‘This occupation must end,’ Bernie Sanders says, in video to Israelis on 50th anniversary

US Politics
on 10 Comments

Bernie Sanders released a video in the last day decrying 50 years of occupation and saying that “brave people” in Israel’s leftleaning Meretz Party are all that will save the country from that occupation.

Brave people uniting around a common set of values with clear values can change a country, can change the world. They can even change the  Israeli Palestinian conflict. We are now in the 50th year of Israel’s occupation, an occupation which denies basic Palestinian rights while failing to deliver Israel real security. I know so many of you agree with me when I say that this occupation must end. As I said during my presidential campaign, peace, real peace means security not only for every Israeli, but also for every Palestinian.  It means supporting self determination, civil rights, and economic well being for both peoples. These are the ideas which should guide us, the values of equality, security, democracy and justice. I know that the Meretz Party shares those values.

The video is a speech to Meretz– “Israel’s most prominent political organization” — on the occasion of a party conference. The Vermont senator is on the far left of US mainstream politics on the Israel/Palestine issue, but he is also strongly supportive of Israel. He opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and has noted with pride that he went to Israel to work on a kibbutz in the 1960s, before moving to Vermont.

Most of his address to Meretz is a warning about racist, demagogic movements arising around the world. Sanders states that only a progressive movement that addresses people’s despair can defuse these forces.

“Meretz stands for many of the same values that progressives are fighting for here in the United States and around the world…. We observe with alarm the rise of racist intolerant authoritarian political movements. We have seen similar type movements in the past with all the agony and horror they have brought to the world. And together we stand united in doing everything we can to defeat these movements now and in the future. These movements have drawn strength from the fact the very rich get richer, while many people in the middle class and working class get poorer… many many people are living in despair and have lost faith in their systems of government.”

Sanders went on to denounce both corrupt elitists and racist demagogues. “We now see demagogues who are scapegoating minorities…. This is how demagogues work. They gain power by claiming to speak for the people’s legitimate desires… they really represent the very few.”

The real counter to demagogues is a “progressive vision of equality and prosperity,” a “politics of solidarity and a common humanity.” This must be an international movement, because “the forces or oligarchy operate at an international level.”

Sanders concluded that “equality, security, democracy and justice” are the values that should guide change and that Meretz shares these ideals.

Haaretz has covered the video as good news for Meretz, and quotes the Meretz chair saying that Sanders opposes the occupation because it represents racism and inequality.

Thanks to Dan Walsh.

About Philip Weiss

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

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10 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson
    June 4, 2017, 4:20 pm

    Please go to the video on YouTube and leave comments supportive of Bernie to counter the A-hole-like comments of the right-wingers!
    YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isYOSE_5aTk

  2. JosephA
    June 4, 2017, 4:36 pm

    I hope an Israeli political party can take that message to heart.

  3. festus
    June 4, 2017, 4:44 pm

    Classic Zionism lite. Concern about what the Occupation is doing to Israel; opposes BDS, the pretense that both sides are culpable. Bernie needs to get out of the way for those concerned with real justice.

    • eljay
      June 4, 2017, 6:24 pm

      || festus: Classic Zionism lite. … ||

      Yup. Ending the occupation is only the start of righting the wrongs of Zionism, but you won’t see Zionists – not even “liberal Zionists” – advocating:
      – repatriation of non-Jewish Israeli refugees to Israel;
      – accountability for past and on-going (war) crimes committed; or
      – the reform of Israel from a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews into a secular and democratic Israeli state of and for all its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    June 5, 2017, 10:23 am

    Does the collective ‘we’ have to wait until israel implodes on it’s own pathetic inhumanity?

  5. David Plimpton
    June 5, 2017, 2:01 pm

    Bernie’s comments are at least refreshing for an American politician, but disingenuous or worse, for some of the reasons mentioned in the comments. Bernie’s been around long enough to know nothing’s going to change in Israel for the foreseeable future because Israel has staked the deck against the Palestinians with decades of phony “negotiation”, and unquestioning support from the U.S. and the Israel Lobby (see Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Israel Lobby” and Alison Weir’s “Against Our Better Judgment”).

    Any significant progress toward a comprehensive agreement means changes in our leadership so that it works to take away the carrot and administer a stick, namely withdrawal of uncritical and unrequited financial, media and policy support for Israel, without asking anything in return Anyone who is an experienced and serious negotiator knows you have to level the playing field to succeed in bringing parties (including the Palestinian people, not just their corrupt leadership) to the table to work on a deal.

  6. David Plimpton
    June 5, 2017, 2:06 pm

    Bernie’s comments are at least refreshing for an American politician. But Bernie’s been around long enough to know nothing’s going to change in Israel for the foreseeable future because Israel has staked the deck against the Palestinians with decades of phony “negotiation”, and unquestioning support from the U.S. and the Israel Lobby (see Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Israel Lobby” and Alison Weir’s “Against Our Better Judgment”).

    Any significant progress toward a comprehensive agreement means changes in our leadership so that it works to take away the carrot and administer a stick, namely withdrawal of uncritical and unrequited financial, media and policy support for Israel, without asking anything in return. Anyone who is an experienced and serious negotiator knows you have to level the playing field to succeed in bringing parties (including the Palestinian people, not just their corrupt leadership) to the table to work on a deal.

    So, in that context, Bernie’s comments are just lip service for what he at least knows is a just cause. But I’d like to see him put his money where his mouth is — both call and vote for cutting off all our aid to Israel. Highly unlikely.

  7. JoeSmack
    June 5, 2017, 9:42 pm

    The reason he isn’t taking even stronger positions is not his fault, it is ours. The Palestine solidarity movement is held together with paper clips and stilts.

    • David Plimpton
      June 6, 2017, 9:43 am

      Not Bernie’s fault? He’s got seniority, credibility, a public forum. He’s got no excuse not to be well-informed. Could it be his background or a cultural or religious bias that makes him want to protect Israel and not hold it accountable? I don’t know him well enough to say, but it sure ain’t my fault or “our” fault. Talk about blame the victim! And why is the Palestinian solidarity movement so fragile? You guessed it — Israel and the Israel Lobby.

      • yonah fredman
        June 6, 2017, 7:07 pm

        Palestinian solidarity movement is so fragile at least partially because the cause of Islam and the cause of the Arab nation are fragile.

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