With vocal support of Israel, Clinton rankles pro-Palestinian Americans
August 11th, 2014
01:10 PM ET
2 months ago

With vocal support of Israel, Clinton rankles pro-Palestinian Americans

Washington (CNN) - Hillary Clinton has been upfront about her support for Israel's recent military operations in Gaza. And her outspokenness is infuriating pro-Palestinian supporters in the United States.

Since Israel kicked off Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in early July, Clinton has strongly and repeatedly said she backs Israel's right to defend itself. She stepped up that message in a recent interview with The Atlantic, in which she charged Hamas for "stage-managing" the conflict to engender sympathy.

"There have been a lot of political support for what Israel has done in Gaza, but to go so far to say that Palestinians are stage managing dead children is disgusting," said Rania Khalek, a Lebanese blogger for the pro-Palestine Electronic Intifada blog. "It is really disheartening and frustrating to see politicians in the United States blaming Palestinians for their own slaughter."

Israel has been criticized for hundreds of civilian deaths, particularly those at United Nations schools and local hospitals. The country's leaders contend, however, that Hamas is intentionally firing rockets from within civilian areas in order to engender support for its cause when innocent civilians are killed.

Hillary Clinton splits with Obama on foreign policy

"What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has," Clinton said. "Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel."

The comment, particularly the charge of stage managing, did not sit well with pro-Palestine activists and writers.

The reaction to Clinton's interview with the Atlantic from pro-Palestine activists and writer was swift and loud, especially on Twitter:

In addition to their frustration, the biggest takeaway for pro-Palestinian writers from Clinton's interview was this: She is running for president.

"Stage-managing is an exaggeration," said Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at The American Task Force on Palestine, a nonprofit think tank on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Ibish said that there is plenty to criticize Hamas over, but Clinton's comments went further than she ever has because he feels she is vying to win the presidency in 2016.

"I don't think there is a lot of political cache is taking on pro-Israel sentiment when you are going for the highest office in the land," he said. "From a political point of view, I understand why someone is going to do that. What she is engaging in is politics, not foreign policy."

Ibish was not alone in this sentiment. A handful of pro-Palestine activists and writers said her comment further cemented their feeling that Clinton - the Democratic party's frontrunner for the presidency in 2016 - is vying for the job.

She was "posturing in preparation for a presidential run," Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the The Jerusalem Fund, said bluntly.

"The language that she used yesterday, the uncritical acceptance of the Israeli narrative in Gaza, means she is already thinking in a very politically calculated mode and is prepared to defend against critics on the right," he added.

CNN reached out to a Clinton spokesman to respond to these claim, but did not immediately receive a response.

It is not only pro-Palestinian activists who are noticing Clinton's lock-step support of Israeli's government. In an opinion editorial for Haaretz, Peter Beinart – an academic who is outspoken against some aspects of Israel's dealings with Palestine – writes that Clinton has become "the Israeli government's best spokesperson."

Noting that during the interview Clinton said "you’re damn right I would expect to have security [control over the West Bank]" if she were prime minister of Israel, Beinart writes "Why does Clinton again and again endorse Netanyahu’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even when it contradicts long-standing American positions? Because she’s so willing to see the world through his eyes."

"One of the hallmarks of Barack Obama’s statements about Israel and Palestine, going back to his 2008 presidential campaign, has been his insistence on giving voice to the fears and aspirations of both sides," notes Beinart. "In Hillary Clinton, by contrast, at least judging from her interview on Sunay [sic], Israel has yet another lawyer. And a very good one at that."

Clinton has long been a vocal supporter of Israel, but that support has not always been certain.

When she ran for Senate in 2000, she had to win over a skeptical New York Jewish community by reassuring her commitment to Israel. Some, at the time, worried that the former first lady was too sympathetic to Palestinians. But she effectively won them over and enjoyed Jewish support in both of her Senate race and her failed bid at the presidency in 2008.

Although Clinton's cred with American Jews was somewhat questioned during her four years as President Barack Obama's secretary of state – largely because of her work with Iran – Clinton been vocally pro-Israel since kicking off her memoir tour in June.

During an NPR interview in July, Clinton strongly sided with Israel in the country's conflict with Hamas and the Gaza Strip.

Clinton said that she has "no doubt" that the current conflict "was a deliberate provocation" by Hamas to "engender more sympathy for their cause and also to put Israel on the back heal."

"I think the responsibility falls on Hamas," Clinton said.


