WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton says in a letter to American Jewish organizations that she opposes a grassroots protest movement promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel over policies toward the Palestinians.
The Democratic presidential front-runner said in the letter released Monday that she agreed on the need to make countering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, or BDS movement, a priority. The July 2 letter sought advice on how to "fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel."
"As you know, BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. That is not the path to peace," Clinton wrote.
The BDS movement has gained strength on U.S. college campuses and in Europe. The Israeli government and many Jewish leaders have called the movement anti-Semitic and an attempt to discredit Israel. BDS advocates say it is based on the campaign against South African apartheid and is aimed at Israeli policy, not Jews, following two decades of failed peace talks and expanded Israeli settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The former Secretary of State said she was concerned by attempts to compare Israel to South African apartheid. "Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival," she wrote.
The letter was addressed to each of the presidents in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as well as Haim Saban, an Israeli-born U.S. media mogul and top Clinton donor who hosted Clinton at a Los Angeles fundraiser in May.
It comes as the U.S. is working with allies to complete a nuclear agreement with Iran, which has been eyed warily by American Jewish leaders, and the Obama administration has sought to repair ties with Israel. Clinton's campaign said the candidate had heard about the issue from a number of people over the past few months and wanted to seek advice from others who share her concerns.