Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders get off Israel bandwagon, for once

US Politics
on 30 Comments

The Senate is warning Palestinians against undertaking any “negative” unilateral actions re Israel at the United Nations, and look who isn’t signing on to the letter that AIPAC has endorsed: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Folks have been pressing Warren and her staffers not to sign this letter – and she didn’t. Neither did Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Maybe the national publicity and pressure on these progressives over their Israel-Palestine positions moved them? Maybe they’re tacking ahead of 2016? Here are the 12 non-signers, from both parties:

Bernard Sanders (I), Bob Corker (R), Elizabeth Warren (D), Harry Reid*, Jeff Sessions (R), John D. Rockefeller IV*, Lisa Murkowski (R), Patrick J. Leahy* (D), Rand Paul (R), Tammy Baldwin (D), Tom Coburn (R), Tom Harkin* (D).

(*Majority leader/ senior committee chairs who don’t usually subscribe to these things)

Is this the beginning of a Senate “refuser caucus”? We can only hope. A friend who emailed the office of one liberal northeastern senator who did sign the letter got back this note:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Senator. I would like to share with you the J Street perspective on the letter if that helps.

J Street supported the letter, right alongside AIPAC. Another sign of JStreet as “AIPAC Lite” giving liberal cover for the Israel lobby agenda.

The text of the letter is up at New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte‘s site. It urges the State Department to keep Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities and governing Gaza, and to prevent the Palestinian Authority from going to the International Criminal Court.

Letter Presses Administration to Prevent Hamas from Rebuilding Military Capabilities and Calls for Gaza Demilitarization
Sep 23, 2014
Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group, announced that they’ve led a letter signed by 88 senators to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Administration to take steps to ensure that no assistance is diverted to Hamas, support the Palestinian Authority’s effort to govern in Gaza, and discourage Palestinian unilateral measures at the United Nations and International Criminal Court that bypass direct negotiations and undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Senators wrote, “As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:
September 23, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,
We were pleased to see that Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian cease-fire plan last month. Sadly, Hamas continued its attacks on Israel for weeks after Egypt’s initial proposal, leading to unnecessary and increased suffering in Gaza and Israel.
As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
First, we fully support the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. We must also condition reconstruction assistance on the establishment of a system to prevent Hamas from rearming and rebuilding its military capability. In the past, Hamas has diverted construction materials intended for civilian use to the construction of the tunnel networks that were used during this last conflict to smuggle weapons and attack Israelis. We must support Israeli and Egyptian efforts to implement strict, comprehensive controls so that no assistance is diverted to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The international community has twice spent billions to rebuild Gaza, only to see Hamas transform economic assistance into the means of war. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, we cannot let this happen again. Ultimately, we must seek Gaza’s demilitarization.
Second, we must support efforts to enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise real power in Gaza. Hamas has demonstrated conclusively both that it has no interest in peace with Israel and that it has no concern for the well-being of Gaza residents. Meanwhile, the West Bank has experienced periods of significant relative economic growth and stability, in part due to cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces there. All Palestinians deserve a government that will seek to advance their safety and prosperity-not use them as human shields. Real peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require a Palestinian partner that controls the West Bank and Gaza, is focused on economic development and stability in both areas, and will accept Gaza’s demilitarization. We must start this process now.
Third, while we work with the Palestinian Authority to extend its effective jurisdiction to Gaza, we must work equally hard to ensure that Palestinian officials do not take further harmful steps at the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, or the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority must avoid steps that would undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We must let Palestinian Authority President Abbas know that America’s willingness to cooperate with him will continue to depend on his willingness to return to the negotiating table with the Government of Israel and avoid unilateral measures that bypass direct negotiations.
We look forward to working with you on these critical matters, as our nation strives both to prevent another Hamas-instigated war and to create the conditions that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to move closer to peace.

