Clinton and Israel: No doubts about her support


aipac confab hillaryHow can you tell when a national campaign season is heating up?

Easy: The conversation on cable talk shows gets even more partisan and Hillary Clinton’s opponents try to raise doubts about her support for Israel.

Now, dialing up the partisan edge on cable TV doesn’t require much twisting – but trying to dismiss Clinton’s pro-Israel record? That calls for real gymnastics.

Let’s look at the facts: In eight years as a senator, Clinton worked consistently and effectively for Israel’s security. She traveled to Jerusalem during the second Intifada, spoke at the site of a bombed pizzeria and visited with victims of terrorist attacks. She spoke for Israel’s right to build the security fence, and she spoke out in the Senate about the dangers of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic biases in textbooks used in Palestinian schools.

She led the fight to force admission of Magen David Adom as a full voting member of the International Red Cross, building a bipartisan coalition for legislation that tied America’s contribution to the IRC to Israel’s admission. She was a cosponsor of legislation like the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act and the Syrian Accountability Act.

As secretary of state, Clinton built the international coalition that enacted the toughest sanctions against Iran in history, forcing the regime into negotiations about its nuclear program. “Iran can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon,” she said in April, speaking of what is at stake in the negotiations. “The onus is on Iran, and the bar must be set high.”

Throughout her time at the State Department, she worked closely with the government of Israel, including almost daily coordination on security issues.

Israel’s defense minister said the administration was “doing in regard to our security more than anything I can remember in the past.”

She condemned the U.N. Human Rights Council for its structural bias against Israel. In November 2012, after eight days of violence, she negotiated a cease-fire in Gaza, by working with Israeli leaders and the government of Egypt. She understands that direct talks between Israel and Palestinians are essential for a peaceful resolution, one that enables Israel to maintain defensible borders and advance its national interests.

That record comes as no surprise to people who know her.  We know that Clinton, who made her first trip to Israel in 1981, has a background of friendship and admiration for Israel and its people.

Before she was ever a candidate for office, Clinton learned about a program developed at Hebrew University that offered early childhood education to disadvantaged families. She reached out to its creator and then worked with the National Council of Jewish Women to bring the concept to the United States.  Today that program, developed in Israel, can be found in 21 states.

That’s one of my favorite examples of Clinton’s record: Effective action on behalf of life-long principles, like investing in children; supporting Israel, as an ally with shared values and a source of good ideas; and working to ensure Israel’s security and to maintain a strong U.S.-Israel relationship because she recognizes the importance to both our countries.

As she said at the Saban Forum in Washington fewer than three years ago, “Americans honor Israel as a homeland dreamed of for generations, and finally achieved by pioneering men and women in my lifetime. We share bedrock beliefs in freedom, equality, democracy and the right to live without fear. What threatens Israel threatens America, and what strengthens Israel strengthens us.”

As I write this, I have just returned from a visit to Israel. And when my friends asked me what’s happening in American politics, I was proud to talk about my support for Clinton.

Ann F. Lewis served as senior adviser in the 2008 Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, where she oversaw outreach to women voters, and was a member of the communications team.

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