A U.S. diplomat wrote to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in late 2011 suggesting that the U.S. back non-violent Palestinian protests, possibly working through nongovernment organizations.
The disclosure came just a day after ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro expressed U.S. displeasure over a proposed Israeli law requiring NGO’s to report foreign state funding, which could be used to influence Israeli domestic politics.
In an email to Clinton leaked by the NRG website, veteran U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering advocated launching “a major effort to use non-violent protests and demonstrations and protests to put peace back in the center of people’s aspirations as well as their thoughts, and use that to influence the political leadership.”
“This is far from a sure thing, but far, in my humble view, from hopeless,” he wrote. “Women can and ought to be at the center of these demonstrations,” which he termed would be “in the spirit of Gandhi.” The emphasis on women participants was intended to steer the protests in a non-violent manner.
Pickering also stressed that the proposed U.S. intervention, aimed at kick-starting the peace process, must be kept secret.
“Most of all, the United States, in my view, cannot be seen to have stimulated, encouraged or be the power behind it for reasons you will understand better than anyone,” he wrote. “I believe third parties and a number of NGOs [non-government organizations] on both sides would help,” Pickering said, mentioning Peace Now.
Pickering was Washington’s ambassador to Israel under Ronald Reagan from 1985-1988, and also served as ambassador to Jordan, Russia, India and the United Nations.
On receiving the message, Clinton asked an aide to print it out, but there was no evidence that she acted on it.