Recently, in a letter written to wealthy capitalist Haim Saban, which was released online, Hillary Clinton declared her full-throttled opposition to the BDS movement.
Numerous news outlets ranging from Politico, Jewish Daily Forward, Haaretz, and Mondoweiss wrote about this letter, each having their different perspective. One thing is clear: Puder PR, Saban’s PR agency, released the letter possibly with the coordination of the Clinton campaign. This firm bills itself as “the only communications firm specializing in Jewish affairs” that operates in Israel and the US, on its LinkedIn, and has clients ranging from the Jewish Federation, Friends of the IDF, and the World Jewish Congress to and the Israeli American Council, putting it squarely within the realm of Zionism.  Beyond this, it is important to connect the dots between Clinton, Saban, and Zionism itself.
While the letter seems to have a PR-tone to it, reminding me of the form letters I would receive from congresspeople when I sent them emails about certain issues, I still think a critical viewpoint can be helpful. In the letter, Clinton expresses “alarm” about the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement and calls it “a global effort to isolate the State of Israel.”
That sounds horrible to those who care about and support BDS, but she goes further. She claims that “BDS seeks to punish Israel” and dictate terms to Israelis and Palestinians, and that there should be two states (Palestinian and Israeli) but it must happen through direct negotiations, not imposed unilaterally or “from the outside.”
This is very telling because the negotiations, in which the US is certainly not a neutral party, have been going on since the 1970s, if not before, and have resulted in not much more than continuing, seemingly never-ending negotiations.
Moving on, Clinton also claims that BDS is not only an attempt to “single out Israel on the world stage” but that it follows previous “attacks” on Israel. I don’t feel the need to refute every one of these charges, but I recommend that people simply read the BDS movement’s website for themselves.
Clinton doesn’t only attack BDS, but she puts it into a broader context. She says that not only should “we” make the countering of BDS “a priority” but that “we” need to push back against supposed attempts to “malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
This is a code word, in my view, that “we,” presumably meaning Clinton, Saban, Zionists, and other pro-Israel forces, need to whitewash and apologize for Israel’s atrocities and its brutal rogue nature.
Clinton goes on to say that there should be engagement of people across the board on why BDS is “counterproductive” to a supposed “pursuit for peace” and, in her view, harmful to Israelis and Palestinians.
She goes further and admits that when she was Senator and Secretary of State she took a hard stance in favor of Israel, seeing how “crucial it is for America to defend Israel at every turn,” that she condemned the moderate “biased Goldstone report,” and that she has blocked attempts by Palestine to “unilaterally declare statehood” at the UN in the past.
To me, this was a powerful admission and it is connected to the part of the letter where she writes that “America will always stand up for Israel—and that’s what I’ll always do as President,” which sounds almost like a line written by her PR team.
Continuing on, Clinton engages in her whitewashing of Israel’s record. She says that she is concerned by attempts to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa because she believes perversely that Israel is “a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival.”
This makes it sound like Israel has no weapons and is a defenseless little animal being poked by big, intimidating bears. As any astute observers know, Israel is the only state in the region with nuclear weapons and it has a powerful military force which includes high-tech military equipment. No Arab state, no matter how much they are angry with Israel, wants to invade it, rather they have their own elite interests which do not align with protecting Palestinians either in the occupied territory or in Israel itself.
At the end of her letter, she almost goes all Reagan, with the “city on the hill” projection of the US, claiming that “the Jewish state is a modern-day miracle—a vibrant bloom in the middle of the desert. We must nurture and protect it.”
This makes it sound like Israel is some plant than needs to be nurtured, not a murderous state.
Also in the letter, Clinton continues to ask for Saban’s advice. She writes that she wants his advice on how to reverse the “trend” of BDS (it isn’t a trend, its a movement), and to help “fight back against further attempts to isolate and deligitimize Israel.” She also says that she not only will be seeking his thoughts and recommendations on ways to “counter BDS,” but she is eager to hear his perspective. She even writes at the end of the letter, in her own handwriting, the following: “looking forward to working with you on this.”
