Hillary Clinton sought to assure Israelis that she would be a stronger ally than her rival, Donald Trump, saying that the Islamic State terrorist group is rooting for the Republican candidate to win the presidency.
Clinton’s interview Thursday night on Israeli Channel 2 TV comes as both candidates worked to tout their national security credentials just two months ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Clinton also defended President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as one that is good for the Jewish state.
The Democratic nominee took aim at Trump’s critical comments about Muslims, saying he has played into the hands of ISIS supporters. She referred to an essay published Wednesday in Time Magazine by Matt Olsen, the former National Counterterrorism Center director, who has argued that by making the Muslim religion a campaign issue, he has given jihadists a great gift.
“They are saying, ‘Please Allah. Make Trump president of America,’” she said in excerpts released ahead of the full interview.
“So, I am not interested in giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions,” she added, vowing to defeat the extremist group. “I don’t want them to feel as if though they can be getting more recruits because of our politics.”
Clinton has said in the past that the ISIS group has used footage of Trump in its recruitment efforts. Trump has previously said Clinton and President Barack Obama were “founders” of ISIS.
House Speaker Paul Ryan accused Clinton of “fear mongering.”
“That’s demagogic scare tactics. I don’t even know how you can credibly make the claim to begin with,” the Wisconsin Republican said during an interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” a conservative talk radio program.
After seven years of rocky relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton used the opportunity to reach out to the Israeli public. She sought to assure that a U.S.-led international nuclear deal with Iran will serve to ensure Israel’s safety.
Netanyahu bitterly opposed the deal, even traveling to Washington to lobby Congress to oppose it. Supported across the Israeli political spectrum on this issue, he says it leaves too much of Iran’s nuclear program intact and will pave the way for the Islamic Republic to develop the capability to make a nuclear bomb in the coming years. Trump has vowed to “dismantle” the deal.
“I believe with all my heart that putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program has made Israel safer; has made the region safer; prevented a nuclear arms race,” Clinton said.
She said the deal “does not in any way” excuse Iranian behavior, such as its support for militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and development of long-range ballistic missiles.
“But we are in a stronger position than we would have been to deal with this other malicious behavior because of the nuclear agreement,” she claimed.