A Hillary hater's unimpressive debut

Arthur Finkelstein's stophernow.com is up and running, but what's with the meta-tags about the deportation of Jews from Gush Katif?

Published May 4, 2005 12:43PM (EDT)

Arthur Finkelstein, the shadowy Republican political operative who recently set his sights on Hillary Clinton, has just launched his much-hyped Swift Boat-inspired anti-Hillary Web effort, stophernow.com. The site, which aims to "rescue" America from "the radical ideas of Hillary Clinton," takes the low road to political victory: Replete with unflattering pictures and overheated prose ("STOP HER NOW is intent on revealing to the American public the TRUTH about just who Hillary Clinton really is"), its most prominent feature is the "Donate" button, which Finkelstein and his pals hope you will press many, many times. People familiar with Finkelstein's intentions -- the man himself hardly ever talks to the press; he's rarely even photographed, and he has been called the Keyser Soze of politics -- have said that he intends to raise $10 million in order to defeat Hillary's 2006 Senate campaign, thereby dashing her 2008 presidential hopes.

We can't predict, based on this site, whether he'll meet that goal. Suffice it to say if you had a dollar for every Hillary Clinton-hater in this country, you'd probably need a pretty fat wallet.

But one War Room reader did alert us to something odd about stophernow.com. The page's "meta tags" -- the text in the source code of a Web page that's designed to let search engines know what the site is about -- includes some language that we thought was quite mysterious. "Stop Her Now is a collaboration of over 7,600 independent Baptist churches in America, who are against the deportation of Jews from Gush Katif in Gaza and Northern Samaria," one meta tag says. Another tag lists several keywords to describe the site: "Israel, Gush Katif, Gaza Strip, Northern Samaria, Jews, settlers, Christian, Baptist, Oklahoma."

At first we had no idea what these tags were doing in a site designed to defeat Hillary Clinton. Finkelstein's sympathy for the Israeli right-wing is well-known; in the past, he's provided campaign advice to Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon. But what does Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign have to do with Jews in Gaza? And why is Finkelstein mentioning these topics only in stophernow.com's meta tags, in a way that's hidden from visitors to the site?

Then Google came to our rescue. When we searched for some of those meta-tag phrases we came upon another page with that text -- a site for a Yedidim of Israel, which bills itself as a "Christian-Zionist organization" that aims to "encourage Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to stop the deportation of Jews in the Gaza Strip and the Shomron." The site's design looks generally similar to that of Stop Her Now. In other words, Arthur Finkelstein's fearless Web effort to quash Hillary Clinton is just a cookie-cutter affair, a copy-and-paste job from another campaign he's apparently launched recently. He may be the Keyser Soze of politics, but to us stophernow.com looks like the kind of sloppy effort you'd expect from one of the usual suspects.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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