The emails between former political advisor to Bill Clinton, Paul Begala, and John Podesta, Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, also revealed that the former had been backing and advising Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog during Israel’s 2015 elections.
Begala shared his thoughts on a series of issues including conclusions on how Netanyahu emerged victorious in the elections by employing questionable tactics.
In an email dated March 18, 2015, a day after the Israeli elections, Podesta sent a short sentence to Begala asking him whether he had anything to say “on Israel other than the obvious?” to which Begala responded with a number of bleak conclusions.
“Just as patterns of immigration are moving the US left, patterns of immigration are moving Israel right. I have never seen anything like Bibi's furious surge to the right in the last 4 days. Nothing like it in America. He had robo-calls calling the President 'Hussein Obama, the Muslim,' he had ads saying the Arabs will vote in droves. He accused Herzog of wanting to divide Jerusalem,” the email began.
“Bibi did not win because of Iran,” continued Begala in reference to Netanyahu’s 2015 speech in the US Congress two weeks prior to the elections.
“He won because of race. He cannibalized the smaller parties on the right: Bennett's Jewish Home lost 4 seats, Shas lost 4 seats, Lieberman's party lost 5 seats, United Torah lost 1. That is a 14 seat decline on the right. Bibi gained 10.”
Turning to other Israeli political figures, Begala expounded his view that leader of the Kulanu party Moshe Kahlon represented a more moderate approach, adding that Netanyahu deceived the public into believing that an old endorsement by Kahlon had been given just before the elections.
“The guy to watch is Moshe Kahlon. Slightly more moderate than Bibi, formed his own party and took 10 seats. Might have done better but Bibi doctored an endorsement Kahlon gave him two years ago and made it look like it happened two days before the election,” he noted.
“All the smart guys in Tel Aviv thought Bibi was having a nervous breakdown. In the US you could never get away with those kind of racist appeals. But, man, did it work.”
“On our side,” Begala wrote in reference to Issac Herzog who leads the Zionist Union Camp, “we focused on trying to hold down Lapid's Yesh Atid, but never really attacked him - a mistake.”
Finally, Begala then reflected of the shortcomings of the pre-election strategies, particularly noting the consequences of weak emphasis on rallies.
“We also did zero rallies in the final days—Buji (Herzog) doesn't like them and he is not a rah-rah guy. This gave all the bandwagon effect to Bibi. I am still half-wasted from my hospital stay, and am deeply depressed that I failed such a good guy in such a big race,” Begala’s email concluded.