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Clinton Campaign Chairman Refutes Claims She Will Be 'Worse Than Obama' on Israel

In leaked email correspondence with his daughter, John Podesta reassures that the Democratic candidate is 'totally committed to Israeli security.'

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the W Hotel in New York, September 25, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the W Hotel in New York, September 25, 2016.Credit: Kobi Gideon, GPO

Contrasting Hillary Clinton’s relations with Israel favorably with U.S. President Barack Obama’s “real feud” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton’s campaign head John Podesta reassured his daughter after she told him she was hearing concerns regarding Clinton and the Jewish state.

The May 2015 exchange between Podesta and his daughter, Megan Rouse, was among the email correspondence released on Wednesday by WikiLeaks, hacked from Podesta’s Gmail account.

In the email to her father, Rouse wrote: “I've heard a concern from some folks who care deeply about Israel that Hillary will be the president ‘most unfriendly to Israel in our history, worse than Obama.’ Thoughts on how I might respond in conversation?”

Podesta reassured her: “That's a bit crazy. Obama developed a real feud with Bibi [Netanyahu], but she has been a staunch defender of Israel since her Senate days. Probably her very best supporters are Haim Saban, and Danny Abraham who would not be with her if she wasn't totally committed to Israeli security.”

The two Clinton supporters Podesta mentioned are Jewish billionaires with close ties to Israel. Daniel Abraham is a businessman and philanthropist who made his fortune as founder of Slim-Fast food products and founded the Center for Middle East Peace. Abraham was closely tied to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently serving jail time for accepting bribes.

Saban is a media mogul and philanthropist with business interests in both America and Israel, has been close to the Clintons for over 20 years, and is one of the biggest and most reliable donors to both Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns and the Clintons’ philanthropic organization. He speaks frequently on Clinton’s behalf in the Israeli media and recently flew former President Bill Clinton to Israel for Shimon Peres’ funeral on his private jet.  

The Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks have revealed in recent days that Saban does far more than write checks – he is in close touch with the campaign on an ongoing basis, frequently participating in policy discussions with senior campaign officials, especially – though not exclusively – in relation to the Middle East, often suggesting more Israeli-style combative approaches that do not mesh with the more cautious Clinton style.

In a February 2016 email with the subject line “Bernie’s Lies,” released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday, Saban suggested – using colorful language – that Clinton more aggressively combat her primary opponent Bernie Sanders who accused her of being in the pocket of political PACS when he had taken money from them as well.

Saban wrote: “Call me stupid but you don't shred him on the below, in simple easy to understand one liner emotion-triggering one liner[s], are much more compelling for the majority of voters Simple arrow the heart and the brain and up his butt.”

The suggestion was rejected by Clinton’s communications chief Jennifer Palmieri who said “We have gamed out this hit and don't think it works on debate stage.”

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