As New Yorkers prepare to elect a new U.S. senator on November 7, Hillary Rodham Clinton remains hounded by twin suspicions about her honesty and commitment to Israel. Her plunging support among Jewish voters in a recent survey suggests that these nagging questions may be causing grave damage to her Senate candidacy.
Mrs. Clinton fueled these lingering doubts in November 1999 when she kissed Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha, immediately after Mrs. Arafat delivered a speech accusing Israel of murdering Arab children — with poison gas, no less. Mrs. Clinton said she did not understand the simultaneous translation of Mrs. Arafat’s Arabic remarks. In any case, why the smooch? Given the PLO’s legacy of violence, wouldn’t a handshake have sufficed?
Mrs. Clinton sparked further questions when she claimed that she asked President Clinton to veto an anti-Israel resolution in the United Nations Security Council on October 7. The U.S. abstained instead. But did she really urge that veto, or simply concoct that story afterward to limit the damage to her candidacy after the abstention drew fire? Mrs. Clinton has been very uncomfortable discussing this matter. When I asked her about this at an October 17 Council on Foreign Relations meeting, she huffed: “That question does not even deserve a response. I have said everything about that I have to say.”
Now Hillary Clinton has puzzled Jewish voters and friends of Israel with yet another stumble. The New York Daily News reported on October 25 that her Senate campaign has returned $50,000 collected at a Boston fundraiser attended by Muslims and Americans of Arab descent. The First Lady posed for photos holding a plaque given to her by the event’s organizers. It expressed the appreciation of the American Muslim Alliance for her human-rights activism. Mrs. Clinton now says she didn’t know the award was from the Alliance, even though the group’s name was emblazoned on the trophy in large letters. “I get handed thousands of plaques,” Mrs. Clinton now says. Alas for the First Lady, the American Muslim Alliance’s national president, Agha Saeed, favors the Palestinian struggle for independence from Israel and believes the Palestinians “have the right to resist by armed force.”
Mrs. Clinton has hosted events at the Executive Mansion “to which individuals opposed to the Mideast peace process and Israel’s existence were invited,” the Daily News reported. Her Senate campaign returned a $1,000 contribution from one of those visitors, Abduraham Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council. According to the Daily News, Alamoudi once declared: “We are the ones who went to the White House and defended what is called Hamas,” the Palestinian terrorist group whose 1994-1996 suicide-bombing campaign killed 130 people and wounded some 600 others. Shortly after one of its bombs exploded in Jerusalem in August 1997, Alamoudi told Fox News about Hamas: “I think it’s a freedom-fighting organization.”
Mrs. Clinton’s June 30, 2000 Federal Election Commission filing cited Alamoudi’s May 25 donation of $1,000 to her war chest. Oddly enough, his occupation is not listed as “American Muslim Council” but “American Museum Council.” The Clinton campaign calls this a typo. (To see Alamoudi’s contribution record, search under his surname here.)
A reasonable voter might give another candidate the benefit of the doubt here. But this is the same Hillary Rodham Clinton who is associated with the “bureaucratic snafu” that led to Filegate.
This is the same First Lady whose Rose Law Firm billing records vanished for two years, then magically reappeared in the White House residence just days after the Resolution Trust Corporation concluded a Whitewater-related probe in which the records would have been relevant. “I do not know how the billing records came to be found where they were found,” the First Lady shrugged back in January 1996.
This is the same woman who special prosecutor Robert Ray believes gave deceptive sworn testimony in the Travelgate affair. As Ray’s October 18 report concludes: Mrs. Clinton “played a role in the decision to fire the [White House Travel Office] employees and…thus, her statement to the contrary under oath to this office is factually false.”
As Bill Clinton’s presidency wanes, a Hillary Clinton Senate term could be waxing around the corner. For now, her Republican opponent stands in the way. In a Zogby poll published October 31 in the New York Post, Rep. Rick Lazio led the Dutchess of Chappaqua 47.8 percent to 42.9 (margin of error: plus or minus 3.8 percent).
Mrs. Clinton’s collapsing popularity among Jewish voters also spells trouble. On October 29, Zogby found her leading among Jews by 68.8 percent to 27.3 for Lazio. (Margin of error: plus or minus 4 percent). Two days later, in the aforementioned October 31 poll, only 46 percent of Jews favored Mrs. Clinton while Lazio’s support climbed to 45 percent.
But the biggest obstacle between Hillary Clinton and her Capitol Hill dreams may be her reluctance to speak candidly about the scandals that nip at her heels like Park Avenue poodles. New Yorkers soon may decide that they deserve better in the Senate than a politician’s wife who parachuted into the Empire State with ambitions nearly as awesome as her allergy to the truth.