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Sen. Hillary Clinton - 2008 U.S. Presidential Candidate

"Clinton ... has personally proved herself to the Jewish community on Israel"

"... Clinton will pull in large quantities of cash among Jewish donors"

"She's the one who has the real connection to Israel"

A collection of articles from the Jewish and Israeli Press


In this section we reproduce articles mainly from the Jewish and Israeli Press, quoting mrs. Clinton and the Jews´ opinions on her. As the material is quite massive, underlines to some key paragraphs and quotes have been added by Radio Islam. If we have deleted some section of text from the original (due to not being sufficiently interesting), this is indicated by: [...] . - Israel News, 02.01.08

US Jews in Clinton's pocket?

By Yitzhak Benhorin

Fifty-eight percent of Jewish voters support New York senator in Florida primary elections. 'Jewish support for Hillary Clinton greater than support she gets among white voters,' says Steve Rabinovich, political strategist who served in White House during Bill Clinton era

WASHINGTON – The Jews continue to support the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton is the preferred candidate for the president of the United States.

A survey conducted among voters leaving the polling stations during the Florida primary elections on Tuesday revealed that 58% of the Jews voted for Hillary Clinton, 26% voted for Barack Obama, and only 13% supported John Edwards, who quit the White House race on Wednesday.

The poll was based on a sample of 1,516 voters and was ordered by the country's leading media outlets in a bid to segment the voting distribution. Florida was the first state with a population composition similar to that of the entire US to hold primary elections.

The Jews comprise only 3.5% of Florida's population, but are known to have political awareness and take part in the elections. The Jewish voting power in Florida reached 9% of the democratic voters.

The percentage of Jews among the Republican voters stood at 3% - a figure which is within the statistical error and therefore makes it impossible to check the distribution of support between John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani.

A poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in November revealed that most Jews support Clinton and Giuliani.

Obama's dramatic leap in the primary elections appears to have no impact on the Jewish vote. One estimate is that the chain letter Obama he is hidden Muslim, alongside the questions regarding his stance towards Israel, have hurt the Jewish support for the African-American senator. 

Obama himself tried to relieve the concerns in a phone conversation he held this week with a small number of Israeli and Jewish reporters. He also plans to publish ads in Jewish newspapers in a bid to encourage Jews to vote for him in three states rich with delegates and large Jewish populations – California, New York and New Jersey. 

Democratic political strategist Steve Rabinovich, who served in White House during Bill Clinton era, told Ynet that the Jewish support for Hillary Clinton is greater than the support she gets among the White voters.

According to Rabinovich, about one-quarter of the White voters (excluding the Hispanic population) in New York, New Jersey and California are Jews.

Jews to move their support from Giuliani to McCain

According to estimates, Florida's Republican Jews voted for Giuliani and are now expected to move their support – along with Giuliani himself – to Senator McCain.

McCain is the most prominent candidate ready for a military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear problem and has stated that the only thing worse than a military move against Tehran is a nuclear Iran.

McCain's foreign policy team includes hawkish and neoconservative members like David Frum, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, Norman Podhoretz and Martin Kramer.

One of his main fund raiser, if not the most important, is Fred Zeidman of Houston, who also helped raise funds for US President George W. Bush. Zeidman is the chairman of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington.


The Jewish Daily Forward, Jan 26, 2007

Hillary the Favorite in Race for Jewish Donations - Biden, Obama Expected to Make Some Inroads

By E.J. Kessler

New York’s junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is expected to snare the lion’s share of the Jewish community’s substantial political donations in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Democratic activists and operatives said Clinton will pull in large quantities of cash among Jewish donors not only because of what they described as her strong positions on Israel and domestic matters of interest to Jews, but also because of longtime ties with these activists dating back to her husband’s administration.

The haul is important: Strategists say that serious candidates will need to raise at least $50 million — and probably more like $100 million — by the end of the year. They say that money from Jewish donors constitutes about half the donations given to national Democratic candidates (an extremely large pot of gelt long coveted by the GOP).

Clinton will get most of the Jewish community’s money, “first, because she’s going to receive the lion’s share of all [Democratic] political money, and second, because she and her husband are enormously popular with the Jewish community,” said Democratic strategist Steve Rabinowitz, a Clinton supporter.

Rabinowitz, who also “has been helpful” to former North Carolina senator John Edwards, said that “sexy guy” Illinois Senator Barack Obama and Delaware Senator Joseph Biden — “an extremely well-known quantity” to Jews — among others, would get “a piece” of Jewish largesse. But “it just won’t compare to what she gets.”

Clinton, he said, “has personally proved herself to the Jewish community on Israel, on which she was once questioned.”

Some see the hand of former President Clinton in his wife’s expected bonanza. “The pressure is there because of longtime involvement,” one Democratic strategist said. “People feel compelled to support ‘The Clintons’ and don’t want to be left out.”

Among the top Jewish fundraisers who political hands expect to line up with Clinton’s campaign is New Jersey lawyer Lionel Kaplan, a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who raised money for the former first lady’s 2006 Senate race.

