Remembering When Obama’s State Department Interfered in Israeli Elections

0
367

FLASHBACK TO 2016

The State Department paid $350,000 dollars in taxpayers grants to an Israeli group that used the money to build a campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israeli parliamentary elections. That was the conclusion of a congressional investigation completed only Tuesday.

The money was sent to OneVoice, run by Obama people, ostensibly to support the group’s efforts to back Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement negotiations.

That’s not what happened. OneVoice used the money to build a voter database, train activists and hire a political consulting firm with ties to President Obama’s campaign — all of which set the stage for an anti-Netanyahu campaign, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a bipartisan staff report.

In one stunning finding, the subcommittee said OneVoice even told the State Department’s top diplomat in Jerusalem of its plans in an email, but the official, Consul General Michael Ratney, claims never to have seen them.

He said he regularly deleted emails with large attachments — a striking violation of open-records laws for a department already reeling from former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s handling of official government records.

Netanyahu survived but no thanks to the Obama administration.

“The State Department ignored warning signs and funded a politically active group in a politically sensitive environment with inadequate safeguards,” said Sen. Rob Portman, chairman of the investigative subcommittee. “It is completely unacceptable that U.S. taxpayer dollars were used to build a political campaign infrastructure that was deployed — immediately after the grant ended — against the leader of our closest ally in the Middle East. American resources should be used to help our allies in the region, not undermine them.”

BACKGROUND

In December of 2014, Jeremy Bird, the “architect” of President Obama’s presidential campaigns began working to defeat Netanyahu in Israel’s March, 2015 elections.

Bird worked through V15, an Israel-based group dedicated to defeating Netanyahu’s Likud. The NY Times reported that V15 (Victory 2015) and its partners had asked Bird and his firm, 270 Strategies, “to share best practices in organizing so they can maximize their impact both online and on the ground.” Mr. Bird stated through a spokeswoman:

“We’re witnessing something special happening in Israel right now: There’s a groundswell of organic energy as more than 10,000 supporters are coming together to have a voice in their country…. [V15’s] “efforts are already paying off as they have reached out to more than 200,000 targeted voters, both in person and on the phone, about the need for change in Israel.”

What he didn’t say was those “targeted voters” were Israeli Arabs. Investigative reporter Aaron Klein, wrote on February 6, 2015 that “A State Department-financed nonprofit based in Israel is currently engaged in a major effort to get young Arab voters to the voting booths in the upcoming Israeli elections.”

Funding of OneVoice Israel and Victory 2015

Klein names, as one of three funders of V15, S. Daniel Abraham, a “major donor to the Democratic Party and the Clinton foundation.”

Jeremy Bird is a founding partner of the political consulting firm 270 Strategies, which was hired by V15. The firm is largely manned by “former top staffers for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.” V15 became a subsidiary of OneVoice Israel, which self-describes as an “international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians.”

A misuse of taxpayer funds is an issue with OneVoice Israel. “The State Department is … listed as a partner of OneVoice on the group’s website,” Klein wrote,” but it had been scrubbed. However, the Internet Archive still carries an image taken in 2014 showing the State Department listed on the “partner” page. [Scroll to the bottom.]

On July 12, 2016, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) completed a probe into whether an American nonprofit, OneVoice Movement, used State Department funding in efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Fox News reported that according to the Subcommittee report:

For 14 months, ending in November 2014, the U.S. State Department granted nearly $350,000 to the Israeli and Palestinian arms of the advocacy group OneVoice. Their goal? To support peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Shortly after the U.S. Government grant ended, the OneVoice Israel movement absorbed and funded an Israeli group named Victory 15. Its goal? An Israeli political campaign to elect “anybody but Bibi Netanyahu.”

Although OneVoice technically followed State Department rules by not directly using its funds in the anti-Netanyahu campaign, “OneVoice used the campaign infrastructure and resources built, in part, with State Department grants funds, to support V15,” said Fox. “Within days after the grant period ended, however, the group deployed the campaign infrastructure and resources created, in part, using U.S. grant funds to support a political campaign [known as V15] to defeat the incumbent Israeli government.”

Those resources included: “its social media platform, which more than doubled during the State Department grant period; its database of voter contact information,… which OVI expanded during the grant period, and enlisted its network of trained activists, many of whom were recruited or trained under the federal grant…”

OneVoice even e-mailed its plan to the State Department during the grant period.


PowerInbox
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments