After the 2016 presidential election, the mainstream media began to run a story about how the election was manipulated by the Russian government. It became a common story, even without any proof of a real impact, that the Russians helped to steal the election from Hillary Clinton.
It’s an interesting claim, as foreign governments have made similar claims about the United States for decades. It’s also somewhat poetically just, because, as he just admitted recently, William Clinton, former president of the United States of America, attempted to manipulate an Israeli election, hoping to ensure a loss for Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu.
In an interview on Israeli local television, Bill Clinton made clear that yes, he attempted to influence the outcome of Israel’s 1996 election. According to Clinton’s own accounting, he attempted to intervene on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponent, Shimon Peres.
Clinton stated that he believed Shimon Peres, out of the two, would be the more open to the process of making peace with Palestine.
Because of his willingness to ‘make peace’ with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, Clinton worked for Peres’ election to replace the recently-assassinated Yitzhak Rabin.
It was under Rabin’s leadership that Israel signed the Oslo Accords and made numerous movements towards embracing the ‘peace process’ between themselves and Palestine.
During the interview, though Clinton said that he intervened in the election, he didn’t point out precisely HOW he attempted to tip the odds of a foreign election in his favor.
However, in March 1996, Clinton did bring together the ‘summit of peacemakers,’ a group of regional ‘leaders,’ and he included Shimon Peres, then acting as Prime Minister of Israel, along with King Hussein of Jordan, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and Yasser Arafat of Palestine.
After the death of Yitzhak Rabin, however, Palestinians began a suicide bombing campaign against Israel.
Shimon Peres, originally born in Poland, had no military experience, but his opponent, Benjamin Netanyahu, was a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal, Israeli Special Forces. Netanyahu’s military background and comfort with the appropriate use of force, combined with his harder stance against Palestinian violence targeting Israel, helped him to secure the election.
During the interview, they asked Bill Clinton if it was “fair” to say that he went out of his way to help Shimon Peres become the Prime Minister of Israel.
Clinton said that he “did help him,” thinking that Shimon was more likely to support the ‘process’ of establishing peace with Yasser Arafat’s government.
Further, Bill Clinton believed that forcing Shimon Peres on the people of Israeli would be the best thing for them.
Bill Clinton, with minimal knowledge of the history of Israel and the still-ongoing Israel-Palestine Conflict, thought he knew better than voters in Israel.
Obviously, Shimon Peres lost to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, a bold and brash former special forces soldier, confronted Bill Clinton on his support of Shimon Peres, telling Clinton that he knew the American was in favor of his opponent but that he won anyway.
Of course, Bill Clinton wasn’t the last democratic president to interfere in Israeli elections.
Israel’s Likud called out Barack Obama for attempting to interfere in Israel’s elections in 2015.
To be specific, they accused the State Department of handing over a database to V15 in an attempt to influence the election outcome.
Many on both sides of the Atlantic suggested that Obama hoped to undermine Netanyahu due to frosty relations between the two.
Of course, it was Obama himself who created such a poor relationship with our main ally in the region. He repeatedly condemned Benjamin Netanyahu, and he often took the Palestinian’s sides, suggesting that responses to strings of suicide bombings and other attacks went too far.
The truth is that the United States, and every other nation that can afford to run a diplomatic presence in a foreign land, attempt to influence elections all the time.
However, it is hard to take certain politicians, like Hillary Clinton, seriously when they complain that foreign governments are attempting to influence the United States election. She headed the Department of State, the precise department which performs that function around the world.
The world is too interconnected not to influence each other’s elections. The Clintons have influenced elections for more than twenty years. It almost seems churlish to pretend otherwise, and it’s nice to see Bill Clinton answer questions on the topic with some modicum of candor.