Who Influences Hillary Clinton on Israel?

Dec 1, 2015 by

By Alex Grobman, Ph.D.

Assessing the influence that Jewish associates, advisors, and relatives have on Presidential candidates is complicated. Just being Jewish does not mean automatically understanding the issues confronting Israel and world Jewry. It surely does not mean the politicians’ advisors will be supportive of Israel or effective advocates for the Jewish state.

All too often, Jewish voters believe that if Jews are involved in a candidate’s campaign, this will benefit our people. History has painfully shown this is to be a false assumption.

Hillary Clinton’s anti-Israel advisors, including Sidney Blumenthal, Sandy Berger, Anne Marie Slaughter, and former US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering, have been the subject of discussion within the Jewish community. Michael Oren’s description of Mrs. Clinton’s condescending behavior toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and her view that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are the impediment to peace, speak volumes about her feelings towards Israel and her failure to understand why this conflict remains unresolved.

Mrs. Clinton’s views are also influenced by her husband. In an impromptu discussion with a pro-Arab Palestinian activist in Iowa in September 2014, former President Bill Clinton was overheard asserting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “not the man” to sign a peace agreement. Mr. Clinton agreed with the activist that “if we don’t force him to have peace, we won’t have peace.”

Newly released emails make clear that Mr. Blumenthal plays a key role in providing Mrs. Clinton with information about Israel. His son, Max Blumenthal, an anti-Israel author, journalist, blogger, and the former senior writer for The Daily Beast, is a primary source of this information. In Max Blumenthal’s book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, published by Nation Books, even Eric Alterman, a columnist for the far-left publication, The Nation, called this screed a “carelessly constructed case against the Jewish state,” which should be called “The ‘I Hate Israel’ Handbook.”

Eager to present Israel and Israelis in the worst possible light, Max Blumenthal, posted a video he filmed in June 2009 on YouTube called “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem.” A  July 2009 sequel featuring Israelis is entitled “Feeling The Hate In Tel Aviv.”

In the Jerusalem film, he interviewed inebriated American-Jewish students in downtown Jerusalem to discover how they felt about President Barack Obama’s forthcoming speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt. The students vilified the Arabs and the President.

Though criticized for presenting a skewed and unrepresentative production, Mr. Blumenthal was not chastened. He was quick to defend his documentary as an example of in vino veritas.

“The notion that the racist diatribes in my video emerged spontaneously from a beery void is a delusion, but for some, it is a necessary one,” Mr. Blumenthal wrote. “It allows them to erect a psychological barrier against acknowledging the painful consequences of prolonged Zionist indoctrination.”

Writing in the English-language version of the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar on December 2, 2011, Mr. Blumenthal revealed what he portrayed as the nefarious role Israel plays in training American security forces on how to handle protesters. He maintains that this process, which he calls the “Israelification of America’s security apparatus,” was “recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement,” and “has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed.”

Mr. Blumenthal was concerned that while this instruction has been verified through media reports featuring “Israel’s national security prowess,” there had been no consideration of “the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses.”

In 2012, German Nobel laureate Günter Grass published, world-wide, the poem “What Must be Said.” The work accuses Israel of being a threat to an “already fragile world peace.” Mr. Grass called the West to task for its alleged hypocrisy regarding Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal, claiming that the Jewish state might attack Iran to halt the Islamic Republic’s atomic bomb.

When the poem unleashed a torrent of criticism, Max Blumenthal came to Mr. Grass’s rescue. In an article published  in Al Akhbar, Mr. Blumenthal said this was another Zionist “campaign to muzzle critics of Israeli policy.”

Through their smear efforts, Mr. Blumenthal and other defamers of Israel have done significant damage to the Jewish state. As English professor Edward Alexander observed: “The special contribution of Israeli accusers of Israel to the larger campaign against their country has been their compulsive promotion, with countless variations on the theme, of the Israeli-Nazi equation.”

The same can be said of Jews in general who disparage the Jewish state. Their efforts help justify acts of terror and mass murder against Israelis and minimize Iran’s genocidal threats, which in an ordinary political milieu would be acknowledged and denounced by Western public opinion.

It is hard to underestimate the damage for which an advisor such as Mr. Blumenthal may be responsible, especially as Mrs. Clinton increasingly appears to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for President.

 

Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, has written three new books on Israel: BDS: The Movement to Destroy Israel; Erosion: Undermining Israel through Lies and Deception; and Cultivating Canaan: Who Owns the Holy Land?