Sincerely,

Kelly A. Ayotte
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
James M. Inhofe
Richard Blumenthal
Susan M. Collins
Edward J. Markey
Mike Crapo
Joe Manchin III
Pat Roberts
Jeanne Shaheen
Jeff Flake
Tim Kaine
David Vitter
Michael F. Bennet
John Boozman
Kirsten Gillibrand
John Thune
Tim Johnson
Jerry Moran
Debbie Stabenow
Roy Blunt
Patty Murray
John McCain
Kay R. Hagan
James E. Risch
Mark Begich
Marco Rubio
Ron Wyden
Patrick J. Toomey
Barbara Boxer
Dean Heller
Benjamin L. Cardin
John Barrasso
Mark Udall
Richard Burr
Mazie K. Hirono
Lindsey O. Graham
Brian Schatz
Mitch McConnell
Amy Klobuchar
Thad Cochran
Heidi Heitkamp
Deb Fischer
Jon Tester
John Cornyn
Sherrod Brown
Rob Portman
Mark L. Pryor
Michael B. Enzi
Barbara A. Mikulski
Mark Kirk
Maria Cantwell
Lamar Alexander
Martin Heinrich
Orrin G. Hatch
Mary L. Landrieu
Tim Scott
Tom Udall
Roger F. Wicker
Tom Carper
John Hoeven
Charles E. Schumer
Mike Lee
Joe Donnelly
Chuck Grassley
Al Franken
Ted Cruz
Christopher A. Coons
Johnny Isakson
Sheldon Whitehouse
Mike Johanns
Cory Booker
Ron Johnson
Carl Levin
Saxby Chambliss
Bill Nelson
Dan Coats
Mark R. Warner
Richard Shelby
Angus S. King, Jr.
Claire McCaskill
John Walsh
Richard J. Durbin
Chris Murphy
Robert Menendez
Jack Reed
Dianne Feinstein
Jeff Merkley

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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30 Responses

  1. just
    September 26, 2014, 3:36 pm

    12 Senators who may believe in human rights (including the right of self defense) for the Palestinian people.

    That’s just sad. Ayotte and Casey should be ashamed of this. So should the rest of the signatories.

  2. American
    September 26, 2014, 3:39 pm

    Kay Hagan has yet to show her face in this part of her district–we’ve been laying in wait for her.
    She going to lose to the republican candidate–not any better but who cares , at this point the goal is to just .keep throwing them all out

  3. HarryLaw
    September 26, 2014, 3:54 pm

    All the things Abbas has said he would do if the UNSC do not agree to the ending of the occupation within a time frame of 3 years, are legally, morally and above all politically necessary, indeed a duty which the Palestinian leadership must not be blackmailed into abandoning. Applying for membership of the UN Agencies and the ICC are political actions which should have been taken as soon as Palestine was recognized [officially by the UNGA and UNESCO] as a state. Netanyahu has declared that there cannot be a separate Palestinian state between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, that being the case Abbas trying to negotiate one is futile. As the Prosecutor at the ICC said “the ball is in Abbas’ court” he needs to take action, otherwise the Palestinians have no hope.

  4. Jenin Younes
    September 26, 2014, 4:06 pm

    I’m glad to see Warren and Sanders resisted the pressure.

    it’s upsetting to see, once again, so many of our other senators tow the AIPAC line.

  5. Annie Robbins
    September 26, 2014, 4:37 pm

    The Senate is warning Palestinians against undertaking any “negative” unilateral actions re Israel at the United Nations

    with all due respect phil, it is the word “unilateral” which should be in scare quotes. the idea of approaching a world body for international consensus as “unilateral” is an oxymoron. for is it not the opposite of unilateral? unilateral is what israel does by annexing or appropriating (stealing) territory unilaterally. this framing is a propaganda tool/hasbara coup and it should be called out for what it is.

    besides, if israel is serious about negotiations, 3 years gives them plenty of time to put their cards on the table. when one party consistently refuses to even name proposed borders of their own state how can negotiations be taken seriously?