Also expected to turn up in Clinton’s camp is Massachusetts businessman Steve Grossman, another former Aipac president who chaired the Democratic National Committee in the late 1990s. Grossman told the Forward that he’s “not formally committed,” but he added that “everyone knows I’m close to the Clintons.”

The Jewish backers of the other Democratic contenders, meanwhile, refuse to lie down in the face of the Clinton juggernaut.

The chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Michael Adler, is raising money for Biden’s bid. “The biggest concern the American electorate has is security,” Adler said, citing the fact that Biden has chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that he has done “tremendous work on the crime bill.”

Adler said that since Biden hasn’t pursued the presidency since 1988, “he’s not caught fire” with the public as have some other contenders. But he maintained that Biden has shown on the campaign trail that he “understands the American public” and his public performances “create a lot of loyalty and passion.”

Linda Sher, a Chicago-area Democratic activist who founded the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs, a pro-Israel and pro-choice body, is raising money for Obama.

Several Democratic hands said Obama would attract money from the more liberal precincts of the Jewish community. That proved true during his 2004 Senate bid, when he grabbed the support of the heavily Jewish “Lakefront liberals” in his state’s hotly contested primary.

“I’m getting a good response,” Sher said of her efforts. “The people I’m calling seem enthusiastic. They want to do more than give money. They want to be part of it.”

Former vice presidential candidate Edwards, meanwhile, has been reassuring pro-Israel activists and fundraisers after naming a consistent critic of Israel, former Michigan congressman David Bonior, as his campaign manager.

It was an ironical turn of events for Edwards, who during his 2004 bid for the presidential nomination positioned himself to the right of the ticket’s eventual leader, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, on Israel and Middle East matters.

Randall Kaplan, an Edwards supporter from North Carolina who’s active in pro-Israel causes, acknowledged in a telephone interview that Bonior’s hiring “is a concern among pro-Israel activists,” but said that “in conversations, [Edwards] has assured those [people] that his political positions relative to Israel will not change. Bonior was hired on for different reasons.”

Bonior possesses an intimate knowledge of the labor world, which Edwards hopes will become the backbone of his economic populist campaign. “He’s not there to have an impact on John’s foreign policy stances,” Kaplan said.

This week, during a speech at the Herzliya Conference, a major international gathering dedicated to Israeli security and diplomatic issues, Edwards stuck to his hawkish positions on Iran.

Also in the Edwards column is the enthusiastic, voluble Florida lawyer Mitchell Berger, who in 2004 served as finance chairman of Senator Joseph Lieberman’s presidential campaign.

“It’s definitely going to be a horse race,” Berger said, dismissing the notion that Mrs. Clinton had in any way locked up the nomination.


The leadership of the Republican Jewish Coalition — a key group of fundraisers who have raised millions for GOP causes — is splitting its support in the 2008 presidential race.

RJC board member Fred Zeidman, a Houston venture capitalist and lobbyist who’s close to Bush, will be raising money for Senator John McCain.

“I think [McCain’s] an outstanding patriot and American and will make an excellent president,” Zeidman told the Forward on Sunday. “He has a 20-year demonstrated record of support for Israel. Our community couldn’t be in better hands.”

Also helping McCain is RJC board member Ned Siegel, who was tapped to head McCain’s finance team in Florida.

The nascent campaign of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, for its part, has gained the support of Mel Sembler, a big Bush donor and RJC board member from Florida who served as ambassador to Italy, and the support of RJC’s national chairman, Sam Fox, a businessman from St. Louis who was recently nominated to be ambassador to Belgium. (If Fox is confirmed to the post, his son will run the fundraising effort.)

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination Saturday, is staking a claim to the most conservative element of the Jewish community — the Orthodox.

Jeff Ballabon, an Orthodox activist and GOP fundraiser from Long Island, N.Y., who signed on to Brownback’s exploratory committee, said that Brownback is well known to the Washington representatives of the Orthodox community “because he’s been one of the top go-to guys on a range of issues,” including Israel, Jerusalem, religious liberties and faith-based initiatives.

Ballabon dismissed the notion that Brownback’s opposition to Bush’s Iraq troop surge might hurt Brownback among this most hawkish element of American Jewry. When Brownback explains his opposition in context, “the pro-Israel community will be pleased,” Ballabon said.

There is an element of the Jewish community “that believed Oslo was a fool’s errand all along,” Ballabon said. When Brownback was on the Near East subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was one of the “leaders who pointed out the weakness of that approach. Many agreed with him then, and many more agreed with him now. His instincts are outstanding.”


The Jewish Daily Forward, March 27, 2008

Clinton’s Jewish Backers Divided Over How Long To Stay in the Fight

By Jennifer Siegel

As Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning the Democratic nomination grow longer, some of her top financial backers are finding themselves divided over whether she should fight on to the convention.

In interviews with the Forward this week, nearly a dozen Clinton supporters displayed a variety of opinions and emotions about the campaign, ranging from concern over the impact of a prolonged primary battle on the party’s chances in November to a steely determination to see Clinton press on through the summer. One of her supporters, who is also a major donor to the party, said he is furious at the Democratic National Committee because of the impasse over delegates from Florida and Michigan — and may express his frustration by keeping his wallet closed come the general election.

