely,

    On Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 1:05 PM, Eizenstat, Stuart <[email protected]> wrote: Jake: Per instructions received from Stu Eizenstat, please find contact information for each individual listed below:

    1. Malcolm Honlein – Tel.: (212) 318-6111; [email protected]

    2. Eric Fingerhut – Tel.: (202) 449-6560; [email protected]

    3. Rabbi Richard Joel – Tel.: (212) 960-5300; [email protected]

    4. Arnold Eisen – Tel.: (212) 678-8072; [email protected]

    5. Rabbi Aaron D. Panken – Tel.: (212) 824-2219; [email protected]

    6. Unknown

    7. Gerrald (Jerry) Silverman – Tel.: (212) 284-6700; [email protected]

    8. Dan Mariachin – Tel.: (202) 857-6500; [email protected]

    9. Abraham Foxman – Tel.: (212) 490-2525; [email protected]

    10. David Harris – Tel.: (212) 751-4000 (ext. 202); [email protected]

    11. Howard Kohr – Tel.: (202) 639-5272; [email protected]

    12. Jeremy Ben-Ami – Tel.: (202) 596-5207; [email protected]

    13. Mortimer Zuckerman – Tel.: (212) 744-3995; [email protected]

    14. Ronald Lauder – Tel.: (212) 572-6966; [email protected]

    15. Charles Bronfman – Tel.: (561) 863-7180; [email protected]

    16. Lynn Schusterman – Tel.: (918) 879-0290; (202) 289-7000

    17. Debbie Hoffman – Tel.: (202) 296-2588; [email protected]

    18. Marcie Natan – Tel.: (866) 303-3640; [email protected]

    19. Haim Saban – Tel.: (310) 557-5100; [email protected]

    20. Morton Mandel – Tel.: (216) 875-6501; [email protected]

    21. Arthur Schneier – Tel.: (212) 535-5800; [email protected]

    22. Elie Wiesel – Tel.: (617) 353-4561; [email protected]

    23. Lester Crown – Tel.: (312) 899-5010; [email protected]

    24. Frederick Lawrence – Tel.: (781) 736-3001; [email protected]

    25. Gene Block – Tel.: (310) 825-2151; [email protected]

    26. Deborah Lipstadt – Tel.: (404) 727-2298; [email protected]

    27. Joel Fleishman – Tel.: (919) 613-7376; [email protected]

    28. Dov Zakheim – Tel.: (703) 824-2000; [email protected]

    29. Stephen Trachtenberg – Tel.: (202) 994-9820; [email protected]

    30. Jane Harman – Tel.: (202) 691-4202; [email protected]

    31. Eric Goldstein – Tel.: (212) 373-3204; [email protected]

    32. Steve Hoffman – Tel.: (216) 593-2837; [email protected]

    33. Stephen Lassiter – Tel.: (202) 225-4755; [email protected]

    34. Steven Rakitt – Tel.: (404) 870-1608; [email protected]

    Should you require additional assistance, please contact Steven Glenn @ [email protected] or Laurina Holte @ [email protected].

    Thank you. Steven Glenn Covington & Burling LLP One CityCenter, 850 Tenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 T +1 202 662 5926 | [email protected]

    • jaspeace2day on November 4, 2016, 5:41 pm

      Just a hundred more reasons to vote for Jill Stein! Thanks for this post Pablo. Here is another relevant article containing an email to podesta from CAP about keeping the public dummed down:
      “And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.”

  11. gingershot on November 4, 2016, 1:43 pm

    Fascinating Clinton White House sausage making – it’s psychologically amazing to see the grip Saban has on his Lady’s short ones

    But wait a tic! – the unthinkable has happened – despite this demonstrated obedience and abject servility – events have overtaken this Neocon wench and Hillary is now on the WRONG SIDE of a just enough critical mass of Jews. OMG

    How could it have happened, with someone this dedicated to NEVER letting that ever happen?

    How could she have let Saban’s sweet nothings whispered in her ear seduce her so blindly and stupidly way too far right to the point where she is STILL aligned with Bibi and the Settlers while Israeli Apartheid is in EXISTENTIAL COLLAPSE (like her signed letter promising to fight the nearly fait accompli UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel) , and to find herself FLANKED by American Jews who are beginning to hate Bibi and the Settlers?

    The answer is smple – it all happened way too fast for her, as if events had been magically sped up, and like those new fangled computers, Hill was just too slow on the uptake and couldn’t run fast enough to keep up. Besides which she couldn’t do a d*mn thing about it because it got ‘too late’ before she could get off her Bibi Horse

    Ha! She got stuck holding the bag! Hillary is going to take the fall along with the collapse of Bibi, the Settlers, and the whole Apartheid, with her *ss superglued to the saddle!