    • Mooser
      September 26, 2014, 8:47 pm

      Did you take note of the fact that Warren was recently lambasted in Commentary and/or Tablet for being insufficiently Zionist. Or saying something they interpreted as meaning Israel should follow the law or something, and they didn’t like it. Oddly enough, I think it was another sentence in the same quotes that Warren was criticized for here, as being blindly pro-Israel!
      Maybe she’s tired of never being able to satisfy Zionism, and is reaching her limits. Anyway the Warren Commentary thing was covered at (of all places) TPM.

  6. ckg
    September 26, 2014, 5:01 pm

    I see neither Tammy Baldwin nor Bernie Sanders signed. I wonder if Chris Hedges was an influence. Two weeks ago the progressive ‘Fighting Bob Fest’ took place in Wisconsin with Baldwin and Sanders the headline speakers. But Chris Hedges–who is no PEP–also spoke. And he spoke of Gaza as only he can:

    And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation—the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.

    An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.

    The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.

    The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPAC windup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools—where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter—water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.

    I wonder how Baldwin and Sanders reacted to being called out as “AIPAC windup dolls”.
    http://madisonrafah.org/blog2013/2014/09/16/sacrificing-the-vulnerable-from-gaza-to-america/

    • just
      September 26, 2014, 5:14 pm

      In Hedge’s speech there is much that could give any Rabbi some ideas for a Rosh Hashanah sermon. They could dip it in honey if need be.

      Thanks, ckg.

    • straightline
      August 10, 2015, 9:20 pm

      I hadn’t seen this speech by Hedges. It articulately captures the essence of the political problem. Brilliant!

  7. seafoid
    September 26, 2014, 5:06 pm

    ” to ensure that no assistance is diverted to Hamas, support the Palestinian Authority’s effort to govern in Gaza, and discourage Palestinian unilateral measures at the United Nations and International Criminal Court that bypass direct negotiations and undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

    And Abbas spoke at the UN to say that bullshit is over.
    Rich nihilistic Jews can go suck on it.

  8. Horizontal
    September 26, 2014, 6:39 pm

    When I see so many politicians sign on to something like this, which is outside the bounds of reality, much less decency, I’m always left wondering how many of our representatives are actually aware of how out of touch they are? Not that it matters that much in the end — a vote to arm Israel is a vote to arm Israel, after all — but just on the human level, how many know it’s BS and support it anyway for political reasons and how many actually believe in it?

    • American
      September 27, 2014, 11:36 am

      Horizontal
      September 26, 2014, 6:39 pm

      I think the politicians are a mixture. Some are tribe members that literally are a Israeli fifth column. A few like the pipsqueak from Tx are true whacko christo zios. Then there are the neocon psychos like McCain get off on constant war, blood and domination so Isr fits that bill perfectly.

      But most do it for campaign money …blood money…30 pieces of silver.
      There are probably only 10 at most on the whole hill who have any morals or balls –or even any patriotism for the US.

      • American
        September 27, 2014, 11:51 am

        To answer your actual question though about being ‘out of touch’ with the public, yea they are totally out of touch because they dont pay attention to ‘the public’ –they only pay attention to niches and money and voter ‘blocks’…they dont have any idea what is bubbling in the wider public…..most of all they dont care.
        They have almost zero contact with the public—-their so called public campaigning is 99% of the time appearing at those ‘niche’ fundraisers.

      • Horizontal
        September 27, 2014, 1:07 pm

        @American

        My overall impression of congress as a whole is that its members are not that well-informed while at the same time existing in a bubble of entitlement. There are exceptions, of course, but too few.

        Here in California, both of my senators (Feinstein & Boxer) are beyond help on this issue and are products of The Machine, so voting them out of office isn’t a real option (believe me, I’ve tried & tried).

        Still sad to see how easily our “leaders” buy into this crap and expect us to believe it, as well.

  9. Citizen
    September 26, 2014, 6:41 pm

    It would gladden my heart if Warren and Sanders stood up for the Palestinians; they’d be standing up for authentic American values–but I fear they won’t hold up.

  10. lonely rico
    September 26, 2014, 8:20 pm

    … we urge you to focus on objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities.