Chairman Howard Dean needs to be slapped around a little bit,” said Stephen Cloobeck, a Las Vegas real estate entrepreneur who estimates that he has given more than $500,000 to Democratic organizations and candidates. “A lot of high net worth individuals, high end donors, are absolutely disgusted. If we ran our businesses like this, we’d have big problems.”

The sharp words in defense of Clinton come as the New York senator faces increasingly slim odds in prevailing over her rival, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, who currently leads in states and delegates won, as well as the popular vote. Perhaps reflecting the changing dynamics of the contest, a new Gallup Poll has found that the two candidates are now overall neck and neck among Jewish Democrats, who just several months ago showed a marked preference for Clinton. Even more significantly, the views of a cadre of campaign donors will remain vital because these supporters could influence whether or not Clinton fights on through the August convention. If angered, this vital Democratic constituency could shut off the flow of funds to the alphabet soup of party organizations that raise money for state and local races.

Lonnie Kaplan, a major fundraiser for Clinton in New Jersey who is also a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said he was angered over the decision not to hold new elections to replace the contested primaries in Florida and Michigan, and that he would be “very upset” if delegates from those states are not seated at the convention in August.

“It’s like giving the death penalty for a speeding ticket,” Kaplan told the Forward, adding that should Clinton fail to win the nomination, his support for Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Senator John McCain would not be a given.

Several other Clinton backers — including, most notably, former DNC chairman Steve Grossman — credited Dean for doing his best to resolve the conflict over delegates in an even-handed manner, and said they were not angry at party leaders, but nonetheless believed that the New York senator should make her case to nearly 800 super-delegates at the August convention, even if, after all primaries are complete, she trails Obama in the popular vote and delegates.

“It would not be right for Clinton to stop or be asked to stop. That’s why we have a convention,” said Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia-based lawyer who serves as a co-chair of Clinton’s Pennsylvania campaign and who has participated in a number of discussions with DNC leaders about the Michigan and Florida delegates. “Who’s afraid of spirited discussions and debates?”

But such bluster, however genuinely felt, is showing signs of cracks even among Clinton loyalists. One major donor, who did not want to be named for fear of alienating the New York senator, said he and many other Clinton supporters were beginning to worry that if a bitter primary extends through the summer, the party may “confront the reality that we’re going to wind up with another extension of the Bush administration.” The donor said he favored rallying behind one nominee or the other in “the middle of June at the latest.”

Michael Adler, a Miami-based businessman who was an early supporter of Bill Clinton in 1992, said he believed the party should follow the example of King Solomon by “splitting the baby” — in this case, delegates from his state — “in half.” While he said he believed in seating the delegates from those two states at the party’s convention, Adler suggested apportioning in a way that would not unduly benefit one candidate or the other: assigning one half of the delegates based on the vote tally from the Florida primary, which Clinton won handily, and assigning the other half based on the final tally of delegates across the country, which Obama now leads.

But asked about the possibility that fellow Clinton backers might contribute to the creation of a stalemate that lasts well into the summer, Alder said he was not overly concerned.

Even though I’m active for Hillary, there will be a time when I would call upon Hillary and I would call upon Obama to find a solution,” Adler said. “But as a businessman, I know deals get cut and you resolve the issues not earlier than they have to be, because why should you prematurely make decisions.”


Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 03/28/2008

Jewish Clinton backers warn Pelosi on meddling

Twelve of the 20 Clinton backers
who warned Nancy Pelosi to keep out of the Democratic presidential primaries are Jewish.

The 20 signatories to the letter sent recently to Pelosi (D-Calif.), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, are major donors to the Democratic Party and strong supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The donors were incensed by a March 16 interview in which Pelosi said that party "superdelegates" should heed the will of the majority in selecting a candidate.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has a nearly insurmountable lead in the pledged delegate count and in the popular vote. But he cannot lock up the nomination because 800 delegates -- split between elected officials and local party leaders, including a handful of party elders -- have unpledged "superdelegate" status.

Early counts showed the superdelegates leaning to Clinton, although in recent months some have switched to Obama as he has taken the lead among pledged delegates.

The donors' letter appears to warn Pelosi that she could lose their support in important congressional elections. "We have been strong supporters of the DCCC," it says, referring to the Democratic congressional elections campaign.

"Superdelegates, like all delegates, have an obligation to make an informed, individual decision about whom to support and who would be the party’s strongest nominee," it says. "Both campaigns agree that at the end of the primary contests neither will have enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination. In that situation, superdelegates must look to not one criterion but to the full panoply of factors that will help them assess who will be the party’s strongest nominee in the general election."

In a statement, Pelosi's office responded: "The speaker believes it would do great harm to the Democratic Party if superdelegates are perceived to overturn the will of the voters. This has been her position throughout this primary season, regardless of who was ahead at any particular point in delegates or votes."

The donors' letter was revealed this week by, an investigative news Web site.