    She probably can’t believe it herself – amazingly enough, and there well be h*ll for her to pay because of it. She will enter the presidency (?!) as DEEPLY COMPROMISED and Apartheid going over the cliff, with Bibi screaming at her to save Israel.

    Back to these beautiful emails – Team Clinton make it look so easy – and Hillary just sits at the end of the sausage line waiting for the ‘Thank the Lady’ and millions from her Sugar Daddy Haim, just like Bill told her to do.

    What a rigged game – 6 degrees of seperation, 6 easy steps to heaven and oh so controlled and playing within her zone. Oh yeah and screwing Obama in the process and saying her p*ss is rain, what fun! What a sucker! Haim and Hillary DO Obama!

    The amazing thing for me is to see the real life passivity of this supposed leader, this ‘strong woman’, this near president, prostrated by the Lobby, begging to do ANYTHING for them including sabotaging her sitting president. Haim could call her up and have her over at his place in 15 minutes if he wanted too, I bet

    Reminds me of the email from the other near American President David Petraeus to Max Boot just begging him for his Max’s approval and guidance. It’s psychologically amazing to see although it’s really just narcissists getting played by their betters.

    It’s delicious to see them getting STOPPED but sobering to realize the atrocities on mankind they’ve already unleashed – while others are left to ‘study their brilliance in dumbstruck awe, too late to matter’

    The secret is Hillary is on the WRONG SIDE of Jews that matter now – the fresh from the Kotel-Reform and Conservative Jews are going to be pushing her to stand up to Bibi and his fellow fascists, she will have an Israeli defense minister named YVET LIEBERMAN to deal with in a few months, and oh yes, there is that pesky UN Sec Co Resolution barreling down the pike which she is on the WRONG SIDE OF,

    Then there are the little details of the coming Azaria Trial Abyss, the Amona Evacuation, and all the other past due bills that Apartheid’s creditors are banging on Israel’s door

    Obama and his legacy is going to slamdunk this traitorous tool… he was so smart to keep an enemy like Hillary as close as possible. Look what she does to him as soon as she gets a chance, with bells on her toes and Haim congratulating her for the lube

    Hillary is now on the WRONG SIDE of the Jews – amazingly enough, and there well be h*ll for her to pay because of it – she’s all prepped and ready, she’s going to get the historic Indyking of all time cause she WASN’T ABLE to take care of the BIbi and the Settlers before she got into office

    It’s called getting INDYKED, eponymously after Martin Indyk, for the self described brutalization he received from the Tribe over blaming them for the *POOF* failed peace talks, and Johnny on the Spot Hillary has now ‘assumed the position’. She’s on the wrong side of history and wrong side of enough of the Jews where she just got her carte blanche shennagins card cancelled

  12. Ossinev on November 4, 2016, 1:54 pm

    “We need two states for two peoples achieved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians”

    It surely must be becoming tiresome and tedious for these d..kheads to put the comforting black bag over their head when they have to look at or think of Israel. We need two states for two peoples is a classic example of self denial. The settlements spread over the West Bank , the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem and the half million settlers ensconced all over both are just minor irrelevant issues which the Light unto the Nations can be trusted to sort out in their humane pursuit of a negotiated mythical two states. The train has left the station long ago and the lines have been ripped up. Has anyone ever asked any one of these US Israel First Two State mytholgists to sit down with a map of Israel/Palestine in front of them and and using highlight pens etc to actually map out the “second state”. I doubt if any one of them would have the b..lls or the integrity to rise to the challenge. They would probably run away in blind panic screaming Anti – Semitic , what about Syria , hopelessly biased , remember the Holocaust etc etc ad nauseum.

    Hoping to see a media forum in the near future where this map challenge is actually tabled and the crass hypocrisy of these Israel First “American Patriots !” is nailed.

  13. rhkroell on November 4, 2016, 3:03 pm

    Zionist-Jewish Americans have, in my view, either inadvertently or deliberately become the oppressors and persecutors of Palestinians, and the apologists for Israeli war criminals, by assuming their “historical victimhood” status as “Jews” which (in their minds) makes it definitionally impossible for them to oppress others while supporting a safe haven — commonly known as the modern State of Israel — for “likely” future victims of anti-Semitism.

    Christian-Zionist Americans (especially the Calvinist Christian Reconstruction Zionists, Charismatic/Pentecostal Kingdom Now Zionists, New Apostolic Reformation Zionists and others) are guilty of supporting the oppression and persecution of Palestinians too, of course, but they don’t possess the “historical victimhood” status of Zionist-Jewish Americans (which makes their role as supporters of oppression and persecution of Palestinians more palatable to most Americans).

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