    The recent bloodletting in Gaza saw a national resistance movement Hamas armed with little more than light arms, home-made rockets and their desperate courage to protect their families and children, facing the heavily armed Israeli military, who savaged the entire population with appalling cruelty and barbarity.
    In light of this incontestable fact, it escapes my understanding how any reasonable person can now call upon Hamas to be prevented from rebuilding its military capabilities.
    It is clearly Israel which should be required to not only be prevented from rebuilding its military, but which must be the object of international sanctions of all military equipment and supplies.

  11. Kay24
    September 26, 2014, 10:07 pm

    As expected NJ Senator Menendez seemed to not hesitate to sign on, and the most devoted Israeli supporter from CA Senator Boxer, who recently pushed for a resolution favoring her beloved Israel and make way especially for the visa waiver program, amongst many other favors:

    “States that it shall be the policy of the United States to include Israel in the list of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program when Israel satisfies, and as long as Israel continues to satisfy, the requirements for inclusion in the program.”

    http://www.boxer.senate.gov/en/press/releases/091914.cfm

    At least the 12 senators who decided to not obey AIPAC’s orders, have shown there are some who still do not want to be controlled and do the bidding of an alien nation, sometimes.

    • Marnie
      September 27, 2014, 1:05 am

      I hope that these 12 stand together and be strong come what may because the backlash against them will be a category 4. There has to come a time when fear of what is going to be said against you for standing together against injustice is not nearly as daunting as the fear of standing together with blatant, obvious, criminal injustice.

      My state had a pretty good history of having a spine; unfortunately, there is a comedian in the senate seat for my state and he is not a man of conscience (the dishonorable Mr. Franken). Liked him so much better on SNL.

  12. piotr
    September 27, 2014, 2:34 am

    I hope that Senators Warren and Sanders recognized that you cannot be “progressive except Palestine”. PEP is a good way of having a tepidly progressive agenda and yet get enough plutocratic support to finance an effective election campaign. That gives a mandate for various micro-initiatives and “triangulation”, i.e. to make awful policies rather than goddam awful. Once a virgin looses his/her virtue to one lobby, there will be a long line of paramour: foreign policy by think tanks and military-industrial lobby (with Middle Eastern details penciled in by you know whom), nutritional policies by food companies, financial policies by banks, energy policies by oil and mining etc. etc. Thinking about it, forcible defloration of politicians by AIPAC may be in the interest of all those other lobbies precisely for that reason.

    If Warren has any wider ambitions, being somewhat youthful clone of Hillary will not cut it, because Hillary is not that old. In Democratic primaries there will be definitely room for “anybody but Hillary”, but only for candidates that can get grass root money first, and then get “progressive plutocrats” on board.

  13. HarryLaw
    September 27, 2014, 7:16 am

    Abbas is no different than all the other Sunni despots in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, there was no mention of applying to join the ICC in his speech to the UN, indeed his Foreign Minister Riad Maliki was sent to the ICC in the Hague recently specifically to stop a complaint initiated by the Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem Al-Saqqa, apparently only the Palestinian President or Foreign Minister have the authority under the ICC rules to initiate a complaint, when the ICC Prosecutor asked Maliki [as the competent official] to legitimize the complaint, to the astonishment of the ICC officials, he refused to do so. When all factions of the Palestinians including Hamas want to join the ICC, when all those NGO’s [including a recent call from the Russell Tribunal] to join the ICC with the utmost urgency, his refusal to do so proves that Abbas is all talk and no action, how can the Palestinians put up with such a collaborator? http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/un-abbas-accuses-israel-waging-war-genocide-2108714766

  14. catporn
    September 27, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Washington’s warning and list of demands to be implemented in Palestine, or else we’ll cut off funding, is a great opportunity for the people there to gain some degree of autonomy from the US, which is only acting on behalf of Israel anyway, and we all know that Israel just wants the Palestinians to die or leave, so accepting US money is only facilitating your own subjugation and eventual destruction.