Among the 20 signatories are Haim Saban, the Israeli-born entertainment magnate who is a funder of Middle East peace initiatives; Sim Farar, a media investor known for his closeness to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); Mark Aronchick, a top Philadelphia lawyer; and Alan Patricof, a new media investor.

Pelosi poses with the symbols of Jewish Power


The Jewish Journal, May 31, 2007

Hillary Clinton leads field in attracting Jewish funds

By Ron Kampeas

Obama vs. Clinton is the horse race among Democrats, as the voice of change and the voice of experience pass each other week to week in fundraising and in polls.

Among Jewish Democrats, however, it's no race, insiders in the fundraising community say. While Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has generated considerable excitement, the years Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has spent focusing on Israel and other issues of concern to the nation's largest Jewish community puts her firmly in front.

"It's experience," said Lonnie Kaplan, a major pro-Israel fundraiser. "It's clear to me that she's the best candidate the Democrats have. On domestic issues, they're all the same, but on foreign policy, she has such experience and knowledge and the willingness to act."

Numbers have yet to be properly crunched, but insiders tracking donations say Clinton leads among Jewish donors, especially among those whose emphasis is purely pro-Israel.

"A lot of the candidates are good," said Ben Chouake, a New Jersey doctor who heads NORPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee that brought 700 activists to Washington in early May to lobby for Israel. "But I hope the strongest people on our issue win -- and among Democrats, Hillary Clinton has the strongest record on our issue."

Clinton also leads among Jewish funders who have a range of commitments, in addition to Israel, said Steve Rabinowitz, a top Democratic consultant in Washington.

"The overwhelming amount of the establishment money is with Hillary," Rabinowitz said, in part because her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is such a well-known quantity. "Hillary is in a special situation -- her longstanding relationship with the community, her husband's relationship with the community, her husband's fundraising prowess."

However, Obama is making significant inroads, and Rabinowitz said he may pose a significant challenge to Clinton among the Jewish grass roots.

"The phenomenon that is Obama has certainly penetrated the Jewish community," he said. "Among small givers, first-time givers, rank-and-file supporters, there's tremendous interest in Obama."

Major Jewish donors also are backing former Democratic Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and second tier of candidates, including Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, because of their loyalty to Israel and Jewish issues over the years. Richardson had a solid pro-Israel record during the 1980s and early 1990s when he was a congressman.

Michael Adler, a South Florida developer who is chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Committee (NJDC), is leading the Jewish backing for Biden. Marc Stanley, NJDC deputy chairman from Austin, Texas, leads Jewish fundraising for fellow trial lawyer Edwards. Micah Green, former head of the Bond Market Association, backs Dodd, who is known for his closeness to bankers. Steve Bittel, a South Florida mortgager in the petroleum business, is in Richardson's camp.

Stanley said Edwards, who has boned up on foreign policy since his 2004 run for vice president on the ticket of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is appealing to Jewish funders because of his domestic emphasis on alleviating poverty, a key issue for Jewish philanthropists.

"If you listen to what John Edwards says, he's advocating tikkun olam," the Jewish concept of repairing the world, Stanley said, rattling off a long list of Jewish backers he has successfully solicited.

Support for the longer shots is expected and even welcome, according to those backing the front-runners.

"They are all people who in their congressional careers have been partners with the American Jewish community," said Steve Grossman, a Boston-based marketing magnate who is Clinton's principal Jewish backer. "So it's appropriate that leaders of the American Jewish community support these candidates, even if the conventional wisdom says they may not have a great chance."

Rabinowitz raised another motive: Longer shots offer bigger rewards if they defy expectations and win.

"There's a motivation among some to not go with the front-runner because it'll be a bigger payoff," he said.

Obama has encountered difficulties with establishment givers because of his approach to the Middle East. He says frankly that Israel also must contribute to reviving the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

Peace cannot be achieved "at the price of compromising Israel's security, and the United States government and an Obama presidency cannot ask Israel to take risks with respect to its security," he said last month at an NJDC forum for presidential candidates. "But it can ask Israel to say that it is still possible for us to allow more than just this status quo of fear, terror, division."

That should not turn off Jewish support, said Alan Solomont, a Boston venture capitalist and philanthropist who is Obama's principal fundraiser.

"We've heard for some years that George Bush was the greatest friend that Israel ever had," Solomont said. "Let's not forget that some people were sold that phony bill of goods. He has made an outrageous mess of the situation in the Middle East that is clearly dangerous to the United States and to Israel."

Obama's promise of change trumps Clinton's experience, Solomont said.

"People are looking for someone with new ideas who will challenge the status quo," he said. "That's why he's attractive to the Jewish community elsewhere. This isn't to diminish Hillary Clinton's competence or leadership in any way, but there's no one who hasn't seen Barack Obama and not felt moved and energized and good that this guy's running for president."

Yet it is Clinton's determined cultivation of the Jewish community that pushes her ahead, and not just because she represents the nation's largest Jewish community in New York.

Clinton has spent her six years in the Senate reaching out to Jewish groups on nearly every domestic and foreign issue that the community embraces. She was a leader in getting homeland security funds to Jewish institutions and has taken the lead in demanding changes in Palestinian textbooks that would reflect the reality of Israel's existence.

