Trending Topics:

Bernie Sanders is ‘radical’ on economic policy but a pussycat for Israel

on 67 Comments

Yesterday on CSPAN I watched Bernie Sanders give a rousing speech in New Hampshire where he endorsed a “political revolution.” He called for “radical” changes to take on the corporations and the billionaires, including the government moving in to dismantle big Wall Street financial institutions. Sanders has long supported such action.

But if Bernie Sanders is a radical on economic changes in the United States, he is a pussycat when it comes to changes in Israel and Palestine. Five days ago, he gave an interview to Little Village, an alternative publication in Iowa, and endorsed continuing U.S. military aid to Israel and more economic aid to Palestinians. He did not condemn the Israeli occupation, but blamed actors on both sides of the conflict; and while rejecting Benjamin Netanyahu declined to endorse any of the leftwing programs re Israel, notably BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions. Here are some of his words:

I think what the United States needs is to have an evenhanded policy toward Israel and toward the Palestinians. What we need to guarantee and make certain is that Irael can exist in peace and security and that the Palestinians have their own independent state and an economy to allow their people to have a decent standard of living.

[Sanders notes that he boycotted Netanyahu’s speech last March to Congress because it was “a campaign ploy” and because he disagreed with “many of the policies he’s advocating.”]

What you need for that region, and god knows this conflict has been a horrendous conflict, it has gone on decade after decade after decade. I don’t know that anyone has any magical answer, but I think the role that the United States can play is to bring people together and develop a fair and evenhanded proposal toward both sides.

[Q. How do you approach the policy?]

Well look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have a magical solution that has eluded every president. This is tough stuff. And you have forces on both sides in terms of the Israel-Palestinian conflict who have been counterproductive, no question about it. I think that the best that we can do over a period of time is to try to bring the sides together.

Our goal should be to see more economic assistance to the people in that region rather than just military assistance. Right now the United States provides substantial amounts of military aid to both Israel and Egypt. I would hope that in years to come the amount of military aid could be reduced and in fact could be substituted with economic aide. There is a lot of economic misery within the Palestinian community. The recent war in Gaza made a terrible situation even worse. They need help and I would hope that we could move in that direction.

These answers are mealy-mouthed and deeply conservative. He never condemns Israeli actions, even the slaughter of 500 children a year ago. The answers tell me that Sanders really believes in a Jewish state and cuts Israel a giant break. He obviously looks on Palestinian resistance as terrorism. A far cry from his revolutionary ideas about the economy. Sanders would never say that income inequality is “tough stuff” and he doesn’t have a magic solution. He’s got the solution!

Sanders’s wishy-washiness on this issue underlines the importance of the Israel lobby theory. Here is a former radical who because he is a Zionist Jew in his 70s who as a young man moved to Israel before he moved to Vermont supports Israel in powerful arenas. This wildeyed socialist is part of the Israel lobby; and not because he wants to advance the US colonial empire or the military-industrial-complex, the default analysis of our Middle East policy on the left. No; he’s supporting Israel out of an emotional attachment, his belief in the Jewish state and its necessity in the 20th century. The materialist left would surely argue that people like Sanders aren’t important to American foreign policy, because that policy is being driven by corporate interests. But as a leftist with a socio-cultural-religious bent, I say that Sanders and his (and my) cohort, outsider Jews who entered fully into American privilege in the last 40 years, have had a sizable influence over blue state political culture. How do you explain the decision by a Berkeley city council member to fire a human welfare commissioner who has called for divestment from Israel? We’re talking abut the People’s Republic of Berkeley, not Halliburton or Washington DC. A city that has surely endorsed every leftwing idea of economic and environmental reform. But it’s rightwing on the Israel issue. Why? Because Zionists are inside the leftwing political culture even there. The Israel lobby is embedded on the left because Jews of a certain age who believe in Israel as a place of deliverance for a persecuted people are a critical component of the left.

In his speech yesterday Sanders spoke of voting against the Iraq war, and god bless him. He calls it Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld’s war. But he doesn’t call out the neoconservative braintrust that fomented that war. The U.S. lib/left will not come to terms with U.S. militarism until it confronts the neoconservative branch of the Israel lobby head on, and American Jews won’t come to terms with the warmakers in our midst, including Bernie Sanders’s support for the Gaza war, till it deals with the issue of Zionism. In the end, both conversations are about one real thing: unending U.S. support for Jim Crow in Palestine.

