I am not a Democrat. In fact, I have never — ever — voted for a Democrat for a federal office. I’ve only ever volunteered on two political campaigns and they were both for Republicans — one for the House and one for the Senate (they lost and won, respectively, if you’re interested).
In university in America, I was president of our Hillel and pro-Israel group, and was so busy with pro-Israel activity that I spent more time ditching classes than attending them. During that time, I was also employed by my local Jewish Federation to plan pro-Israel programming on campus. After graduation, I began working for a pro-Israel organization that many (wrongly, in my opinion) would consider right-wing, and worked to organize pro-Israel activity across the country.
Since then, I have moved to Israel and joined the Israeli army, and in the 2015 elections in Israel — the first ones I was eligible to vote in — I voted for a right-wing party. Since being released from the army, I have been working for an organization that fights the BDS movement. I still work there today.
In other words, I am politically conservative, on both sides of the pond, and have spent the entirety of my adult life defending Israel, in one way or another. I can be considered an expert on the topic and regularly teach people and groups about the intricacies of the conflict as well as how to tell Israel’s side of the story and answer difficult questions about Israel.
All this considered, I think I am more than qualified to determine whether somebody, according to mainstream Jewish/Israeli opinion, should be considered pro-Israel.
And I will be voting for Hillary Clinton.
To be incredibly clear: These views are solely my own and have neither been reviewed nor approved by any organization with which I am or ever have been affiliated.
Enough has been written about Donald Trump’s unsuitability to be President of the United States of America. Prominent Republicans, the ghostwriter of his most famous book, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and many many others have spoken of his constant and compulsive lies, the fact that he’s actually a pretty mediocre businessman, and his disturbingly close ties with Vladimir Putin — and by extension the Iran-Assad-Hezbollah axis that Putin supports, which is the primary danger to Israel today.
They’ve written about his terribly thin skin, his authoritarian tendencies, and his disgusting and bigoted comments about Muslims and others who can be considered “the other” — which should be a very sensitive thing for Jews. If after all of this, you still think he is suitable to be Commander-In-Chief and direct American foreign policy for the next four years, there’s not much I can say to convince you otherwise.
If you believe that the fact that Hillary sent 113 classified e-mails on an unsecured server and that four Americans were killed in Benghazi (please note that the man who wrote Benghazi mom Patricia Smith’s speech for the GOP convention will not be voting for Trump) while she was Secretary of State truly disqualifies her from the job, then there’s not much I can say to convince you otherwise.
However, I would like to address the people who are uncomfortable voting for Hillary because they believe she is anti-Israel.
Hillary Clinton is and always has been a staunch defender of Israel’s absolute and non-negotiable right to exist as the state of the Jewish people in peace, prosperity, and security. That is irrefutable, and I challenge anybody to find a shred of evidence that suggests anything to the contrary.
As a Senator, she spoke out against incitement by Palestinian leadership. She supported our right to build the regrettably necessary security barrier and has consistently supported our right to defend ourselves, unreservedly speaking up for Israel during its war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
She cosponsored numerous pro-Israel resolutions and bills, including a bill intended to impose sanctions on the PLO if they don’t live up to their commitments made with Israel and another to hold Yasser Arafat and other PLO officials accountable for Palestinian terrorism. She cosponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which became law, a resolution expressing support for Israel in its fight against terrorism, and another positing our right to defend ourselves against Hamas, Hezbollah, and their sponsor Iran.
She cosponsored a resolution calling on Hezbollah to immediately and unconditionally release soldiers held captive by Hamas and Hezbollah, and another demanding that they allow the Red Cross to visit them.
She cosponsored numerous resolutions condemning anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial and other remarks made by the President of Iran and comments made by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. She cosponsored resolutions calling on Arab governments not to allow the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be broadcast on their official TV channels and condemning rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
As a presidential candidate, she stood up to Bernie Sanders and his cadre of anti-Israel democrats — both in debates and when she had to block their efforts to influence the platform of the DNC. She sparred with Jon Stewart on his show when he expressed sympathy for Palestinian militants in Gaza and tried to blame the situation on Israel rather than Hamas. She tells is like it is when she says that if the Palestinians hadn’t continuously rejected Israeli offers, they could have had a state fifteen years ago.
