WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillary Clinton told an Israeli TV news show that Islamist extremists are praying for a Donald Trump presidency, prompting an enraged rebuke from the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign.
Clinton, the Democratic nominee, speaking to Israel’s Channel 2, was responding to a question about why she does not use the term “war on radical Islam” favored by Trump and other conservatives.
“Bringing Islam into the definition of our enemy actually serves the purpose of the radical jihadists and there’s a lot of evidence of that,” she said, citing a Time magazine op-Ed by Matt Olsen, formerly a director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President Barack Obama.
“I found it even surprising how clear and compelling the case was, where he quoted ISIS spokespeople rooting for Donald Trump’s victory because Trump has made Islam and Muslims part of his campaign, and basically, Matt Olsen argues, that the jihadists see this as a great gift, they are saying, ‘Oh, please Allah, make Trump president of America!” Clinton said in a preview of a longer interview embedded on Israeli news websites. ISIS is one of several acronyms for the Islamic State terrorist group.
“I’m not interested in giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions,” she said. “I want to defeat them, I want to end their reign of terror, I don’t want them to feel as though they can be getting more recruits because of our politics.”
The Trump campaign addressed the clip in its daily email to reporters, taunting Clinton for her relative paucity of news conferences.
“It’s no surprise she’s resorting to unhinged and dishonest attacks, including claiming on Israeli TV that terrorists are praying for Mr. Trump to win,” Jason Miller, a campaign spokesman, said in the email.
Separately, Clinton and Trump appeared Wednesday evening on the NBC network in a “commander in chief” town hall forum answering national security questions.
Clinton again affirmed her support for the deal reached last year between Iran and six major powers, led by the United States, rolling back nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief. She said the deal freed the United States to focus on other Iranian malfeasance.
“What I am focused on is all the other malicious activities of the Iranians — ballistic missiles, support for terrorists, being involved in Syria, Yemen and other places, supporting Hezbollah, Hamas,” Clinton told Matt Lauer, the NBC interviewer convening the town hall. The question did not come from military veterans in the audience.
“But here’s the difference, Matt. I would rather as president be dealing with Iran on all of those issues without having to worry as much about their racing for a nuclear weapon,” she said. “So we have made the world safer; we just have to make sure it’s enforced.”