    Aren’t the demands a mix of illegal and immoral?

    (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities;
    I thought a population under occupation were permitted the right to defend themselves.

    (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza;
    In other words the democratically elected govt in Gaza was the ‘wrong’ choice and we want another ‘democratic’ election, but the people must vote for who we want, the choice is between the PA and, well that’s the only choice.

    (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians;
    That’d be ‘negative developments’ like the application and enforcement of international law, or any form of justice for the horrendous war crimes, or years of brutal occupation. All so farcical faux peace talks can be presented to the world as a diplomatic solution, whilst Israeli colonization and expansion continues unabated.

    “Sweet! Where do I sign?” says Abbas.

    • Horizontal
      September 28, 2014, 2:50 pm

      “In other words the democratically elected govt in Gaza was the ‘wrong’ choice and we want another ‘democratic’ election, but the people must vote for who we want, the choice is between the PA and, well that’s the only choice.”

      Great point, catporn.

      I’m reminded that the ideal Arab leader for both the US & Israel was Hosni Mubarak: corrupt, brutal, greedy, elitist & easily bought. He provided stability at the expense of the “man on the street.” That’s how much the US really cares about democracy in the region (Yes, I’m looking at you, Saudi Arabia).

      • catporn
        September 29, 2014, 6:17 am

        It must of been a sad day for Israel and the US when Mubarak was ousted, Egypt is such an important country in the region, finding someone with the same mix of barbarity corruption and obsequiousness could take years.. oh, hello Sisi.

        Your right Horizontal, hegemons prefer a compliant dictator with a firm grip to a functioning democracy, of course there’s ways around the latter too.

      • Shingo
        September 29, 2014, 7:35 am

        It must of been a sad day for Israel and the US when Mubarak was ousted, Egypt is such an important country in the region, finding someone with the same mix of barbarity corruption and obsequiousness could take years.. oh, hello Sisi.

        Yes the Israelis were ecstatic when Morsi was overthrown and El Sisi took power.

  15. Shingo
    September 27, 2014, 5:37 pm

    J Street supported the letter, right alongside AIPAC. Another sign of JStreet as “AIPAC Lite” giving liberal cover for the Israel lobby agenda.

    Could J Street make any more of a fool of itself and hasten it’s own irrelevance? The only thing J Street has achieved is to reinforce the fact that Zionism is incompatible with human rights, equality, and liberal and progressive values.

  16. Ben TwoBits
    September 28, 2014, 3:34 am

    My concern is more the names of John Rockefeller and Harry Reid rather than Warren and Sanders. Who can tell what these criminals have up their sleeves, possibly jockeying for position or putting some pressure on AIPAC for more campaign contributions.

  17. ActivistGal
    September 30, 2014, 12:37 am

    I’m surprised by Rand Paul’s failure to sign this as well. He, together with Warren & Sanders, is giving out mixed messages. I’d say it’s way too early to count on these guys, but it’s certainly a start.

  18. JohnB
    September 30, 2014, 4:24 pm

    There must have been at least two snakes in Eden . . . one male and one female.

    Both Warren, to my astonishment, and Saunders (not at all news) were reported to have said very recently in regard to Gaza that ‘Israel has a right to defend itself.’ As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

    I grew up next to a family of the McCoys (Of the legendary feud.) who had moved to Ohio to try to escape the ‘right’ of the Hatfields to murder any and all McCoys in revenge for an affront long past. IMO, there is no such thing as a right, let alone a right to murder. I forget ‘who dunn whut’ originally.

    I doubt if I am the only one who requested that the Warren organization cease all mail and web contact with me as a response to these comments. I long since did likewise to Zio-Saunders. That both of them did not sign on to the letter is likely due to ‘many’ similar responses . . . enough to signal potential political doom to both.

    Different day, same scat . . .

    TO THE PEEL COMMISSION IN 1937 – “SIR” WINSTON CHURCHILL:
    “I do not agree that the dog in a manger [i.e., the Palestinians/Arabs – J.L.D.] has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of American or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.

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