Out of all this week’s speeches of presidential candidates to AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby group, Hilary Clinton’s was in my book the most convincingly pro-Israel.
But she has had to work hard to achieve this status. The Israel lobby is becoming increasingly right wing. AIPAC is widely perceived to have now become the American wing of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. More and more, it pushes even Israel down an ever-increasingly fanatical right-wing path.
So when Clinton makes the usual liberal platitudes about “two states for two peoples”, there is a perception by many in these circles that she may deviate from the path of Israel-right-or-wrong. Kahanist fanatics like the Jewish Defence League in particular hate Hilary Clinton (in this respect, sexism and anti-black racism play a part, since Clinton is perceived to be pro-black, and Kahanist activists like former Jewish Defence League bomber Victor Vancier are extremely racist against African-Americans).
Such perceptions are entirely misguided. But it only goes to show that pandering to Israeli whims will never placate Israel. It only demands more and more from the US government. Witness the hatred by many in the lobby of Barack Obama.
Despite some signs (long forgotten, before he was elected) that he may offer are more balanced position on Palestine, Obama has been one of the most pro-Israel presidents in history. Billions of dollars in military aid has not only continued, but been guaranteed many years into the future under Obama. And yet he is widely hated by many in the pro-Israel community. At AIPAC, Donald Trump celebrated the imminent departure of Obama from the Whitehouse and was loudly cheered from the conference floor.
Quite often, Democrats have to prove themselves more loyal to the demands of the Israel lobby than Republicans. Clinton is proving this once again. Her speech to AIPAC was fanatically pro-Israel. In it, she dedicated full loyalty to Israeli apartheid and war crimes, and implicitly criticised Trump for supposedly being “neutral” on Israel.
The trove of Hilary Clinton emails released to the public under freedom of information law provide further insights into how dedicated a partisan for Israel Clinton is.
The right in America has made much of the fact that one of Clinton’s most important advisors has a son who is supposedly “anti-Israel”. (Sidney Blumenthal’s son is Max Blumenthal – in fact a brilliant journalist whose insights into the decaying state of Israeli democracy have been very important over the last several years. I’ve lauded his book on the 2014 Israeli war against Gaza as “the definitive account.”)
But to do so misses the wider message reading through the Clinton emails. She is doing all she can to support Israel.
One 2012 email chain shows her personal concern for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when his father Benzion Netanyahu died. Benzion Netanyahu was a racist “historian” who considered all Arabs “an enemy by essence.” This is the kind of extreme fanaticism you hear from neo-Nazi white supremacists about Jews. But that didn’t stop Clinton scheduling in an urgent call of condolence to Netanyahu hours after the death.
Emails released last year show that Clinton is very sensitive to the issue of BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
In 2009, the Edinburgh film festival returned a small amount of funding from the Israeli embassy. The festival later admitted accepting the £300 was “a mistake” and publicly returned the money. The emails show Clinton tried to intervene.
Addressing some of her top advisers, she emailed asking them if they could “reach out to the community in London and Edinburgh to urge them to raise this w PM [Gordon] Brown and other govt officials? We’d like to see top down and bottom up pressure. Let me know what you think.”
Other emails from 2011 show Clinton’s friend mocking attempts by Students For Justice in Palestine, in Chicago, to boycott Sabra hummus – a brand partly owned by an Israeli company which supports a particularly brutal unit in the Israeli army.
“There’s a full moon,” said Betsy Ebeling a friend of Clinton’s in Chicago, making fun of the boycott in an email titled “You are what you eat, I guess.” Clinton chimed in: “I love Sabra hummus — whatever that means!”
Clinton may then have wanted to make light of BDS, but the fact that she intervened in Scotland shows how seriously she and other pro-Israel fanatics take the threat of the movement for justice in Palestine. Her AIPAC speech showed that too: one of her denunciations was of the BDS movement, which is claimed is “alarming.”
Most of the presidential candidates will be terrible for Palestine. Even Bernie Sanders, the socialist, is not much better. But for my money, Clinton will be the worst.
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London and an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.