This is all going to break loose in 2016. Because young Democrats (women, people of color especially) have turned on Israel, and they will demand a voice.

Update. Initially I ascribed the firing of that Berkeley commissioner to the commission itself. Henry Norr informs me that a city council member fired her.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

67 Responses

  1. a blah chick on September 20, 2015, 12:19 pm

    Some have said that Sanders is too old to change. Well, I’m definitely more radical in my middle age than I ever was in my youth. I changed because I decided to start educating myself on the issues and discovered that I would never get the “full story” listening to mainstream news.

    Sanders is not an idiot, nor is he ill informed. He knows exactly what is going on with the Palestinians but has decided that his Jewish privileges are more important. You can be a lefty and a bigot.

    • Krauss on September 20, 2015, 12:52 pm

      Sanders is not an idiot, nor is he ill informed. He knows exactly what is going on with the Palestinians but has decided that his Jewish privileges are more important. You can be a lefty and a bigot.

      Exactly. I wish some Sanders supporters – and I am one – stopped excusing the man, claiming he is merely suffering from bouts of nostalgia of his youth, that he isn’t that interested in I/P in the first place and if we only educate him a little more he will change his mind etc.

      It’s all bull, guys, it’s all bull. Sanders is a very smart and informed man. He has chosen Jewish Apartheid over equal rights and we shouldn’t hide that fact. If you want to vote for a candidate in 2016 which isn’t supporting Jewish apartheid and has a smidgen of a chance to win, good luck. But just because they all do doesn’t mean we should let them off the hook – or excuse their behaviour.

      • echinococcus on September 20, 2015, 5:39 pm


        “wish some Sanders supporters – and I am one –”

        “It’s all bull, guys, it’s all bull. Sanders is a very smart and informed man. He has chosen Jewish Apartheid over equal rights and we shouldn’t hide that fact”

        Don’t hide the fact but vote for him, eh?
        No wonder it never gets better.

    • Citizen on September 20, 2015, 1:45 pm

      Yes, Bernie buys the notion that unless Israel exists as Israel exists currently, as a Jewish majority state at whatever cost to whomever, every Jew in the world has no safe haven, no insurance policy. Goy Beiden, about to declare his run for POTUS, said the same thing at AIPAC conference. GOP candidates are in; did U see Ann Coulter’s tweets on Twitter re GOP debate?

    • devonola on September 21, 2015, 3:30 pm

      Amen, a blah chick.

      The disconnect that his supporters suffer from is that his stance on domestic policies is just flowery talk as long as he supports the U.S. Foreign policy and more specifically supporting the apartheid state. So he talks a good game, but in the end it’s just empty words because everything that supports the apartheid state is what causes the problems with every domestic issue. Hope and change.

  2. Krauss on September 20, 2015, 12:46 pm

    How long will these non-answers fly with the progressive base?

    I don’t know that anyone has any magical answer, but I think the role that the United States can play is to bring people together and develop a fair and evenhanded proposal toward both sides.

    You can’t be evenhanded to two parties when one party is completely dominant and is colonising the other. That’s not being evenhanded. That’s being complicit in Apartheid.

    Well look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have a magical solution that has eluded every president. This is tough stuff.

    It is tough stuff. But it’s also simple stuff. Apartheid isn’t very complicated.

    Note again his repeated use of the term “magical solution”. Equal rights under the law isn’t a “magical” fairy tale. It’s a bedrock American value.
    This country fought a bloody civil war on this issue with terrible casualties.

    I don’t think Bernie’s insistence that anyone wanting to end Apartheid is pushing for “magical solutions” is going to last very long with the progressive base. Especially when U.S. complicity in said Jewish Apartheid is knee-deep, poltically, economically and militarily.

    • echinococcus on September 20, 2015, 5:45 pm

      I don’t think Bernie’s insistence that anyone wanting to end Apartheid is pushing for “magical solutions” is going to last very long with the progressive base

      I see. Because voting for a bastard that you know is a warmonger and a staunch Zionist and expecting anything to get better is not pushing for “magical solutions”, is it?
      Screw the “progressive base” if it votes for Sanders.

