American immigrant Fran Hutner, 77, views a potential Clinton win in the US presidential elections as bitter-sweet. She regretfully says that even if Clinton does win, which she doesn’t anticipate, she won’t be allowed to govern to her full capacity. In reference to the email scandal which was recently re-opened and then closed again by the FBI, Hutner says: “They will keep investigating her for four years and I think right away they will try to impeach her.
“A lot of the things she has done and is accused of doing would have been of no interest to anyone if she had been a man,” she opines, expecting such treatment to continue if Clinton is victorious. Pointing to news that former secretary of state Colin Powell had also used a personal server and had advised Clinton to do the same, Hutner remarks: “When he did it no one said anything about it; it’s a big deal because she’s a woman.”
Hutner made aliya from Atlanta, Georgia, to Netanya in 2007.
Having worked all her life as an economist, she compares her experience with sexism in her field to Clinton’s. “America is a very male chauvinist country to be honest, even more than Israel,” she states, noting that she worked on Wall Street – “a very male world.”
Hutner believes that precisely because of this experience of discrimination, Clinton can bring a different perspective, just as she says US President Barack Obama did as the country’s first black president. “She focuses on women’s issues and children’s issues in a way that a male president has never done before,” Hutner asserts. “She listens to women and women talk to her in a way I really don’t think they do to men. I think she definitely has something to offer.”
Marci (last name withheld), a 57-year-old businesswoman who later became a nanny moved to Tel Aviv three years ago from Georgia. She is far more optimistic about a Clinton victory than Hutner, telling The Jerusalem Post: “In my mind, she has already won.” A firm believer in “everything happens for a reason,” she thinks that Clinton was destined to be the first US female president. “I wish I could celebrate the day with my mother and daughter, and other Democrat women,” she says wistfully, missing the buzz of being in the US at this time.
“I think she [Clinton] has tremendous spirit and persistence to move us all forward,” she enthuses. “She is endlessly dedicated to public service,” adding that she is particularly strong on issues that pertain to minorities and children.
Pointing to the rapid growth of a “secret” pro-Clinton Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation, Marci believes there are many closet Clinton supporters who could even swing the vote in deep red states. “I think Georgia could be blue,” she muses.
Marci stresses though, that the gender of the candidate is not important and that her election could in fact be an opportunity for Americans to move beyond gender and instead focus on who is qualified to lead the US.
“I think this is a weapon for men and women who are frightened of something new, just like they were frightened when it was someone Catholic or black, and now it’s a women.” Though Marci acknowledges that there is a group of people who may never embrace the idea of a female president, she refers to them as an old-fashioned minority in a generally progressive society. They won’t have an impact on the final outcome of the elections, she surmises.
Meredith (not her real name), 64, is pleased that a woman has the potential to get into the White House, but says it isn’t a burning issue for her. “I probably would have preferred a Jew in the White House first,” she says. Nevertheless, she agrees with Hutner and Marci that as a woman, Clinton can bring a fresh perspective to the Oval Office. “I think women tend to be less hawkish... I think they will think more than twice before they start a war.”
“People say women are too emotional, but I think Clinton comes across as a very strong woman,” she adds, opining that Israel’s first and thus far only female prime minister Golda Meir was a “wonderful leader.”
But in line with the other interviewees, Meredith observes that Clinton has had to prove that strength time and time again. “I do think she was treated differently in the election campaign.
She had to prove herself more and a lot of people treated her very harshly. I think women are judged more harshly, especially by men but sometimes also by women,” Meredith says, expressing the belief that the emails affair was blown out of proportion and casting doubt on the proportion of blame placed on her over the 2012 Benghazi attack.
For Meredith, the most important thing is that America’s next president will be a good leader for both the US and Israel.
“I have to think about America and obviously Israel too – it’s a real concern for American Israelis living here.” She is cautiously optimistic about Clinton, having been disappointed by US President Barack Obama’s approach to Israel. “Clinton understands Israel better than Obama I think... I hope.”