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.