    • inbound39 on September 20, 2015, 8:08 pm

      “This is tough stuff”…..therein lies the BS and the smoke screen. America has always held the answer and the simple solution for solving the conflict. America simply needs to withhold all armament deliveries,weapons sales and F-35 deliveries until Israel complies with its obligations under International Law to the International Community. Once it withdraws in total from territory occupied,once it withdraws all its troops from occupied territory and once it implements Resolution 194 which it agreed to do in exchange for full UN Membership and once it publically states its expansionist policies are no longer being actioned then AID can be recommenced. Only defensive AID should be forthcoming. Kahanists which make up a large part of the settler community should Internationally be declared as a terrorist organization as Israel stated it would do during Meir Kahan years when Kachs allegedly was disbanded. It is long overdue that Israel should be made to find its own way in the World without hiding behind Americas skirts. Netanyahu forever informs us Israel is prosperous and making money hand over fist so therefore it should be able to pay for its own defenses like Iron Dome, Davids Sling etc. It should have no need for such large sums of American money unless it is taking the money under false pretences or maybe Netanyahu yet again is lying. Either way America has the ability to stop the Occupation anytime it likes. The World is aware of that and it is that awareness that continually erodes America’s credibility and Status internationally. Americas old behaviour no longer works for it and China and Russia are confronting America more and more and you can bet that if it hits the fan Israel troops will be nowhere to be seen supporting America if and should it fire up.Americans more and more are seen to be second fiddle to Israel…who is the Super Power here? Time America said enough to this BS. Americas old behaviours no longer work for it… needs a new game plan exempt and apart from Israel.

  3. echinococcus on September 20, 2015, 1:18 pm

    Also, he “voted against the Iraq war” but conveniently forgot that it was irrelevant, as he already had voted for Bush to have the War Powers, leaving Barbara Lee alone against all, that he voted a big Yes to the Iraq war budget and has supported every war since, especially those on the PNAC list.

  4. yourstruly on September 20, 2015, 2:03 pm

    Bernie Sanders has to be challenged at his rallies by a delegation of pro-Palestinian/anti-Zionist activists demanding that he reconsider his position on the I-P conflict, as well as his embrace of Wahhabi Saudi Arabia as the foremost U.S. ally in the Middle East. Will this tactic move Sanders, as it did when Black Lives Matter confronted him? Probably not, but until representatives from, say, Jewish Voices for Peace challenge him at his rallies, how will we know for sure?

    • RockyMissouri on September 21, 2015, 11:08 am

      The push has to come from Jewsish Voices for Peace united with likeminded allies. This is my only problem with Bernie, and it’s a big one.

  5. Donald on September 20, 2015, 2:03 pm

    How would you expect this issue to break loose in 2016? What are the young Democrats going to do specifically?

  6. pabelmont on September 20, 2015, 2:40 pm

    Pols may fight only a few big battles at a time, and it is no surprise that [1] they regard I/P as no big deal (they have much bigger fish to fry) and [2] not something to dilute their energies and power upon.

    So, disappointing but no surprise. And that’s assuming he has no emotional attachment to Israel. If he DOES, and I think he may do, then we’d expect him to hold tight to Israel.

  7. gitelsura on September 20, 2015, 2:47 pm

    I do think Bernie is ill-informed about Israel-Palestine, but willfully so. He does not want to enter the morass, and resorts to an “it’s too complicated” vagueness. Amazing contrast to his specificity and facts and figures when he deconstructs domestic economic issues.

    I hold out some hope that he can be educated, just as he was educated about institutionalized racism by Black Lives Matter activism.

    • just on September 20, 2015, 7:42 pm

      “I do think Bernie is ill-informed about Israel-Palestine, but willfully so.”

      With respect, that makes very little to no sense to me.

      How can he be “educated” @ this point?

      “… Is Sanders a Zionist? Here’s what he told Vox’s Ezra Klein:

      “A Zionist? What does that mean? Want to define what the word is? Do I think Israel has the right to exist? Yeah, I do. Do I believe that the United States should be playing an even-handed role in terms of its dealings with the Palestinian community in Israel? Absolutely I do.

      “Again, I think that you have volatile regions in the world, the Middle East is one of them, and the United States has got to work with other countries around the world to fight for Israel’s security and existence at the same time as we fight for a Palestinian state where the people in that country can enjoy a decent standard of living, which is certainly not the case right now. My long-term hope is that instead of pouring so much military aid into Israel, into Egypt, we can provide more economic aid to help improve the standard of living of the people in that area.”

      He will defend Israel to a hostile crowd, but will also fault Israel – and will shout down hecklers.

      At a town hall in Cabot, Vermont, during last summer’s Gaza war, a constituent commended Sanders for not signing onto a Senate resolution that solely blamed Hamas for the conflict, but wondered if he would “go further.”

      “Has Israel overreacted? Have they bombed UN facilities? The answer is yes, and that is terribly, terribly wrong,” Sanders said.

      “On the other hand – and there is another hand – you have a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel – a fact – and you know where some of those missiles are coming from. They’re coming from populated areas; that’s a fact. Hamas is using money that came into Gaza for construction purposes – and God knows they need roads and all the things that they need – and used some of that money to build these very sophisticated tunnels into Israel for military purposes.”

      Hecklers interrupted, some shouting epithets.

      “Excuse me, shut up, you don’t have the microphone,” Sanders said. “You asked the question, I’m answering it. This is called democracy. I am answering a question and I do not want to be disturbed.”…”

      C’mon, Bernie. Surely he knows what a Zionist is by now… he refuses to answer the question. It’s a BIG problem, imho.

      (Notice how he does not worry about security or anything approximating justice for the Palestinians…)

  8. ritzl on September 20, 2015, 3:51 pm

    How a candidate talks and acts on this one issue is the distillation of the candidate’s ability/corruptability and willingness to act on all the others.

    Only one question is necessary to ascertain and predict a given candidate’s future performance in the sought after office. The question can vary but only one is necessary.

    My personal fave is, “Do you support Israel slaughtering children in Gaza every other year?” The normal, indignant, uneqivocal answer (that would be automatically given on any other issue) is so self-evident that any weasel-y deviation or avoidance becomes the predictive glimpse into the candidate’s “malleability”/soul/future.

    PEP = Progressive Except Everything-I’m-Told-Not-To-Be-Progressive-On

    • just on September 20, 2015, 4:17 pm

      Agreed, ritzl.

      I am sick to death of the usual pandering to and for Israel boilerplate. There’s a cavern waiting to be filled with some real talk about Israel’s violent Occupation, massive and ongoing rape of Palestine, and their frequent massacres in Gaza. Not one Presidential/Congressional hopeful in my lifetime has stepped up to fill that space with any real concern about international law, UN resolutions, and Palestine/Palestinians. Not once have I ever heard that US hypocrisy wrt and coddling/enabling of Israel is actually a threat to US national security…

      All of this can and should be explained to the American people. It’s NOT anti-semitic to do so.

      • just on September 20, 2015, 6:42 pm

        If only the Democrats had a Jeremy Corbyn… and Democrats had a collective spine to demand one.

        Counterpunch has an article by Neve Gordon that’s well worth a read. He writes about the foul treatment that this gentleman is getting in the Israeli media.

        “Israel Up in Arms Over the Corbyn Threat”

      • oldgeezer on September 20, 2015, 7:34 pm

        Supremacy is the prime directive. Equality, fairness and justice is a threat to Israel and zionist aspirations.

        I actually had someone response to me on another website, that all people’s have had the opportunity to empire build. To deny the Jewish people their chance to empire build just because they were late to the game is antisemitic.

        As if humans and society never progress. Spare me the vile butchery and tribalism.

      • ritzl on September 21, 2015, 8:07 am

        Hi just. Well said.

        I think that the time is right for a US version of Corbyn. A clear alternative.

        Right now that role is being opportunistically being filled by Sanders, despite his history of fudges and hedges. He’s just the closest major party candidate to the need.

        But I can’t help but wonder what a Kucinich candidacy would look like in today’s political environment. I think he’d give Sanders a run as the alternative to biz as usual.

        There is a need out here, not currently being filled. An unease not being addressed.

