If Hillary Clinton is hoping to fire up the excitement of the far Left base, this certainly isn’t going to score her any points. The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) against Israel and in support of the Palestinians is a huge thing in the deeper recesses of the liberal culture, being particularly rampant on college campuses where they have been pushing universities to divest from Israel faster than coal investments. It hasn’t met with a particularly significant success rate beyond some cosmetic measures, but it’s still a very big bone for progressives to chew on. So all of those fired up college kids are going to be rather disappointed to find out about this letter from the presumptive Democrat nominee to a major donor.
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.
So what is making Clinton so brave in the face of a backlash from the progressive base? Isn’t she worried that this is just one more issue where she’s going to be outflanked by Bernie Sanders and swell his growing crowds even further? Nope. She actually has nothing to worry about at all, so she can afford to camp out with the big donors on this one. Sanders is already known (and criticized) on the Left for his failure to be sufficiently anti-Israel.
The scene at the town hall in the village of Cabot, Vermont last summer was chaotic : First came a question about Israel’s ongoing bombings in Gaza; then an interruption from audience members angry at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Another interruption followed. And then, onstage, Senator Bernie Sanders, sleeves rolled to his elbows, shouted at a constituent to shut up.
Tens of thousands have viewed a video of the August 2014 confrontation on YouTube. Sanders has been excoriated on some left-wing blogs for the outburst, which many see as a sign of his enduring support for Israel.
Aaron Keyak, a Democratic political consultant, was quoted afterward as saying that Sanders is, “a typical pro-Israel Jewish Democrat.” And if the issue angered Sanders enough to go full Chris Christie on a young voter and tell them to sit down and shut up, he’s probably locked down pretty tightly on the issue.
Just for background, Sanders is Jewish and even spent some time working on a kibbutz in Israel in the sixties. He’s given some fairly passionate speeches on the evils of Hamas and warning about the dangers to freedom, etc. if Israel were to fall. I don’t imagine the BDS movement is going to be recruiting him any time soon.
So this isn’t as bold of a move for Hillary – or really a risk of any sort – as it might first appear. The BDS Left will all be essentially told to sit down and shut up this election cycle as they will have no candidate who supports their goals.This isn’t shocking in the least, either. Both parties court the Jewish vote every season. Despite the feelings of many conservatives that the GOP is a natural home for Jewish voters, given the Republicans’ vocal support of Israel, the Democrats still carry a massive percentage of that demographic. If you ever figure that particular mystery out, drop me a note. I’d love to know the answer.