She makes a point of speaking to national Jewish groups that hold conferences in Washington before delegates ascend to the Hill to lobby.

Clinton's relative hawkishness doesn't hurt her with Jewish donors the way it has afflicted her appeal to the Democratic Party's left. No one says it outright, but her readiness in 2002 to back President Bush on the Iraq War stands her in good stead with pro-Israel givers who want an American leader who would back a military strike against Iran if nothing else succeeds in dissuading it from pursuing nuclear weapons -- the "willingness to act" to which Kaplan alluded.

Clinton also has years of domestic policy experience on her side, Grossman said, noting the resonance that her premier issue -- health care -- has among Jews.

"The great unfinished agenda has been uninsured American families, women and children," he said. "That's a cause to which Hillary Clinton has devoted her life and career."


The Washington Times, Hillary, March 14

Hillary, Obama woo Jewish vote

Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are going head to head for the money and backing of Jewish voters, trying to woo them by asserting their support for Israel and concern about Iran.

The senators held dueling receptions at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference Monday night even though neither formally addressed one of the most influential lobbying groups in the nation.

"I need your help," Mrs. Clinton told the hundreds packed into her dessert-and-coffee reception Monday night after an AIPAC gala dinner.

In her brief remarks, Mrs. Clinton said lawmakers must "try to figure out how to exercise leverage to prevent [Iran] from becoming a nuclear power" and that the U.S. should "exert pressure" on the Iranian government and make sure sanctions are both clear and enforced.

"Israel's freedom, Israel's democracy must be protected," Mrs. Clinton told the cheering crowd.

A few doors down, AIPAC attendees flooded an Obama reception but quickly left after he finished speaking, rushing to hear what the former first lady had to say.

Several AIPAC attendees said Mr. Obama appeals to them because of his anti-war stance -- he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, while Mrs. Clinton voted to give President Bush war authority -- but noted he remains an unknown entity on foreign relations compared with his top rival for the Democratic nomination for 2008.

Mr. Obama gave a major address earlier this month at the AIPAC policy conference in Chicago, outlining his positions on Israel.

"Our job is to never forget that the threat of violence is real. Our job is to renew the effort to help Israel achieve peace with its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do not share this vision," he said at the March 3 conference.

"Our job is to do more than lay out another road map; our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region."

"That effort begins with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy," Mr. Obama said.

But some at AIPAC this week grumbled about comments the Illinois senator made about Palestinians recently in Iowa.

"Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people," Mr. Obama said, according to the Des Moines Register. "If we could get some movement among Palestinian leadership, what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people."

In the same appearance, Mr. Obama insisted that Israel must remain an ally and said the U.S. has a "huge strategic stake in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict," between the two nations, according to the Register.

The threat of a nuclear Iran and the prolonged war in Iraq has many AIPAC members worried and makes Jewish voters even more important.

"Never before have my interests as a supporter of Israel and my interests as an American been so closely aligned," said Lloyd P. Levin, a mortgage broker from Milwaukee. "No thinking American wants Iran to become a nuclear power."

Though Mrs. Clinton won Monday's popularity contest, the Democrats don't have the market on this voting bloc.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani tops a list compiled by an Israeli newspaper, ranking above all the other 2008 candidates for his stance on Jewish issues, and the Republican is a favorite candidate among Jewish voters.

"Israel and the security of Israel is pivotal and it will have a direct impact on the security of the United States," said Julie Brown, a delegate to AIPAC from Los Angeles. "The candidates recognize the importance of that and the impact the Jewish vote will have on the election."

Miss Brown predicted Jewish voters will be interested in Mr. Giuliani because of his liberal social views and strong record on Israel. He is friends with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Democrat Fran Fine said she isn't 100 percent sold on Mrs. Clinton because she likes Mr. Obama and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., but noted: "I liked what I heard from her husband."

"This country was very safe when Bill Clinton was president, and their views on foreign policy are the same when it comes to Israel," said Ms. Fine, a lawyer from Henderson, Nev.

Many attendees said they were familiar with the Clinton position and wanted to see a new face.

"I've been to this thing four times and I've never seen this kind of electricity," real estate lawyer Jerry Slusky said of Mr. Obama. "Hillary is OK, but she's no rock star."

Mr. Slusky made his observation before dinner, before security had to turn away overflow crowds from the Clinton reception owing to a fire hazard.

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, in a feature on the 2008 candidates, has Mr. Giuliani at the top, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican Sen. John McCain, Mrs. Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Sen. Sam Brownback and with Mr. Obama last, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mr. Brownback, Kansas Republican, also had a big draw as the only Republican hosting a reception at AIPAC Monday. Several praised him as strong on Israel, and noted his appeal to Orthodox Jews.

Mr. Biden, Delaware Democrat, told his reception attendees: "We need Israel in the Middle East as much as Israel needs us," and praised the country for being a democratic beacon.

Jewish voters are estimated to be 2 to 3 percent of the electorate.