        Maybe there’s a loud and unflinching crusader for “what should be” out there with Dennis’ history of consistent “people’s” advocacy who will give it a go this cycle.


  9. Misterioso on September 20, 2015, 3:56 pm

    Bernie Sanders has failed a major test that disqualifies him from leading the US in today’s world.

    It is glaringly obvious that Israel is an increasingly heavy millstone around America’s neck, a useless “ally” and a constant source of justifiable animosity towards us.

    In order to end the Israel/Palestinian/Arab conflict, the next president must have the courage and moral integrity to do whatever is necessary, including cutting off all US aid, applying economic and trade sanctions, diplomatic isolation, etc., to pressure Israel to fully comply with hard won international humanitarian law, e.g., the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statutes, which are binding on all UN members.

    Bottom line: Israel is belligerently, illegally and brutally occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan Heights and Lebanon’s Shebba Farms. Also, under international law (e.g., the Fourth Geneva Convention) Israel is still belligerently and illegally occupying the Gaza Strip. All of these occupations must end and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem must be achieved. There is no special provision in international law that enables Israel to violate it with impunity.

    The world is growing increasingly angry at and disgusted with Israel. The US must take the lead and do what is right for America, the region, the world and in the long run, for Jews everywhere.

    • inbound39 on September 20, 2015, 8:26 pm

      Yep….people say the Two State solution is dead….lol……all it took was a majority agreement…..coupla signatures on a piece of paper and Palestine was carved up making one section Israel. States are created that easily. To say otherwise is untrue and misleading. Demographics need not matter either. Settlers can remain within Palestines borders if they become Palestinian Citizens subject to Palestinian Law. Dual citizenship should not be allowed because settlers will naturally use that to cause trouble and interference. Palestine should also be allowed a defence force. Lord knows they will need it given historically Israel has ALWAYS been a threat to Palestine. Even an international Force could defend the borders but under no circumstances should Palestinians be left with no means of defence….it is a violation of sovereignty to deny it to them.

  10. Keith on September 20, 2015, 4:02 pm

    PHIL- “Five days ago, he gave an interview to Little Village, an alternative publication in Iowa, and endorsed continuing U.S. military aid to Israel….”

    His militarism extends well beyond Israel and lately includes support for Saudi aggression against Yemen, even calling for Saudi Arabia to become more involved in “fighting terrorism,” a preposterous position for anyone except a hard core neocon militarist. A quote follows where Sanders encourages Saudi Arabia to “get their hands dirty.”

    “Even worse, after the Saudis started bombing Yemen with U.S. government backing earlier this year, killing thousands and leading to what the UN is now calling a “humanitarian catastrophe,” and suffering that is “almost incomprehensible,” Sanders continued. In another interview, again with Wolf Blitzer in May, Sanders did correctly note that as a result of the Iraq invasion, “we’ve destabilized the region, we’ve given rise to Al-Qaeda, ISIS.” But then he actually called for more intervention: “What we need now, and this is not easy stuff, I think the President is trying, you need to bring together an international coalition, Wolf, led by the Muslim countries themselves! Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world, they’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is [a] fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.” (Sam Husseini)

  11. JLewisDickerson on September 20, 2015, 6:22 pm

    RE: “Bernie Sanders . . . is a pussycat when it comes to changes in Israel and Palestine. Five days ago, he gave an interview to Little Village, an alternative publication in Iowa, and endorsed continuing U.S. military aid to Israel and more economic aid to Palestinians. He did not condemn the Israeli occupation, but blamed actors on both sides of the conflict; and while rejecting Benjamin Netanyahu declined to endorse any of the leftwing programs re Israel, notably BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions.” ~ Weiss

    MEANWHILE, ISRAEL IS ABOUT TO OFFICIALLY BECOMES A POLICE STATE (with the Dawabsha murders ironically having served as Israel’s Reichstag fire)! ! !
    If this passes the Knesset, there will be no turning back.*

    * SEE: “8 ways ‘terror’ as Israel knows it may be about to change” | By Marissa Newman | | September 18, 2015
    A new bill expands the definition of terror and who is engaged in it; doesn’t differentiate between Jews, Palestinians and attacks on soldiers, civilians; and toughens jail sentences

    [EXCERPT] When two Jewish arsonists torched a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem, Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel railed against the dangers of arson and the severity of the crime. Although no injuries were sustained in the Hand in Hand school attack in November 2014, “there is no way of knowing how a fire will spread, who or what it will hurt, and with what force. A person who sets a fire cannot keep it from spreading, and the dangers involved are great: one knows how it starts, but not how it ends,” he wrote in the March indictment.