Filed under: Foreign Policy • Hillary Clinton • Israel
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    The country's leaders contend, however, that Hamas is intentionally firing rockets from within civilian areas in order to engender support for its cause when innocent civilians are killed.
    ------------------------------------–
    If you can't prevent collateral damage, then you should think twice before bombing. If you want to get rid of Hamas, go into Gaza with foot soldiers and fight them. Sorry Benjamin, but you're losing the PR campaign and are looking like the bad guy as well. What justification do you have that Hamas was responsible for the death of those Israelis?

    It's pretty pathetic that we give $3 billion in aid to Israel, but don't give a darn about Detroit and the suffering going on there.

    August 11, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Tony D

    WOW!! Now Hillary Clinton is alienating all of the Jew and Israel haters in the Democrat Party?!! That is a BIG group.

    I am now thinking Hillary Clinton is NOT going to be running for President. Better dust off Crazy Joe Democrats! Or maybe a Sanders/Warren pure socialism ticket for a real laugher!

    August 11, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Being pro American means being anti republican. Is it possible to be anti Hamas without being anti Palestinan?

    August 11, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. smith

    Here is just another example of the split in the Dem. party. H. Clinton and traditional dems support Israel and progressives do not. Im with Clinton on this one, Israel has the right to defend its self from terrorist.

    August 11, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. Say WHAT???

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    It's pretty pathetic that we give $3 billion in aid to Israel, but don't give a darn about Detroit and the suffering going on there.
    --

    Sorry Bub, send THAT bill to the Democrat Party that ran the place into bankruptcy with their insane policies and corruption.

    August 11, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Dead Bear

    Can anything the Israelis do ever be criticized without being called anti-Semitic? It's not like they don't have a right to exist or defend themselves but killing children isn't exactly viewed favorably by anyone.

    August 11, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. DRJJ

    Thank you Hillary, you are on the right side of history (re Israel that is)!

    August 11, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. freedom

    Hilary should know all about "stage-managing" – Benghazi lies, cover-ups, and displaced loyalties. Her colleague was brutally murdered and dragged through the streets – and that wasn't enough for her to reveal the TRUTH. This woman brings nothing to the table but her despicable own self-centered agenda who will stop at NOTHING to get what she wants.

    August 11, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Say What? – The $24 billion the republicans cost us for their government shutdown then should be sent to you and the GOBagger party?

    August 11, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    Rudy NYC
    What happened? We let Republicans have control of the White House and the Congress for nearly a decade and they crashed the economy....again. Just like they did back 1929, when they had ad control of the White House and the Congress for over a decade.
    -

    only problem with your posting is that it is a lie rudy. democrats controlled both the house and senate 2006-2008 and lead us right into the recession. warning after warning about subprime mortgages being dangerous, nothing done. barney frank, looney leftist democrat said all was well, nothing wrong, no problem.

    nice try but we gotcha!
    ----------------------------------------
    No, you're trying to rewrite history. The housing bubble was well under way in 2006, which was controlled by Republicans. Democrats didn't have the majority until 2007, when The Great Recession is agreed to have begun.

    The Great Recession was different from most economic downturns. Previous recessions were usually centered on just one sector of the economy. The Great Recession hit all major sectors across the board. Housing and new home construction was hit by a bubble. Manufacturing saw nearly 50,000 factories close up during the Bush years, taking nearly 8 million jobs with them. The airline industry was suffering from rising fuel costs. The financial sector was busy shooting itself in the foot, trying to outsmart their competitors, because of a lack of regulations and enforcement.

    August 11, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. just asking

    Dead Bear
    Can anything the Israelis do ever be criticized without being called anti-Semitic? It's not like they don't have a right to exist or defend themselves but killing children isn't exactly viewed favorably by anyone.
    ---

    how many dead jewish children would there have been from those 3,000 missiles fired at israel if they didn't have the iron dome? fact is hamas loves all those dead kids and wants more so they can call in the tv cameras. I wouldn't put it past these terrorists to drop a few mortars, bombs or missiles on them just to make sure they have enough for the cameras.

    the solution is simple. hamas stops the missiles and tunnels and israel goes back to living in peace with the terrorists. no more dead kids. it really is that simple.

    August 11, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. captains courageous

    Well, dick and George climbed to extreme wealth over the dead bodies of 4500 dead Americans.

    August 11, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Here is just another example of the split in the Dem. party. H. Clinton and traditional dems support Israel and progressives do not."

    Here is another example of non-Dems/non-liberals deliberately mischaracterizing the views of Dems and liberals by incorrectly characterizing them as absolutist even though they are not.