Even if a good amount of this letter is written by her PR people, it is clear that this letter is revealing about Clinton herself and seems to indicate she is a dedicated Zionist. This is even more important as Clinton is trying to control her media image and brand including a recent interview on CNN, which was heavily scripted without “hard” questions.
The Clinton emails
For more details, I looked through the recently released Clinton emails, which are a treasure trove of information. One email referenced the Saban Forum, but I looked further. In another email, Jake Sullivan, a top Biden aide, sent Clinton an email thanking someone for getting an op-ed about “facts” regarding Israeli settlements “placed.”
This op-ed says that “it is time for Israel to freeze all settlement activity and dismantle the unauthorized outposts” but also denies that the US does works lock-in-step with Israel.
Clinton writes back and says that she thinks it is “right on point” and they they should “be prepared to enlist someone to respond to John Bolton’s attacks.” This is interesting because it relates to one email related to the Edinburgh Film Festival returning money from the Israeli embassy. In this email Clinton writes that
we have some good ideas as to what our govt can do, but we also want to see pressure from local people brought on the British and Scottish govts. Can you and Bruce reach out to the community in London and Edinburgh to urge them to raise this w[ith] PM [Prime Minister Gordon] Brown and other govt officials? We’d like to see top down and bottom up pressure.
This “pressure” is undoubtedly pro-Israeli and anti-BDS even though the email doesn’t say this explicitly, but it does echo what Clinton wrote in her letter to Saban. Other emails are also revealing, but there wasn’t much more in terms of Israel that I could find. 
Clinton and Cablegate
Beyond this, I turned to the Cablegate trove. There are numerous cables on the subject of Israel and Palestine. In one cable there is a letter to Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by Clinton which declares that the US will sent support money to the PA, a measly $75 million which compares to the over a billion sent to Israel, but they are told to have “donor assistance,” as she calls it, “more transparent and consistent” and have the “sufficient liquidity to pursue its institutional and economic development agenda.”
While the end of the cable says that the US wants to supposedly “ensure that the PA has the tools and the resources necessary to build the institutions of a state that will serve the Palestinian people most effectively,” it seems to me that this message has a tinge of neoliberalism.
Other cables noted that the US government said it “wanted a stop to all settlements” in the West Bank, but that Israelis refused to do that, only agreeing to “stop new activity,” which they seemingly did not do. 
In another cable is a response by Clinton to a letter from the former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, in which she says that the “issues” (E1 and Israeli settlements) are “receiving the highest levels of attention in the U.S. Government,” that “Israeli settlement activity” is an important issue, and that the US government, in theory, will remain “focused and committed on the goal of achieving a regional peace that will lead to collective security and prosperity in the region.” Considering her other statements this is really code word for security for Israel and the US’s Arab allies, and that’s about it.
I could dig even further and look into Hillary Clinton’s full views concerning Israel, but it is even more important to consider how Haim Saban fits into the picture. It is already public record that Saban, who contributed over $1.3 million dollars in 2012 alone, most of which went to Democrats, generally supports the Clintons and Democratic politicians.
An AP article earlier this month noted that the biggest gift the super PAC, Priorities USA Action, received was about $2 million dollars from the “media mogul Haim Saban, owner of the Spanish-language Univision Network.” 
A Politico article on the same subject gave more details saying that Saban gave twice what fellow wealthy capitalist George Soros gave to the super PAC (one million dollars), a PAC which is “dedicated to airing ads supporting Clinton and attacking her opponents.”
The conservative Washington Examiner added that Saban, who said that “there won’t be any problems with relations between the United States and Israel when Hillary Clinton is president,” has a history of giving money to Clinton, specifically funneling “more than $12,000 to her Senate and presidential campaigns between 1999-2008.”
The story of Saban goes even further. The founding editor of The American Conservative, Scott McConnell, who said that Saban is “Hillary’s Shledon Adelson,” described Saban not only as a large Democratic Party donor who sponsors the Saban Center at Brookings, which provides “a think tank gloss to pro-Israeli perspectives,” but is a close friend and “major financial backer” of Hillary Clinton.
McConnell asks one question which will be relevant going forward: “Where does Hillary stand, with her financial backers or the more mainstream opinion of the Democratic Party?”
For now, it seems Hillary stands with her financial backers rather than “mainstream opinion” of Democrats, but we’ll see what happens as time progresses.
Moving on, Saban seems to know the “inside” view of Hillary Clinton, almost acting like he is part the “Clinton PR team,” when he told the Jerusalem Post that “Hillary will be great for Israel. Hillary has been a steadfast defender of Israel’s interests. She will be a fantastic president for the US, an incredible world leader and one under whom the relationship with the US and Israel will be significantly reinforced.”
Before going into Saban’s role in the political world, it is important to highlight his business connections. In a 2003 article, Dan Ackman wrote that Saban, who he described as an “Egyptian-born, Israeli-raised, now-American cartoon king,” was planning to buy the assets of a German media group, KirchMedia, for $2.2 billion. With his partner, TF1, a French TV Group, he would buy a “controlling stake in Germany’s largest commercial broadcaster, ProSiebanSat.1 Media.”
The article continued by noting that Saban, best known as the “owner of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” sold Fox Family Worldwide to the Walt Disney Corporation, ending up with $1.4 billion dollars, which left him with a fortune of about $1.7 billion.
However you slice it, the business and political worlds, for Saban, are intertwined. As Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss wrote in April, Saban is not only an “ardent supporter of Israel” and Democratic candidates but President Obama suppressed the “uprising” by the rank-and-file, who were up in arms over a plank in the Democratic Party Platform, at the 2012 Democratic Convention, possibly because he was “counting on Haim Saban’s money for the election campaign.”
Back in 2009, Saban’s role becomes even clearer, when, in a wiretapped phone call, prominent California Democrat Jane Harman told a “suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby Bush administration officials to reduce the charges against the two members of … AIPAC … accused of spying” and in exchange this agent “promised to help her get appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,” a position that that she was appointed to as of 2006. 
In the call, which Roll Call claimed was with Saban, the “suspected Israeli agent” promised Harman that Saban would “threaten to withhold campaign contributions” from Nancy Pelosi if she did not “select Ms. Harman for the intelligence post.” 
The Sabans and the Clintons
Beyond the scandal around Jane Harman, which Saban doesn’t seem to be directly involved in, the political power of Saban was clearly apparent. In 2008, the Huffington Post reported that Saban offered $1 million dollars to the Young Democrats of America during a phone call, in which he also “pressed for the organization’s two uncommitted superdelegates to endorse the New York Democrat” Hillary Clinton. The article also noted that Saban has, since 1999, given nearly “$13 million … to dozens of candidates, PACs, and Democratic campaign committees.”
The story with Saban goes back further. A 2004 article in the New York Times notes that Saban, who it describes as “one of the richest and most improbable media magnates” has emerged, in their view, as “perhaps the most politically connected mogul in Hollywood” and throws around his “weight and money” to influence “all things Israeli.”  The article then quotes Saban as declaring that “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.”
Later it is noted that Saban not only has been bidding on “media properties around the world” in an attempt to “expand his empire” and political power, but that he hears about possible business deals all the time. Even more revealingly, the article notes that Saban and his wife, Cheryl, have “slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms” and that he (and his wife) were frequent guests in the Clinton White House.
Additionally, Saban, in 2002, gave a $7 million dollar donation to the Democratic Party. The article also sheds light on his reactionary political views, in which, even though he was a vocal opponent of President George W. Bush, he admits that “on the issues of security and terrorism I am a total hawk. I’m a Democrat for the reinforcement of the Patriot Act. It’s not strong enough.” For anyone who cares about the growing national security/“anti-terror” state and mass surveillance in the United States, this statement is deeply troubling.
But, Saban, who the article describes as a “tireless cheerleader for Israel” declares, in a statement he admits is controversial: “I think that any resolution will have to go both on the Palestinian side and the Israeli side to some form of civil war. It’s not going to be without spilling blood.”