Like many pro-Israel people, I disagreed with a number of Hillary’s actions while she was Secretary of State. Her support for a settlement freeze as a precondition to negotiations in 2009 was foolish and unhelpful, which she later acknowledged in her memoir “Hard Choices.” In 2010, in a well-publicized incident, she yelled at Bibi Netanyahu after Israel approved new settlement building and it was — coincidentally — announced while Joe Biden was in the country, which the US — wrongly — viewed as an insult.
However, it is in two roles — Senator and candidate — that Hillary should be primarily judged to predict her behavior toward Israel as president. As Secretary of State, she was beholden to President Obama, a man famously unwilling to take advice from his subordinates on crucial foreign policy issues. She strongly disagreed — as did I — with the way President Obama handled the revolutions in Egypt and in Syria, for instance, issues that had and have a serious impact on Israel’s security. But he was the boss.
Even so, as Secretary of State, Hillary supported Israel’s right to stop the Gaza Flotilla from breaking the blockade of Gaza in 2011, criticizing the flotilla as an unhelpful provocation. During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Secretary Clinton stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend its citizens from rocket attacks by Hamas.
But what about that time as First Lady in 1998 when she spoke out in favor of a Palestinian state? I think we can let that go. Nearly 20 years have elapsed and the creation of a Palestinian state is the official policy of the US and Israeli governments.
What about that time when she kissed Suha Arafat even after she accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian children? The truth is, she did what she should have done as the spouse of a head of state. The next day, when she found out exactly what was said and how bad it was (Suha Arafat was speaking in Arabic so she was receiving a simultaneous translation) she condemned it.
But what about those emails she received containing anti-Israel advice from her advisors? In reality, the emails aren’t as damning as Shmuley Boteach would have you believe.
One advisor pitched the idea of creating a series of protests of Palestinian women in the West Bank calling for peace. What was Hillary’s response? She forwarded it to an aide and requested that it be printed. Well, what’s the problem? It is an interesting idea — not feasible, but still worth thinking about.
Another advisor wanted to ask wealthy people around the world to pledge money to the Palestinians to increase confidence in the viability of a Palestinian state. Hillary expressed interest and asked for the advisor to flesh out the idea. So what? Though I can see a lot of issues with this idea — the money going to the corrupt Palestinian government, for instance — it’s worth seeing if there’s a way to make it work.
I would hope that our leaders receive advice and input from a variety of sources, hearing interesting and creative ideas, including ones with which I disagree. The ideas we’ve seen in her emails were largely bad ideas, but she didn’t put them into practice, so where’s the harm? Hillary doesn’t need people sending her articles about Hamas’ use of human shields and terror tunnels, about incitement by the Palestinian authority, or about Israel’s right to defend itself. As we’ve seen, she knows all of that and she knows it well.
To be honest, her emails praising Max Blumenthal did unnerve me at first and it would have been nice to see her rebut his articles, though I would not necessarily expect her, as a very busy woman, to take the time to do so in an email. Nor would I necessarily expect her to tell her friend that his son’s articles are terrible.
The fact of the matter is, regardless of how she responded to the emails, none of Max Blumenthal’s views have, in any way, shape, or form, found their way into her words or her actions. Not as First Lady, not as Senator, not as Secretary of State, not as a candidate, and they won’t when she’s President. So it doesn’t particularly disturb me when she sends a polite sentence or two to her friend praising the work of his son, even when that son is an anti-Israel bigot.
Far from being anti-Israel, Hillary has, by and large, not even been a vocal critic of Israeli policies. The only thing on which Hillary has consistently criticized Israel for is building in the settlements. She believes, as do many Israelis, that such building reduces chances of creating a viable Palestinian state — an objective which the US, Israel, and most of the world share.
If you absolutely and on principle oppose the creation of a Palestinian state at any time in the future, then Hillary may not be the candidate for you. If you believe that it is a commandment from G-d that we not give up an inch of the biblical Land of Israel, then Hillary may not be the candidate for you.
I happen to believe in the concept of a Palestinian state, and its necessity, but that now — for a number of reasons, including the weakness of the PA and the overwhelming hostility toward Israel in this generation of Palestinians — is not the time for its creation. I believe that Jews have an absolute right to live in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), but that for the sake of Jewish self-determination and the continued existence of a Jewish Israel, we will have no choice but to make compromises, including relinquishing sovereignty over parts of the land.
As an American Israeli who believes in Israel’s absolute and non-negotiable right to exist as the state of the Jewish people in peace, prosperity, and security, Hillary Clinton is the candidate for me.
American Jews who support Trump because they believe Hillary is anti-Israel are doing a great disservice to Israel, to America, and to the Jewish people.