WASHINGTON — Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton paid tribute to former president Shimon Peres Thursday and said she told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at their Sunday meeting she would defend Israel as president.
Her comments came during a conference call Thursday with American Jewish leaders and community members.
“First and foremost, I want to say how saddened I am personally by the passing of Shimon Peres,” she said at the start of the call, organized ahead of the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, which begins Sunday evening. “He has been a friend to my husband and me for many years.
“When [Peres] spoke, it could be like listening to a psalm, and I loved sitting and listening to him, whether it was about Israel, the nation he loved and did so much to defend, or about peace or just about life itself,” she added. “I know that not only Israel but the United States and the world will miss him.”
Citing the need to “keep the unbreakable bonds between the American and Israeli people,” the former secretary of state turned to her Sunday meeting with Netanyahu in New York. The two met while Netanyahu was attending the United Nations General Assembly gathering in Manhattan.
She said they had “a good discussion,” during which she emphasized her commitment to Israel’s defense, both militarily and on the battlefield of public opinion.
“I made it clear to him that, if I am so fortunate to become your president, I will always, as I always have, stand up for Israel’s security, continue to work toward peace, and continue to do everything possible to protect Israel from the unwarranted and unfair efforts to delegitimize it,” she said.
The two also discussed Netanyahu’s visit to see the musical “Hamilton” on Broadway. The acclaimed production earned gushing praise from the Democratic nominee, who said she “just relished the three times I have now seen it.”
Clinton wished American Jews “a happy and healthy New Year” and said the holiday’s “message of repentance and prayer and charity has always struck a chord with me.”
One topic that did not come up in the call: Clinton’s Republican opponent Donald Trump.
The call was orchestrated by the Clinton campaign and the National Jewish Democratic Council, the Democratic Party’s outreach arm to the American Jewish community.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.