Jewish World Review / May 25, 1998 / 29 Iyar, 5758

Evan Gahr

Yasser, she's my girl. Now why was it such a big a suprise?

MIND-READING is usually futile --- unless you're blessed with ESP.

Washington is nevertheless abuzz with speculation as to why Hillary Clinton recently called for a Palestinian state, thereby placing the Clinton administration at odds with Israel and aligned with Yasser Arafat on a matter intended for future negotiations.

But folks eager to ascertain what was going through Mrs. Clinton's mind when she wrapped herself in the Palestinian flag May 8 may find a close look at her record far more instructive.

Indeed, no one should have been surprised when Mrs. Clinton said that "It would be in the long-term interests of peace in the Middle East for there to be a state of Palestine."

True, President Clinton has a solid history of support for the Jewish state. But Mrs. Clinton, as everyone knows, is her own woman. She has often made common cause with leftists who view America and Israel with equal contempt. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton has even managed to help fund PLO front groups --- a dubious endeavor for which she has never given an honest explanation. In the late 1980s, Hillary Clinton served as chairman of the New World Foundation. During her tenure, the New World Foundation played Sugar Daddy to virtually every ultra-left organization under the sun-from the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) to the National Lawyers Guild, long the legal arm of the American Communist Party. Under Chairman Hillary, the New World Foundation also donated $15,000 to the Boston-based Grassroots International, which in turn funded two PLO-affiliated groups on the West Bank.

It's well to note that the grant came before Arafat renounced terrorism and accepted Israel's right to exist. Of course back in the late 80s, folks of Hillary's ilk were quite sympathetic with the PLO. Just as the United States and the Soviet Union were deemed morally equivalent in left-wing circles, the Jewish state was placed on much the same level as PLO terrorists.

Of course, such views didn't quite mesh with the 1992 Clinton campaign's centrist posture. And when Hillary's PLO ties came to light in 1992, the campaign was long on lame-o explanations and short on accountability. (Sound familiar?) Mrs. Clinton's press secretary Lisa Caputo told the Forward that Mrs. Clinton did not vote on the grant, and the money was intended for Grassroots' anti-apartheid work in South Africa. Picking up on that note, Mrs. Clinton subsequently said "If the money was diverted I knew nothing about it."

Not so fast, Hillary. The Grassroots donation was a general purpose grant; Grassroots didn't have to divert anything. Moreover, the New World Foundation, according to Grassroots, knew full well that the organization supported West Bank Palestinian groups.

All of that was irrelevant to Clinton loyalists, such as Stuart Eizenstat. The former Carter administration official called the PLO story an "erroneous, irrelevant and outrageous slander on Hillary Clinton."

Quite a mouthful. But today, Mr Eizenstat, now an undersecretary of state, should eat his words. With the Clinton administration increasing the pressure on Israel--thanks in part to Hillary's statement --- earlier concerns regarding her sympathy for the Palestinian cause have proved quite prescient.

To this day, Mrs. Clinton has yet to say whether she approves or disapproves of the grant. Now, is a good time to press her. Of course, "accountability" isn't quite this administration's hallmark. Getting a straight answer from Mrs. Clinton could be as daunting a challenge as trying to read her mind.

JWR contributor Evan Gahr broke the Mrs. Clinton-PLO story for Insight magazine. He now writes for The American Enterprise magazine.

©1998, Evan Gahr