Jewish News of Greater Phoenix Online, February 1, 2008, Volume 60, No. 23

Hillary Clinton: Israel connection

By Susie Stern and Steve Grossman

In February 2002, after 9/11 and during the worst of the second intifada, very few visitors were going to Israel. One who did was Hillary Clinton

Visiting Magen David Adom, she met an Israeli soldier in his early 20s named Natan, an Ethiopian Jew who had jumped on a terrorist carrying a bag full of explosives. Natan had miraculously survived the explosion that, but for his extraordinary heroism, would have killed many Israelis.

Deeply moved by his courage, Sen. Clinton invited Natan to walk with her in the next Salute to Israel Parade in New York. Months later, they did just that.

So when Hillary takes the lead in fighting anti-Israel discrimination of all kinds, including her successful advocacy of Magen David Adom's right to be included in the International Red Cross, it is not some mere political gesture. It is a cause she holds deep in her heart, having seen firsthand the struggles of the Israeli people.

Her gut-level commitment took her on that same trip to the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem after the suicide bombing there. She then brought the press with her to Hadassah Hospital to visit the victims of that horrible attack and to show the world the terror inflicted upon Israelis.

Susie, who accompanied Sen. Clinton on that trip, went with her to the hospital and still remembers vividly how Hillary talked privately with victims and their families to counsel them on how to make their lives whole after such devastating terror. Susie also was with the senator in 2005, when, while inspecting the security fence at Gilo, she looked up at an adjacent apartment pockmarked with bullet holes and landscaped not with flowers and shrubs but with sandbags to protect its residents.

She observed emotionally, "No one should ever have to be afraid in their own home."

Hillary has not been content to settle for routine affirmation of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and its right to self-defense. She repeatedly has defended Israel's security fence as an effective deterrent to the very kind of terrorist bombings she saw the results of in 2002. She also stands with Elie Wiesel in exposing anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitic language in Palestinian schools and textbooks.

She has not simply called on the international community to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton voted in the Senate to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization - notwithstanding the fact that every single one of her Democratic opponents in the presidential campaign subsequently would try to use the vote against her.

In her domestic agenda as well, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated a lifetime of leadership on issues of concern to the American Jewish community. Her values embody the Jewish commitment to social and economic justice best articulated in Deuteronomy 16:20, which says tzedek tzedek tirdo - "justice, justice shall thou pursue."

That's why she was the first presidential candidate to propose an economic stimulus plan to fight the looming recession. That's why she has fought long and hard for health-care reform ensuring that all Americans have the care they need and deserve. That's why she has fought for equal pay for women and for a woman's right to choose. That's why she believes America's future demands greater educational opportunities for all children and for making a college education more affordable and more accessible.

There is a close bond with Israel in this as well. In 1985, while the first lady of Arkansas, Hillary learned about an innovative Israeli preschool education program created by Hebrew University and worked tirelessly to bring the initiative to her state. The Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, or HIPPY, which guides parents in being their children's first teachers, was so successful that Hillary worked with the National Council of Jewish Women to implement it in other states.

When then-Gov. Bill Clinton addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference in 1989, he told Steve: "You really should have invited Hillary. She's the one who has the real connection to Israel."

Perhaps no passage better describes Hillary Clinton's values and vision for what we as a nation can achieve together than Isaiah 58, the Haftarah passage Jews all over the world read on Yom Kippur morning: "If you offer your compassion to the hungry and relieve the oppressed, then shall your light shine in darkness and your gloom shall be like noonday." It goes on to say, "And you will be known as the rebuilder of ancient walls, the restorer of dwelling places, the repairer of the breach."

This is Hillary Clinton. This is what she stands for. And this is why Jews and all Americans should join in making her the next president of the United States.


Susie Stern is the immediate past chair of the board of UJA-Federation of New York and immediate past president of the National Women's Philanthropy of United Jewish Communities. Steve Grossman is a past president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. 

These opinion pieces appear courtesy of JTA.


The Times Online, April 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton threatens to 'obliterate' Iran if Israel attacked

By Tim Reid in Philadelphia and Tom Baldwin

Hillary Clinton today threatened to “obliterate” Iran if it launched a nuclear attack on Israel
, her most aggressive rhetoric yet against Tehran as she seeks to cast doubts on whether Barack Obama would be a strong commander-in-chief.

Mrs Clinton made her remarks as a record number of primary voters descended on voting stations in Pennsylvania for its potentially pivotal primary, the first contest in her marathon nominating battle with Mr Obama for six weeks.


Mrs Clinton, who on Monday released a television commercial using images of Osama bin Laden that ended with the question “Who do you think has what it takes?” made her comments about Iran during an interview with ABC.

I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran,” she said after being asked what she would do if Iran launched a nuclear attack on Israel. “In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

Mrs Clinton, who last month even said that John McCain, the Republican nominee-elect, was more qualified than Mr Obama to be commander-in-chief, appeared to be drawing a contrast between the Illinois senator’s stance on Iran. He has said he would open talks with the Iranian leadership.


