US strategist hired by Netanyahu’s rival told Hillary not to talk about Israel

“Why would we call out Israel in public events now? The only voters elevating foreign policy at all are Republican primary voters,” said Benenson.

By World Israel News Staff 

Joel Benenson, the American strategist and pollster recently hired by Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party, Netanyahu’s main rival, warned Hillary Clinton, who he worked for during her 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, to limit her comments about Israel on the campaign trail.

Benenson’s advice to Clinton in the form of emails, were revealed by Wikileaks in October 2016. They have made headlines again this week with the announcement that Benenson will be joining Blue and White’s campaign ahead of the September election.

The email thread, dated May 17, 2015, deals with “talking points” for Clinton on the stump.

Campaign manager Robby Mook writes: “I’m with Joel [Benenson]. We shouldn’t have Israel at public events. Especially Democrat activists.”

Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser to Clinton, questions that logic, noting that Clinton had served as secretary of state and therefore foreign policy, presumably, should be considered a strong point for the candidate’s campaign.

But Benenson himself then counters: “Why would we call out Israel in public events now? The only voters elevating foreign policy at all are Republican primary voters. To me, we deal with this in stride when and if we are asked about foreign policy.”

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Sullivan persists: “I think good to have Israel too.”

Mandy Grunwald, political consultant and media adviser for the Democratic Party, seems to then suggest that Israel would be a good subject for fundraisers, in other words, when Clinton is speaking to donors, but questions whether the Democratic presidential hopeful should be raising the issue of the State of Israel at “public events.”

The underlying logic of these comments appears to be that Clinton donors are more likely to be sympathetic to Israel than the broad base of Democratic voters.

Sullivan, still supporting the inclusion of Israel in campaign speeches, suggests including “a sentence on standing up for our allies and our values, including Israel and other fellow democracies, and confronting terrorists and dictators with strength and cunning.”

The fact that Benenson would suggest keeping Israel out of the discussion in a U.S. presidential campaign and is now advising a candidate in an Israeli election campaign will appear ironic to some.

Blue and White told Israel Hayom in response to various revelations about Benenson, including his advice to Hillary: “We are determined to replace Netanyahu’s government and to act for the citizens of the State of Israel. Irrelevant background noise and gossip from election campaigns in foreign countries will not stop us.”

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Benenson also worked for Barack Obama’s successful bids for the presidency in 2008 and 2012.