Can Secty-of-State Designate Clinton Act Fairly Towards Israel, Given Bill Clinton’s Large Saudi/Arab Donors?
December 22, 2008

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is deeply concerned at the revelations of the heavy influence of Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments and individuals upon the Clintons revealed by former President Bill Clinton’s recently published donor list, which could compromise Senator Hillary Clinton’s ability to act fairly towards Israel when she becomes Secretary of State in the incoming Obama Administration.


The recently released list of donors to Bill Clinton’s private foundation makes public for the first time his Saudi and other Arab donors. These include the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which donated between $10 million to $25 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit that manages his presidential library in Arkansas; $41 million from other governments, including those of include Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Oman; and donations of $1-5 million from Saudi businessman Nasser Al-Rashid; Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi, former Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares; oil and gas entrepreneur Lukas Lundin, who has extensive business interests in Syria; the Friends of Saudi Arabia and the Dubai Foundation. The Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings and vote on Hillary Clinton’s nomination before sending it to the full Senate. (Chuck Bennett, ‘Bill Clinton Releases Donor List: Saudi Arabia Donated Between $10M to $25M,’ New York Post, December 18, 2008). (A full list of donors can be found here).


The Washington Post reports that, “The list of Clinton donors – containing more than 200,000 donor names – shows the extent to which Bill Clinton relied on foreign governments, especially those of Middle Eastern [Arab] oil states, to establish his foundation over the past decade. In many cases, those governments have national interests that have routinely come before the State Department and other U.S. government agencies.” (James V. Grimaldi and Philip Rucker, ‘Risks Seen For Clinton As Husband Lists Donors,’ Washington Post, December 19, 2008).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is deeply concerned at the disclosure of so many and substantial Saudi and other Arab Islamic donors. Such heavy dependence on these donors automatically raises the question – Could Hillary Clinton be biased against Israel in deference to such donors?


“The enormous sums that have been donated by the Saudi government and other deeply hostile opponents of Israel to the Clintons pose a potentially huge conflict of interest bearing on Senator Clinton’s confirmation as Secretary of State. We are aware that other former presidents have accepted large donations from similar sources, but this is the first time that a president’s spouse has been poised to hold high office in a subsequent administration. This makes the Clinton donor list a serious issue regarding potential conflict of interest in a way other presidential donor lists have not been and would not be.


“We are also aware that a number of Jewish figures have also contributed significant sums to Bill Clinton’s private foundation, but these figures are essentially those like billionaire currency speculator George Soros, diet food entrepreneur S. Daniel Abraham and TV producer Haim Saban, all of whom are extremely left-wing critics of Israel, urging major one-sided Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Arabs.


“It is not surprising that the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar, has conceded that there are ‘legitimate questions’ that can be asked in the circumstances and that, as he put it, ‘I don’t know how, given all of our ethics standards now, anyone quite measures up to this who has such cosmic ties.’ As an example of the problem, one only has to think of former President Jimmy Carter, who has also accepted vast sums of Saudi and other Arab money, since which his position on Israel has become even more hostile than it was previously. Much as we might wish that it were otherwise, money talks.


“The ZOA calls upon the United States Senate to carefully pursue this critical matter in its confirmation hearings for Senator Clinton to determine if the issue of bias and a conflict of interest arises. We urge Senator Clinton to make clear at her earliest convenience why pro-Israel Christian and Jewish Americans and groups should not be concerned about this apparent conflict of interest and potential anti-Israel influence, however subtle, of Saudi/Arab money on decision-making and access. We hope that Senator Clinton will demonstrate unequivocally that such a conflict of interest would not arise and affect her performance as Secretary of State.”

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