The Jewish Daily Forward, Apr 24, 2008

Middle East Policy Emerges as Wedge Issue in Clinton’s Pennsylvania Win

By Jennifer Siegel

Senator Hillary Clinton captured 62% of Jewish voters in Pennsylvania on her way to defeating Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama in the Keystone State’s April 22 primary. The win represents Clinton’s strongest showing among Jewish Democrats, aside from an earlier contest in her home state of New York.

While the Pennsylvania results do little to alter the pragmatic realities of the primary race, which remains steeply tilted in Obama’s favor, they suggest the Illinois senator could face difficulty with some Jewish voters should he clinch the nomination. In recent weeks, both Democratic contenders have courted Pennsylvania’s Jewish community aggressively, with Obama struggling to dispel concerns about his relationship with his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Less noticed, but with potentially broader implications for a November match-up with Republican John McCain, Middle East policy emerged as a wedge issue between the two Democrats, with Clinton employing increasingly heated rhetoric on Iran and working to present herself as a more vociferous defender of Israel.

Clinton has been arguing that Obama “is, in a nutshell, too inexperienced and too naive for the role of commander in chief — it’s clear that’s the message,” said Ben Chouake, who heads the New Jersey-based pro-Israel political action committee Norpac. “There are now Democrats who tell me that they’re voting for McCain in the general election — people who I could never, never imagine voting for a Republican and who would not vote for McCain if Clinton were running.”

Overall, white Democrats favored Clinton 65% to Obama’s 35%, according to exit polling conducted for the National Election Pool by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Clinton performed especially well among Catholics, whose support for her hit 70%, while Protestants backed Clinton by a margin of 55% to 45%.

Pennsylvania’s Jewish voters, accounting for 8% of the total primary electorate, split 62% to 38% in Clinton’s favor, a margin that some local observers say reflects lingering concerns over Obama’s potential policies in the Middle East and his relationship with Wright.

“I think it’s temporary, but I think positions did harden over the last few weeks,” said Betsy Sheerr, a Philadelphia-based Jewish communal activist who is supporting Clinton. “I think the undecided Jewish voters broke for Hillary because of a sense of uncertainty about whether they could really trust Obama.”

Pennsylvania’s contest is the last time Obama will face a significant number of Jewish voters before a potential general election run. In previous primaries that included sizable Jewish populations — the Super Tuesday contests February 5 — some in the Jewish community also speculated that the Illinois senator would do poorly among Jewish voters, in part because of an e-mail smear campaign that falsely claimed he is secretly a Muslim and objections raised about some of his foreign policy advisers.

Instead, Obama captured the majority of Jewish voters in Connecticut and Massachusetts, a state he did not carry overall, while Clinton captured the largest slice of the Jewish vote, 65%, in her home state of New York and beat him by relatively smaller margins in New Jersey, California and Arizona, states she won overall. In Florida’s contested January primary, for which party rules permitted neither candidate to campaign, Clinton captured 58% of the Jewish vote.

While both Clinton and Obama have aggressively courted Jewish voters throughout the campaign — presenting themselves as staunch allies of Israel and vowing, as president, to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons — Clinton took a notably more hawkish tone on Tehran in the homestretch before the Pennsylvania primary. A pivotal moment came during an April 16 debate sponsored by ABC News in Philadelphia, when the Democratic contenders were asked if they would treat an “Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the United States.” While Obama vowed to “take appropriate action” on behalf of America’s “strongest ally in the region,” Clinton said she “would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States.”

In a subsequent interview aired by ABC’s “Good Morning America” on April 22, Clinton took her rhetoric one step further.

I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran,” she said, referring to her response to a hypothetical attack on Israel. “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

The growing difference in tone among the Democratic contenders did not go unnoticed by Obama supporters, who began to argue that it reflected positively on the Illinois senator. One recent e-mail alert sent by Gidon D. Remba, a veteran Israeli activist who recently started an independent e-newsletter called Jews for Obama, derided what he called Clinton’s strategy of “gonzo ‘deterrence.’”

Other communal observers, unaligned with either campaign, said that Clinton’s hawkish rhetoric on Iran could hurt her with Jewish liberals.

“As an individual, I’m greatly more concerned about her than I was two weeks ago,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a left-wing activist and rabbi who heads the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center but spoke to the Forward only in his capacity as an individual voter. “She thinks the Jewish community is ready to obliterate Iran, and she’s ready to say that she’s willing to obliterate Iran.”

In recent days, Obama has stressed diplomacy on the campaign trail. During a campaign stop in Reading, Pa., on April 20, the Illinois senator criticized both President George W. Bush and former president Bill Clinton for putting off their attempts to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Bill Clinton did it in his last year, and he ran out of time,” Obama told the audience.

In the wake of Pennsylvania’s contest, several Jewish insiders had differing opinions on whether Obama, who for now remains the likely Democratic nominee, might face a challenge in clinching the Jewish vote come November.

New York Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said he viewed a serious Jewish problem for Obama as a remote possibility. “We tend to follow the rest of the population overall, except that in general elections we follow the Eleventh Commandment, which is, ‘Thou shall vote Democratic — except under certain circumstances,’” Sheinkopf said. “So it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Jews do not favor the Democratic nominee, even if it may be Barack Obama.” - Israel News, 01.27.2007

Barack and Hillary: Can Israel rely on either?

