Hillary Clinton has penned a letter to mega-donor Haim Saban and Jewish organization leaders expressing her strong and unequivocal support for Israel in the face of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, known as “BDS.”
“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority,” she writes, asking for aid working “across party lines” to “fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel.”
The former secretary of state has pushed foreign policy to the backburner so far in her presidential campaign, focusing instead on domestic economic issues. But her letter comes as she has tread carefully while discussing the negotiations over a nuclear deal with Iran — something Jewish donors and supporters of Israel are watching closely.
On Saturday, speaking at a campaign rally in Hanover, New Hampshire, Clinton said she supported President Barack Obama’s Iran deal, but said even with a deal, Iran remains a problem. “They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism,” she said. “They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and create insurgencies to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel.”
The letter, dated July 2, was sent to Saban, a longtime Clinton donor and an owner of Univision, as well as to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, a campaign spokeswoman said.
BDS, Clinton writes, “seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. This is not the path to peace.”
Clinton reiterates her support of a two-state solution, but says “that outcome can only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians — it cannot be imposed from the outside or by unilateral actions.”
Clinton says she is also concerned by comparisons of Israel to South African apartheid. “Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival,” she writes. “Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world — especially in Europe — we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
In the letter, she also reminds the recipients that as a U.S. senator and secretary of state she opposed “dozens of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN…and other international organizations.” She writes that she supported Israel after the Goldstone Report. “Time after time I have made it clear that America will always stand up for Israel — and that’s what I’ll always do as President,” she writes.
Saban hosted a fundraiser for Clinton at his Los Angeles home in May. He also co-hosted a summit in Las Vegas last month with Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, for pro-Israel activists and leaders to discuss the issue of BDS on college campuses.
Clinton, in the letter, calls the Jewish State a “modern day miracle — a vibrant bloom in the middle of a desert” and recalls how she fell in love with the people and the country during her first visit there 30 years ago with Bill Clinton.
In the version sent to Saban, she ended the letter, printed on campaign letterhead, with a hand-written note — “look forward to working with you on this.”