    That observation – which preceded by six months the deadly arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed, and the arson attack on the Church of Loaves and Fishes by three months – is cited in a footnote of Knesset legislation on new sweeping counterterrorism measures which passed its first reading two weeks ago and which for the first time anchors in law that attacks on religious sites and arson constitute acts of “terror.”

    In its current draft (which will likely be tweaked by the Knesset’s Constitution, Justice and Law committee before its next readings), the controversial laws do not distinguish between Palestinian and Jewish terror, nor between attacks on soldiers and those on civilians. It doubles jail time for terrorists, broadens the definition of “terror” considerably, and gives the Shin Bet leeway in holding suspects without charges.

    The 100 pages of legislation have been floating around the Knesset since 2011, drafted and redrafted, and approved several years ago for a first reading, but never brought to the second and third readings needed to pass it into law. The bill would entirely overhaul the legal system’s treatment of terror suspects, supplanting the British mandate-era laws adapted into Israeli law in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel.

    With both coalition and opposition support, the bill’s first reading was approved 45-14, amid fierce objections by some rights groups and members of Meretz and the Joint (Arab) List. The vote, held early in a special summer recess session after the Duma attack, came after a year that saw an unremitting stretch of stabbings, car-ramming attacks, shootings, firebombings, stone-throwing, and vandalism, primarily in Jerusalem and the West Bank, which left 18 people dead and dozens injured.

    (As of Thursday, it was not immediately clear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to advance legislation permitting the use of live fire against rioters and harsher penalties against stone-throwers was set to be incorporated into the sweeping anti-terror bill or presented to the Knesset as a separate proposal. The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request for comment). . .


  12. John Douglas on September 20, 2015, 7:05 pm

    Thomas Jefferson, following Locke, proposed a set of ideas that he most likely believed in but was unable to apply to his own personal ownership of slaves. Those ideals went on to form the basis of today’s abhorrence of slavery. Sanders is in the same place. Those of his ideas that a fresh to American politics, if applied to Israeli apartheid, would require its elimination. In addition, what other candidate of either party will state as he did, and be accountable for, that the US policy toward I-P should be even-handed? From the standpoint of we M-Wers he’s imperfect. But he’s a far cry from the others, certainly including Hilary.

    • tokyobk on September 20, 2015, 8:09 pm

      You are right, imo.

    • echinococcus on September 20, 2015, 8:11 pm

      No need for great philosophers or Jefferson. Sanders has no “ideas that a fresh to American politics” –we always have an opportunist populist mountebank who calls the disgruntled to vote for the “lesser” evil. It’s a tradition. Nothing fresh there, all have said it, Wallace and Jackson and Kucinich etc. etc.

      “if applied to Israeli apartheid, would require its elimination.”
      Bah, Bush father and son and holy brother, and Hillary the Eye-gouging empress, and Trump are all agreed on the American principles of equality. None do a thing about it. So what was so special with this two-bit Zionist the Sanders guy?

    • MHughes976 on September 21, 2015, 5:01 am

      Jefferson said, as I recall, that holding slaves was like holding a wolf by the ears – it would be very dangerous to let go, though in the end you would have to. Perhaps this was an expression of sympathy with the recolonisation, back to Africa, projects of the time. Certainly he was setting great store by the security of the dominant group, which corresponds to certain arguments about Palestine current at the moment which Sanders may find persuasive.

  13. Kathleen on September 20, 2015, 7:37 pm

    Granted Sanders has always gone along with Israel and the I lobbies wishes. However he did vote against the 2002 Iraq war resolution and is voting for the Iran deal. The for Iran deal is a big step away from Israel/

    Just how far would Sanders or any candidate get if they were to play hardball on this issue? Ok there has been a great deal of progress in many communities about acknowledging just what the facts are on the ground. Yet no one NO ONE has tested the grounds of being totally and brutally frank about this issue when they have been running for office. NO ONE.