By Rabbi Levi Brackman

We simply cannot afford to allow a person with incoherent, weak and inconsistent views on national security and foreign policy to become the Democrats' presidential nominee

This week three prominent Jews from Hollywood, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, decided to host a fundraiser for Illinois Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama. According to some reports George Soros is backing him as well. This is not a coincidence: all three of these Hollywood heavyweights were ardent supporters of Hillary Clinton. This spawns the following question: which of these two Democratic Presidential frontrunners will be more effective in the struggle against terrorism and Iranian nuclear ambitions and which will be a more reliable supporter of Israeli security?

There is little doubt that since entering the Senate Hillary Clinton has been a staunch supporter of Israel and for that she deserves credit and appreciation from Jews. Some have put a question mark regarding her motives. However whichever way one wants to put it, it is extremely difficult to find in Hilary Clinton’s published remarks anything but complete and total support for Israel’s continued safety and security.

The difficulty some have with Hilary is her husband former President Bill. Yasser Arafat was a regular guest at Bill Clinton’s White House and he used extreme pressure to get Israel to make concessions that were clearly not in her long term interests. During his second term in office Bill Clinton seemed to care more about creating his legacy than about the risks his ideas posed to Israeli security. Indeed it is Bill Clinton that must take some of the blame for the second intifada and the suicide bombings and killing of innocents that followed.

Sincere support for Israel

As recently as last year during the Lebanon war against Hizbullah Bill Clinton stated that Israel was using disproportionate force and wanted a quick ceasefire. Whether Hillary sincerely disagrees with Bill’s views regarding Israel’s national defense strategies is an open question. To her credit however, she has stated publicly that she disagreed with Bill regarding both his reluctance to use force and his lack of support for Israel. On March 21, 1999 she urged Bill to bomb the Serbians: “You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?” she told him. The next day Clinton declared that force was necessary.

In October 2000 she urged her husband to veto a one sided and unfair UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s response to Palestinian protests. She said that Bill Clinton ignored her advice and the US just abstained instead. Hillary Clinton also voted for the war in Iraq and, as of yet, has not called for a timetable for troop withdrawal despite the pressure to do so. One must conclude that there is little basis on which to doubt Hillary Clinton’s sincere support for and dedication to Israel’s safety and security and her determination and strength when it comes to national security and defense.

The story with Barack Obama is very different. Although he has visited Israel and spoken in support of US commitment to Israeli security, his view of foreign policy and national security is troubling - not least as evidenced by the incoherent treatment of it in his bestselling book “The Audacity of Hope”.

Iraq was not imminent threat in Obama's eyes

In the chapter entitled, “The world Beyond Our Borders” he states that he did not support the invasion of Iraq from the outset because—quoting from a speech he gave at the time—he knew that, “even a successful war against Iraq will require US occupation of undetermined length, and undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.”

Most experts at the time thought that in a post 9/11 world a combination of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and weapons of mass destruction (and at the time every intelligence agency in the world thought they had them) was a real threat to the world. However Obama nonetheless thought that if the cost, length and consequences are undetermined (which incidentally is the case regarding all wars) then the war should not be undertaken. Later on in the same chapter he argues the exact opposite point: “We have the right to take unilateral military action to eliminate an imminent threat to our security—so long as an imminent threat is understood to be a nation, group, or individual that is actively preparing to strike US targets, and has or will have the means to do so in the immediate future.”

He goes on to say that al-Qaeda poses an imminent threat but Saddam Hussein’s Iraq did not. With hindsight one can say anything; however the fact is that at the time most experts thought that Saddam Husain did pose an imminent threat and that he possessed both the intent and the weapons to attack us either on his own or by using a proxy. Furthermore Obama writes that one of the United States’ strategic goals in Iraq must be to ensure that it does not become a base for terrorist activity. Nonetheless a few lines later he advocates a phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq to begin at the end of last year. The judgment as to how quickly this could be accomplished, he writes, must be based on “a series of best guesses”.

Jews can't afford an inconsistent nominee

The stakes in Iraq at the moment are very high and they have a direct bearing on the United States and world security. For a presidential candidate to advocate betting world and US security on a series of “best guesses” is frightening. From reading his book one must conclude that Barack Obama is a wonderful person whose heart is in the right place. He deserves respect, and indeed he could make a wonderful peacetime president.

However the next US President will have to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, which will impact Israel first and then the entire world. At this point we simply cannot afford to allow a person with incoherent, weak and inconsistent views on national security and foreign policy to become the presidential nominee of a major political party in the United States.

I do not mean to endorse Hillary Clinton as president - it may well be that the Republicans have an even stronger candidate. However, I sincerely hope that the prominent Jews who are contemplating throwing their support behind Barack Obama read the part of his book which deals with foreign policy and national security very carefully first.


Rabbi Levi Brackman is executive director of Judaism in the Foothills and the author of numerous articles on a whole range of topics and issues, many of which can be found on his website

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