WASHINGTON (JTA) — Huma Abedin, a top aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, questioned whether it was worth having Bill Clinton speak at an AIPAC event in 2009.
Abedin’s lack of enthusiasm for the former president’s appearance at the annual conference organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that year was documented in an email exchange that was published Thursday on the conservative new site The Daily Caller.
“U really want to consider sending him into that crowd?” Abedin said of the invitation in corresponding with Doug Band, an aide to Bill Clinton. Her reference to AIPAC as “that crowd” was deemed dismissive by the media that reported on the exchange, including the New York Post.
Her evident frustration with the pro-Israel community came the week that the Obama administration was furious with Israel’s government for announcing a major settlement-building initiative at a time when the White House was trying to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The settlement bid had scuttled a planned announcement by some Persian Gulf states to make overtures to Israel as an incentive to Israel restarting the talks. Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, was among the U.S. officials who had worked to get the Gulf states on board with the concessions, which included allowing Israeli airlines access to airspace and the opening of trade offices.
The exchange started with Band writing Abedin that Bill Clinton was hesitant to attend the AIPAC forum that year.
“Aipac begging for wjc to come speak at conference,” he wrote, using the initials for the former president’s full name, William Jefferson Clinton. “He doesn’t think he should unless you all do,” Band wrote to Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff.
Abedin wrote: “U really want to consider sending him into that crowd?” After Band pressed for an answer, Abedin responded: “No go to aipac.”
The State Department released the exchange on Sept. 21, 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the conservative advocacy group Citizens United.
Bill Clinton twice addressed AIPAC in the 1990s as president. Hillary Clinton spoke before AIPAC in 2010 after her husband was asked to address the group.
Abedin was raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, by Muslim parents who ran the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Abedin also worked there as assistant editor.
Abedin is married to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who is Jewish, and who while in Congress was closely linked with right-wing pro-Israel groups. The couple recently separated after Weiner was caught multiple times sending sexual messages online deemed inappropriate, most recently while sitting next to his son.
Separately, in September 2011, another email in the dump shows a Clinton Foundation official suggesting that the foundation “burn” Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, for mischaracterizing remarks by Bill Clinton.
Abrams had published in The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, an attack on Clinton allegedly for saying that Israel was not ready for peace, and blaming it in part on Russian immigrants.
Clinton’s remarks, in a meeting at the time with foreign policy bloggers, were analytical and did not assign blame. The former president credited Israel much more than he did the Palestinians for taking risks for peace. He described Israel’s move to the right as a natural evolution, and said the Russian immigration was a component of that evolution.
Amitabh Desai, a foreign policy adviser to Bill Clinton, wanted to release the full transcript to humiliate Abrams, and sought permission to do so from Abedin and other State Department officials.
“You ok with us releasing it to burn that blogger who mischaracterized it?” Desai asked, referring to Abrams.
Portions of Clinton’s remarks came to light, but it’s not clear if this was because of a leak from the foundation.