This is even more troubling than the previous statement he made about the Patriot Act because it implies that he is OK with violence since, for him, the end justifies the means in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This approach, I would argue, is totally unacceptable and endorses violence as part of the way forward.
In 2010, the New Yorker had a profile of Saban which revealed more important details. The article noted that Saban, who it described as a “part owner of Univision,” a former member of the Israeli “Defense” Forces (IDF) in his 20s, “a staunch supporter of Israel” who has dual citizenship (in the US and Israel) , and “one of the largest donors to the Democratic Party” who remains “deeply connected to Israel.”
The article continued by describing Saban as a “political power broker” whose greatest concern is to “protect Israel” by strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel. How does he plan to do this? In a conference in the fall of 2009, in Israel, he described a formula for ways to be influential in the American political scene: “make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.”
Later the article said that Saban’s most important relationship is with the two powerful Clintons (Hillary and Bill) with examples including the ten million dollars he gave, split equally, to Bill Clinton’s Presidential library and the Clinton Foundation in 2002. The article also noted that Saban followed his own formula by giving to the Democrats, and founding a part of the Brookings Institution, formerly called the Saban Center for Middle East Policy , in 2002 and giving $13 million to the think tank over seven years.
Beyond this, the article said that Saban not only called Clinton’s defeat in 2008 to Barack Obama “my biggest loss,” but that he remains “protective” of Clinton, even urging the AIPAC’s leaders to make sure “the convention crowd treated Hillary well” at one time in the past. Finally, the article notes that “Israelis marvel at his perceived political power in the U.S.” which is an interesting because, in reality, he has real, raw power, not perceived power.
The Saban Center
The story of Saban goes further. In a 2007 article in Dissident Voice, Grant F. Smith noted that Martin Indyk, a former AIPAC director of research, who helped found the Zionist-to-the-core Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), also went on to found the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Indyk later would end up directing the policy research of the Brookings Institution related to the Middle East.
How does this relate to Saban? Well, Indyk founded the Saban Center, which secured Saban’s “sound and extremely timely” investment in Brookings, an investment in “the marketplace of ideas,” meaning that Saban had some control over “one of the most financial robust … [and] influential policy think tanks.”
Furthermore, Saban and Indyk together, with the Saban Center were able to go beyond AIPAC messaging, and increase their role in the “think tank market,” with an example including “arguments in favor of the Iraq invasion in the many Saban Center articles appearing across major newspapers,” written by people such as Indyk and Kenneth Pollack. Finally, it seemed that AIPAC and Saban were convinced, apparently, that “the same messages can be effectively rebranded and simultaneously broadcast from both WINEP and Brookings.”
This is only part of the picture. And I’m not talking about when Saban implied that Clinton is against the Iran deal, involving their non-existent nuclear weapons, or that Saban and his foundation (the Saban Family Foundation) gave between $5 and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation in 2012. Rather, I am talking about the “deep” relationship between the Clintons and Univision.
Politico wrote an investigative story on this very subject. The article noted that Univision, which is the “biggest Spanish-language media network in the United States,” joined forces with the Clinton Foundation in 2014 for a “multiyear early childhood initiative” which proved “of immediate value to Hillary Clinton” but it provoked a “sharp response” from the RNC (Republican National Committee) which accused Univision of “promoting Hillary Clinton ahead of presidential campaign.”
Beyond this, the article also notes that the connections between Univision and the Clinton Foundation aren’t always transparent and that Saban, who owns part of Univision, has donated possibly as much as $25 million to the coffers of the Clinton Foundation, along with saying it is his dream to get Clinton elected. This is evident because Saban himself has even hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in California. This is important because, as the article points out, Saban’s wife, Cheryl Saban, is a member of the board of directors of the Clinton Foundation. The foundation’s site confirms this and interestingly describes her as “a writer, psychologist … philanthropist and advocate for women and children” without mentioning that her husband is Haim Saban or that she is married.
