A fishy moment for Hilary
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A fishy moment for Hilary

It is an email that will live forever in annals of three-way relationship between Americans, Israelis, and American Jews.

It was one of thousands of emails released this week from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server.

The content was simple, perhaps the prototype for an email sent to two aides by a busy head of a government department with many responsibilities: “Where do we stand on this?”

It was the subject line that turned the email into a laughing matter five years after it was sent, on a Friday in early March 2010.

“Gefilte fish.”

As reporters sought to get to the bottom of this revelation, it turned out that the Democratic presidential front-runner was not wavering between gefilte fish and herring, or between horseradish and mustard.

No, it turned out be an actual international dispute, mentioned in “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” the recently published memoir by Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States. It seems that in February 2010, as part of her State Department duties, Ms. Clinton had to deal with a shipment of 400,000 pounds of carp to Israel that was blocked because of a high import tariff imposed by free trade laws from 1985.

Ms. Clinton was feeling pressure to make sure the carp was delivered for two reasons: Passover was quickly approaching and Schafer Fisheries in Illinois was threatening to lay off a large portion of its staff if it could not profit from the 200 tons of carp it had shipped. (The carp, of course, was to be turned into gefilte fish.)

“Sounds to me like one of those issues that should rise to the highest levels of our government,” Ms. Clinton said at the time. “I will take that mission on.”

Luckily, after days of negotiations with Israel’s ministers of trade and finance, a compromise was achieved — and Passover seders across Israel were able to include the essential holiday dish.

JTA Wire service

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