    August 11, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "WOW!! Now Hillary Clinton is alienating all of the Jew and Israel haters in the Democrat Party?!! That is a BIG group.

    I am now thinking Hillary Clinton is NOT going to be running for President. Better dust off Crazy Joe Democrats! Or maybe a Sanders/Warren pure socialism ticket for a real laugher!"

    LOL. Say it with me: Madame President. Go on...say it...because she's running and is likely going to win all the way through. Your wishthink won't change that.

    August 11, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Can anything the Israelis do ever be criticized without being called anti-Semitic? It's not like they don't have a right to exist or defend themselves but killing children isn't exactly viewed favorably by anyone."

    I beg to differ. Killing CERTAIN children is viewed favorably by a growing number of Israelis and, well, we all know what's up with the Teatrolls. Israel has recently been exhibiting a growing problem with a segment of the public quite literally demanding genocide and the MSM and CNN are all just too cowardly to report on it honestly.

    August 11, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Shalom Freedman

    Is it wrong to say that 'Hamas' hss been hiding behind its civilian population? Is it wrong to say that rockets have been fired on Israel's civilian population from schools, mosques, private homes, hospitals? Is it wrong to say that Hamas' Covenant calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews everywhere in the world?
    The Truth may be hard to bear but Hillary Clinton has spoken it in this instance.

    August 11, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "how many dead jewish children would there have been from those 3,000 missiles fired at israel if they didn't have the iron dome? "

    Not that many. The Iron Dome is pretty nifty and works great, but the MacGyver-style slapdash homemade rockets Hamas has been firing for years are notoriously inaccurate, clumsy, and non-lethal. The numbers prior to the Iron Dome were still less than the horrifying bodycounts Israel racks up whenever it goes into heavy-handed mode. It's not even close really. Add in the number of Palestinians dying or suffering as a result of embargoes, blockades and Israel controlling their resources, like water and power, and it gets even worse.

    Nobody is saying Israel has no right to defend itself. It's HOW they go about it that people are taking issue with. Sure, we understand...you hate yourself some Muslims and love yourself some AIPAC/Israeli lobbying, so you're going to support Israel no matter how obscene their methods are and you're going to cheer for high Palestinian bodycounts cuz "they had it comin!"...but at the end of the day it comes down to Israel consistently giving up any high horse they could possibly have by continuing to fund and encourage settlement expansion where they have no right to be.

    August 11, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. "ISIS Is A JV Terrorist Force" (per B. Obama)

    @
    LOL. Say it with me: Madame President. Go on...say it...because she's running and is likely going to win all the way thSniffitrough. Your wishthink won't change that.
    ?????????????????????????
    People were saying the same thing 2008. Hillary had already taken measurements for the drapes in the Oval Office. Didn't quite work out.

    August 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Better Women

    Hillary is not ready for the office of President. She also is a lousy campaigner. I wish she could win from a woman prospect but it's not looking good for her - it will truly depend on the Repub candidate.

    August 11, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. smith

    @Dead Bear-Funny you brought that up. I agree with you, you shoudn`t be labeled as anti-jew for being critical of Israel. However, you also shouldn`t be labeled as a racist for being critical of Obama.

    August 11, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. sonny chapman

    There's a reason Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel. And it ain't cause they like to see 'em fly.

    August 11, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. salty dog

    Better woman, unless you see something in the gop clown car the rest of us don't I think she wins, will it be good for us, who knows, but eliminating my social security, and Medicaid is a tough act to follow .

    August 11, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. smith

    @Sniffit- Mischarcterizing? I hardly think so. You sound like repub trying to deny the split in the GOP. Its there, denial won`t change that.

    August 11, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Tone

    Say WHAT???

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    It's pretty pathetic that we give $3 billion in aid to Israel, but don't give a darn about Detroit and the suffering going on there.
    -

    Sorry Bub, send THAT bill to the Democrat Party that ran the place into bankruptcy with their insane policies and corruption.

    Which rock did you crawl from under is it the misinformed rock? last time i checked the Gop are the ones with their corruption that bankrupt our country we just came out of recession that the Gop caused this is getting stupid i cannot believe that you would think that the Dems were the ones who got us into the recession of 2007-2008.

    August 11, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. sonny crapman

    sonny chapman
    There's a reason Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel. And it ain't cause they like to see 'em fly.
    --

    We know that. Hamas wants to see Israel destroyed and is doing everything in its power to get as many Palestinians killed as it can. It makes for a great anti-Israel PR campaign that the Jew haters join in on.

    August 11, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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