It is no surprise that folks are already inking in Hillary Clinton’s name as the top pick for the Democratic party’s nominee for president in 2016. But it is, perhaps, surprising that even top Republicans are anticipating not just a run, but are predicting that Clinton will be unbeatable.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, December 9. He and others on the program predicted it would be “virtually impossible” for any Democrat to beat Clinton in the race to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.
Gingrich told viewers there might be another familiar name on the ballot in 2016 – he was speaking about former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. If that happens, everyone will be able to re-use their political buttons from old campaigns – President George H.W. Bush ran against Bill Clinton in 1992. That time around Clinton was considered by almost all pro-Israel supporters as the candidate more favorable for Israel.
Clinton’s approval ratings have always been high amongst American Jews – this was true even after the infamous “Suha Smooch.”
Back in November, 1999, Hillary Clinton was seated on the stage next to the wife of the Palestinian Liberation Organization president Yasir Arafat, when Suha Arafat gave a speech. In that speech Mrs. Arafat claimed that Israelis used toxic chemicals daily to poison ‘Palestinian’ women and children. Although Mrs. Clinton had a simultaneous translation as the speech was given, when Arafat finished speaking, Mrs. Clinton stood up, then kissed and embraced Arafat.
That embrace became the star of the first-ever airing of a television ad paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Clinton’s misstep initially cost her with the Jewish community, but she recovered and went on to become a two-term U.S. Senator from New York.
And just as the vast majority of American Jews forgave Clinton for the Suha Smooch, it should surprise few that the vast majority of American Jews paid little mind to words she uttered last week at the Saban Forum hosted by the Brookings Institution, held in Washington, D.C.
Secretary of State Clinton was the keynote speaker at the Saban Forum on November 30. In her speech, Clinton extolled the virtues of the U.S. administration’s relationship with Israel and reiterated the campaign talking points describing this administration as Israel’s best friend.
During the unscripted question and answer session, Clinton charged the Israelis – the Jewish people – with not understanding or feeling the pain of an oppressed people. She responded to a query raised by Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan regarding the suspicious nature of Israelis:
So, look, I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.
Clinton also subtly criticized Israel’s retention of tax funds collected by Israel and earmarked for the Palestinian Authority. The money was withheld as a small step towards covering the gross delinquency in payment by the PA to Israel for its electricity consumption.
Clinton described Israel’s decision to withhold those funds as an indication of Israel’s lack of generosity, “I think that the more generous Israel can be on everything from expediting the tax revenues that Israel collects and then remits to the ‘Palestinians,’” the closer it will bring peace to the region. Clinton described the PA as not only moderate and secular, but as also successful and having “accomplished quite a bit” with “very little money,” and “no natural resources.” The billions of dollars in international aid received by the PA over the years apparently did not factor into her evaluation.
Few doubt that Clinton will seek her party’s nomination in 2016. And fewer still should doubt that American Jews will ignore the Saban Smackdown, just as they ignored the Suha Smooch.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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