After eight years of a president who has hung Israel out to dry, American Jews might be expecting some relief at the 2016 election. Surely, they might be thinking (unless they are the 70-odd percent of US Jews who voted for President Obama) anyone else can only be an improvement? Enter Hillary Clinton.
Earlier this week, to the surprise of no one who has not spent the past two decades on Mars, Hillary announced she would be running for president.
To be more precise, she is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination – but then if you’re Hillary, humility is not your thing. Since her husband, Bill, was in power, she has behaved as if her own eventual succession to the White House was part of the divine right of kings.
Accordingly, her announcement – in a studiedly low-key video – provoked a level of excitement surely not seen since Achilles appeared at the gates of Troy.
This in spite of handicaps which would have long felled any other presidential hopeful.
First, she is known to be a poor candidate: charmless, defensive, slippery. Second, she is an obvious throwback to the past.
Third, she has been dogged by scandals of which two, over her catastrophic misjudgment of the lethal attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi and, more recently, unresolved questions over thousands of deleted messages passing through a private email address while she was secretary of state, are likely to dog her.
Nevertheless, a weak Republican candidate, reflecting that party’s existential crisis over what it stands for, could hand her the presidency. So would Hillary actually be better for both the Jewish people and the rest of the world than the present incumbent? She has long been sending out signals that she would be less appeasement-minded than Barack Obama and more inclined to take on the bad guys.
Through the medium of a recent telephone call with Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, she carefully positioned herself as the potential savior of the US-Israel relationship which has been so imperiled by the Obama presidency.
Hold the champagne. This woman changes her political complexion more frequently than a chameleon on speed.
During her nine years as a senator for New York state, which includes arguably the most Jewish city in the world outside Israel, she posed as a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Yet this hardly matched her previous or subsequent attitudes.
In November 1999, on a visit to the Middle East while Bill Clinton was in the White House, Hillary publicly appeared with Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha. Mrs. Arafat proceeded maliciously and falsely to accuse Israel of using poison gas against the Palestinians and contaminating with chemicals Palestinian water sources.
Having impassively listened to a simultaneous translation, Hillary gave the terrorist’s wife when she finished a hug and a kiss. After all hell subsequently broke loose, Hillary belatedly criticized all inflammatory rhetoric, dismissed the kiss as the Middle East equivalent of a handshake and claimed that the translation – which reporters who were also listening to it reproduced correctly – was “unclear” and “incomplete.”
There is much evidence of where her real sympathies lie. In his book American Evita: Hillary Clinton’s Path to Power, Christopher Anderson wrote: “At a time when elements of the American Left embraced the Palestinian cause and condemned Israel, Hillary was telling friends that she was ‘sympathetic’ to the terrorist organization and admired its flamboyant leader, Yasser Arafat.”
Her hostility to Israel has been revealed in her own words and deeds. In her memoir Hard Choices, she accuses Israel of being an occupying force and claims that it denies “dignity and self-determination” to Palestinians in the West Bank. But these claims are malicious distortions employed by Israel’s enemies.
In a CNN interview, Hillary described her “complicated” dealings with Benjamin Netanyahu when she was Secretary of State: “I’ve known Bibi a long time and I have a very good relationship with him, in part because we can yell at each other, and we do. And I was often the designated yeller.”
So what was she yelling about? Well, Israel’s settlements. Oh, and that Israel was the obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
Repeatedly she called for “a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth – any kind of settlement activity.” She constantly attacked Israel for undermining the peace process – while giving Mahmoud Abbas a free pass for refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state. Just like Obama.
One wonders if there is any position she won’t adopt to gain power. As an article in the leftist Atlantic pointed out, when Bill Clinton was doing moral responsibility in the 1990s, Hillary endorsed the “three strikes and you’re out” toughening of jail penalties; in 1996 she backed the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.
Today, her inaugural campaign video features a gay couple; there are no images of police or soldiers, only the old leftist mantra of class war: championing “everyday Americans” who face a “deck still stacked in favor of those at the top.”
She presents herself as a campaigner for women’s rights. Has anyone ever heard her protest at the way women and girls are abused in Palestinian society? For two years Hillary blocked efforts by the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and many in Congress to list Boko Haram, with its long record of abducting, mutilating and raping girls and women, as a terrorist organization.
When last year Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian Christian girls and threatened to sell them into slavery, Hillary campaigned hypocritically and meaninglessly for their release.
Those still inclined to view Hillary as a political centrist should look at her relationship with the Chicago activist Saul Alinsky.
Alinsky created the template for Obama’s “community organizer” model of using the alienated and the disaffected to bring about revolutionary socialist change.
In 1968 Hillary wrote a thesis on Alinsky for Wellesley College, which the White House instructed to keep unpublished from 1993 to 2001. Hillary criticized Alinsky, of whose ideas she wrote warmly, on purely tactical grounds: She thought his approach was ineffective, but she did not disapprove of his aims.
Subsequent correspondence between the two which came to light last year reveals Alinsky had considerable influence on her thinking. In 1971, 23-yearold Hillary wrote that she missed their regular conversations and asked if he could meet her in California, where she was interning for a left-wing law firm.
Alinsky taught his acolytes to manipulate public sympathies by concealing revolutionary intentions behind the facade of democracy and public positions that were masquerades. His protégée Hillary Clinton has put those lessons into practice throughout her career.
American Jews told themselves a bunch of fairy tales to vote for Obama, who has put Israel at such terrible risk and done such damage to America and the free world.
Are they about to make the same mistake again? You bet they are.Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).