Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton raised some $400,000 at a Jan. 14 Manhattan fund-raiser cosponsored by her campaign and NORPAC, the New Jersey-based pro-Israel political action committee.
Her earnings topped the $150,000 raised in December at NORPAC benefits for Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and the $100,000 one month earlier for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Despite unhappiness by many NORPAC members at Clinton’s support of the multinational anti-nuclear agreement with Iran, that subject never arose during the midtown Manhattan cocktail reception held in her honor.
“It didn’t come up,” said NORPAC president Ben Chouake. “There is no question that we disagree with people who voted for the pact. It was bad for America, bad for the world, and certainly bad for Israel. But opposing it was a heavy lift. A lot of people in Congress held out until the end but voted for it because it was going to pass anyway. They figured, ‘Why use your power up on something you can’t win on?’”
To Chouake, candidates aspiring to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee “could not be against this deal. They would have had to face an antagonist in the White House. Hillary did not use her bully pulpit to push for it, but I would say that when she was secretary of state there were more sanctions against Iran passed and enforced than during any other administration in history.”
Given her record on Middle East issues not fully in sync with NORPAC’s position, Chouake believes that many members do not consider Clinton to be their preferred candidate. “A lot of people are still bittersweet about the Iran thing, and it is hard for a lot of them to get over, but I am over it,” he said.
Because the event was held in Manhattan and not in Bergen County — where many NORPAC supporters are members of conservative Orthodox communities — “it was a lot more liberal crowd, and that’s fine. I am OK with that,” Chouake said.
Asked about Clinton’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Chouake said, “I do not have a good sense of Bernie Sanders at all. He is almost the only senator who does not meet with us, which I find obnoxious.”
Chouake noted that the independent senator from Vermont has declined to meet with representatives of all political action committees.
Chouake said that Clinton “gets criticized a lot because she talked with all of these people who are antagonistic to Israel during her tenure in office. But the reality is, if you are a senator, or certainly if you are secretary of state, you are going to talk to a lot of people who don’t like Israel. You have to talk to everybody, but you don’t have to do everything they tell you to do. People are going to float all kinds of crazy positions. Every secretary of state hears them.
“But by-and-large, I think her tenure was very solid on Israel,” added Chouake. “Some people complained that she had arguments with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. Hello? Everybody fights with Netanyahu.”