Clinton Camp Targets Sanders on Israel Record
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is eager to slow down Bernie Sanders’ momentum after his stunning victory in the New Hampshire primary. Countering the headlines about Bernie making history as the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary, the Clinton campaign rushed to note the Jewish Senator’s secularism and stance on Israel to cool down the “bern” in his moment of pride.
“Bernie is a secular Jew, and I don’t think his religion influenced his stance on Israel,” Paul Hodes, a former congressman from New Hampshire and a surrogate for Hillary, told The Forward on Tuesday.
According to Hodes, who is Jewish, “Hillary Clinton has been a very strong friend of Israel, and that is something that should not be lost on the American Jewish community. Senator Sanders hasn’t showed himself to be the kind of friend of Israel that Secretary Clinton is.”
Hillary’s aggressive pushback may bear fruits considering the Jewish electorate in New York favors her over Sanders by eight points, according to a recent Siena Research poll.
Sanders coasted to victory in Tuesday’s primary on a wave of voter anger at establishment politics, beating Hillary by 22 percentage points (60-38) with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Sanders said his victory over Clinton showed “we have sent the message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California, and that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors.”
Sanders was in New York on Wednesday to meet with Rev. Al Sharpton, not necessarily a figure who’s viewed as a friend of the Jewish community in New York. And just recently, Sanders called for normalizing relations with Iran, a state sponsor of global terrorism and a regime that continues to threaten Israel with annihilation.
“We know Hillary and we know she has an unshakeable bond with Israel, so this shouldn’t pose a great dilemma for Jewish voters,” Hodes told The Forward.
Tevi Troy, a former aide to President George W. Bush and a political historian, told Jewish Insider, “Pro-Israel voters who were not taking Sanders seriously now need to do so.”
Troy pointed to the Democratic presidential hopeful’s comments on ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday in which he revealed that he gets his foreign policy advice from Israel critics such as J Street and James Zogby. “Supporters of Israel – on both sides of the aisle – need to start paying attention,” he stressed.