Moving on, the article quotes top Univision executives who say that a “firewall exists between editorial and corporate” and that Saban is “very respectful of the network’s journalistic independence.” Any astute observer should be wary of this conclusion because First Look Media, which includes The Intercept, says the same thing about wealthy libertarian capitalist Pierre Omidyar, when really the lines are blurred.
The article does admit that from time to time, a “spirit of Republican-bashing has sometimes reared its head at Univision” while many “national Republicans don’t trust the network” and are “suspicious of Saban’s ties to the Clintons,” which the article partially affirms by saying “but for Hillary, things with Univision are looking good.” These statements aren’t surprising from Politico, which takes a slightly business conservative bent.
The connection of Haim Saban and Hillary Clinton deserves more exploring, but focusing on it alone may be a mistake. After all, Clinton’s biggest contributors include Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, among others. For Clinton and Saban, their connection may be a mutually beneficial with Clinton getting help in her Zionist crusade, which is wholly anti-BDS, along with her presidential campaign in general, while Saban gets the ear of Clinton and the campaign, allowing his influence to be apparent.
But for the ordinary American, the connection of Saban to Clinton shows how wealthy capitalists dominate the political process and corrupt the system as a whole, which had already been rotten to the core since the start of the American republic.
 For this article, “Zionist” and “Zionism” refer to what Judith Butler calls political Zionism which she defines as “the massive dispossessions of Palestinians in 1948, the appropriations of land in 1967, and the recurrent confiscations of Palestinian lands that continues now with the building of the wall and the expansion of settlements.”
Later, Butler explains this means “the colonial subjugation in the West Bank and Gaza” which she says is characterized by “violent dispossession, surveillance, and ultimate control by the Israeli state over Palestinian rights to mobility, land, and political self-determination.” In essence, Butler is saying that political Zionism is support for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which has a fundamentally colonial nature. For these quotes see pages 2, 4, 7 of Butler’s book, “Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism.”
While I plan to formulate my own definition of Zionism, I think Butler’s definition is a good one to start with.
 One of these emails notes that the interim President of Libya, Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf, will, according to a secret briefing, “seek a discreet relationship with Israel,” and while he “shares many common friends and associates with the leaders of Israel and intends to take advantage of this situation to improve the lot of the Libyan people,” he may, according to the briefing, “at times, be forced to make statements critical of Israel for his own political purposes, but believes he and his associates have the experience and sophistication to manage this issue.” The briefing also notes that “Magariaf views himself as an Islamist politician who can work with both Islamic and non-Islamic states, including Israel, if the relationships are properly managed.”
 Other cables noted that the negotiator from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, said that “cessation of settlement activities, particularly in Jerusalem, would be the main topic for discussion.” The fact that the US government seemingly had the same position as the PLO is not mentioned or discussed, which is something interesting to note.
Another cable, which focuses on a letter from the Secretary General of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, to Clinton, says that he voiced “strong concerns over increased Israeli settlement activities as well as the demolition of Palestinian houses” and that it “asks the United States to place pressure on Israel to cease the above activities.”
But the US government, to date, had not put such pressure on Israel, just expressing its displeasure and not much more.
 See the recent AP article, “Hollywood, hedge fund heavies giving to Clinton super PAC,” July 2.
 See The Washington Post article titled “Jane Harman’s Wiretapped Conversations,” April 21, 2009 and The New York Times article titled “For a Top Democrat, Further Climb Seems Out,” October 24, 2006.
 See The New York Times article titled “Lawmaker Is Said to Have Agreed to Aid Lobbyists,” April 20, 2009.
 See The New York Times article titled “Schlepping to Moguldom,” September 5, 2004.
 MJ Rosenberg, a person who formerly worked for AIPAC and other interest groups, likely referencing this very reality, tweeted at one point that “Hillary is the only candidate for POTUS in either party EVER whose #1 donor, Haim Saban, is Israel. Ever!”
 In 2014, the Brookings Institution dropped the name Saban from this part of the think tank, meaning it was officially called the Center for Middle East Policy instead. On another note, the New Yorker article also noted that “Saban and his wife, who heads the Saban Family Foundation, have made many substantial charitable contributions to institutions and causes here and in Israel.”
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