Politics

Clinton Confidante Worked to Discredit Netanyahu, ‘Neocons’

Emails reveal attempt to boost J Street

Sidney Blumenthal / Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal ordered the former secretary of state to publicly praise an anti-Israel fringe group in order to give it "credibility" and help discredit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. "neocons," according to a batch of newly released emails sent to Clinton’s private address.

Blumenthal, a longtime friend of the Clintons who advised Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign, directed the former secretary of state to publicly praise J Street during a speech before supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the country’s top pro-Israel lobbying group.

In an email sent to Clinton’s private account on March 21, 2010, Blumenthal urges Clinton to praise J Street in order to discredit Netanyahu, U.S. neoconservatives, and AIPAC itself, which Blumenthal refers to as an "organ of the Israeli right."

The newly released correspondence shines a light on Obama administration moves to isolate pro-Israel forces and boost efforts by a large network of left-leaning anti-Israel organizations.

"Perhaps most controversial," Blumenthal writes, "I would argue something you should do is that, while praising AIPAC, remind it in as subtle but also direct a way as you can that it does not have a monopoly over American Jewish opinion."

"Bibi [Netanyahu] is stage managing US Jewish organizations (and neocons, and the religious right, and whomever else he can muster) against the administration," Blumenthal writes. "AIPAC itself has become an organ of the Israeli right, specifically Likud," the conservative Israeli political party.

"By acknowledging J Street you give them legitimacy, credibility and create room within the American Jewish community for debate supportive of the administration’s pursuit of the peace process," Blumenthal adds. "Just by mentioning J Street in passing, AIPAC becomes a point on the spectrum, not the controller of the spectrum."

Blumenthal's memo came at Clinton's request despite previous claims by Clinton that his advice was "unsolicited."

"I have to speak to AIPAC tomorrow," Clinton writes in an email sent earlier that day, asking Blumenthal if she should mention "private" analysis by Israeli scholar Uri Avnery, who is a fierce critic of Israel's current policies and right-wing government.

"I will send you a memo this morning," Blumenthal responds.

The memo from Blumenthal did not come for several hours that morning, prompting another email from Clinton asking whether he was "still sending." The memo urging praise for J Street came shortly after.

J Street has come under intense fire from the mainstream pro-Israel community for supporting policies they say are dangerous to the Jewish state.

J Street has accused the Israeli government of "fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism" and congressmen on Capitol Hill backed by the group have refused to support funding for critical military hardware, such as the Iron Dome system that destroys terrorist rockets.

Blumenthal, whose son Max authored a notoriously anti-Israel book, goes on to recommend language that Clinton can use to bolster J Street.

"Only through the marketplace of ideas will sound policies to help resolve complicated and seemingly intransigent problems be developed," Blumenthal recommends Clinton say. "This administration values everybody’s views. They are important. You are important."

"We welcome views across the spectrum, from AIPAC to J Street. All these views are legitimate and must be heard and considered," he continues.

Blumenthal has come under fire in the past for hosting a book party to celebrate his son Max’s book, which compares the Israeli government to Nazis. Liberal writers have condemned the book for promoting views "akin to those expressed by the KKK, Hamas and other anti-Semites."

One senior official at a nonpartisan pro-Israel organization told the Washington Free Beacon that the emails pose a problem for Clinton’s presidential run.

"It's unclear whether Clinton actually believed any of Blumenthal's paranoid rantings, but there are real questions about why she pretended to—and how she's going to keep his lunacy out of the White House if she wins," said the source, who would only speak on background out of fear of retribution by Clinton.