Why Hillary Clinton is moving left on every issue except Israel

Peter Beinart writes: From immigration to campaign finance reform to criminal justice, Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy is clear: Move to Barack Obama’s left, to energize liberal voters. Except on Israel, where she’s moving to Barack Obama’s right, to energize hawkish donors.

The latest example is a just-released letter about her opposition to the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). Among the most significant things about the letter is one of the people to whom it’s addressed: Haim Saban. (Hillary sent similar letters to at least two other Jewish organizational officials, Malcolm Hoenlein and Jack Rosen). Saban is neither an expert on the Middle East nor on Jewish law or culture. He’s a guy who writes large checks. These days, if Joseph Ber Soleveitchik or Abraham Joshua Heschel wanted to correspond with a presidential candidate, they’d first be asked to donate to his Super PAC.

And Saban isn’t just any mega-donor. He’s a mega-donor who thinks Barack Obama has been bad for Israel. As Connie Bruck reported a few years ago in The New Yorker, Saban was so suspicious of Obama’s views on Iran in 2008 that he considered backing John McCain. Saban’s preferred approach: “I would bomb the daylight out of these sons of bitches.” Not surprisingly, one Saban advisor told Bruck, “I don’t think Haim feels particularly positive about Bibi’s performance. But he certainly isn’t happy about Obama’s.”

Reading Hillary’s letter in light of its recipient, a few things become clear. First, don’t expect her to express much concern for Palestinians. In his campaign book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama emphasized the common humanity of Palestinians and Israeli Jews. “Traveling through Israel and the West Bank,” he wrote. “I talked to Jews who’d lost parents in the Holocaust and brothers in suicide bombings; I heard Palestinians talk of the indignities of checkpoints and reminisce about the land they had lost. I flew by helicopter across the line separating the two peoples and found myself unable to distinguish Jewish towns from Arab towns, all of them like fragile outposts against the green and stony hills.”

Compare that to Hillary’s letter. Yes, she reaffirms her support for two states. But only because “Israel’s long-term security and future as a Jewish state depends on having two states for two peoples.” Not because Palestinians have legitimate grievances or aspirations. And Hillary reaffirms that support in a letter to Saban, a man who, like her, supports Palestinian statehood because it preserves Israel’s Jewish majority but has so little regard for Palestinians that at an event last November, he endorsed Sheldon Adelson’s contention that they are an “invented people.” [Continue reading…]

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