    “Mealy mouth?” “The recent war in Gaza made a terrible situation even worse. They need help and I would hope that we would move in that direction” What else could Sanders have gotten away with?

    Israel responds or strikes in very brutal and disproportionate ways. Israel conducted a massacre in Gaza. What else could he in reality get away with at this point in time.

    Of course most of us here would like someone to try. Clearly not likely. The reality is we are not going to get anyone better than Sanders at this point.

    • just on September 20, 2015, 7:47 pm

      Never say never…

    • JWalters on September 20, 2015, 8:13 pm

      Very good points. The facts of what Sanders has said are clear. But they must be understood in the current context. Any politician in any even modestly sized town who speaks up against Israel’s actions will be unceremoniously crushed. They probably won’t even get into office. Their character will be assassinated in the public discourse. ALL political discussion show hosts and ALL their guests will pillory them relentlessly. (And in the background there’s the USS Liberty coverup, and JKF a bit before that.)

      So how might a politician proceed in such a situation? When everyone was wondering if any member of Congress would dare not attend Netanyahu’s speech, Sanders was the first Senator to announce he would not attend. That perhaps broke the ice; more Senators followed. In the face of Netanyahu’s hysteria about the international peace agreement with Iran, Sanders was one of the first Senators to declare his strong support for the agreement. Again he helped pave the way for other members of Congress to make this “extremely difficult” decision. “Extremely difficult” we all know solely because of the immense Israeli financial pressure exerted on these members of the American government.

      When Sanders spoke at Liberty University he was passionate about equal rights for all people, regardless of religion or race. This is the opposite of Israeli policy, and he surely knows that. It’s been exactly this type of talk from Obama that has earned him hatred in Israel. It’s obvious that one can’t include equal rights for Muslims and still support Israel’s core policies. But the Israelis cannot suppress speech supporting equal justice for all religions in America, at least not yet.

      At some point this debate will bust out into the open, and I suspect we’ll see MANY people eagerly jump into laying out the historical facts and the logic of justice, including Obama, Sanders, and some political talk show hosts I can think of. For the time being, everybody is keeping their head down and their powder dry. Little things are being said, pushing the envelope in small ways, taking back little bits of free speech territory. It seems to me things are getting ripe. Op-ed writers are behind their readers, at least in print, for now. The avalanche may be set off by some local uprising with a large grass-roots force behind it, perhaps in a university community, perhaps Berkeley.

      • ckg on September 21, 2015, 9:45 am

        I/P will certainly become an issue in the general election. Republicans recognize it as a classic wedge issue: one party is unified in supporting a position while the other party, or at least the rank and file, is divided. In the Democratic nomination contest the candidates will safely try to say as little as possible about the issue to avoid alienating any supporters. But then in the general election the GOP nominee will mention Israel every day, and if history is any indication, the Democratic nominee will try to prove he or she supports Israel even more than the GOP candidate.

      • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 7:14 pm

        I hope I/P will become an issue in the 2016 election. And if it does, your estimate of the Israeli/Republican strategy is probably right, as well as the tack of many Democrats. But having it be an issue will be a big step forward. It will open up a discussion, with the opportunity to bring facts to the American public. When people who have been conned find out they have been conned, they can get VERY upset VERY fast.

    • Linda J on September 20, 2015, 9:42 pm

      Yes, “we are not going to get anyone better than Sanders” — because we ALWAYS give in and vote for the lesser evil.

      Jill Stein is running for President too. Her policy includes these words: “Material progress will be understood to include but not be limited to an end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias, and recognition of the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

      We will not “get anyone better than Sanders” if we keep ACCEPTING this crap.

      Elections should be tools to build movements in support of the issues we support. Not bowing our heads, and taking what ever unprincipled creep they shove down our throats.

      • Kathleen on September 20, 2015, 11:21 pm

        Don’t know much about Stein. Her stance on the I/P issue sounds spot on. However we are never going to get Stein. Stand on “we are not going to get anyone better than Sanders” who has come a very long way. The Sanders movement continues to grow.

        How is it going for Stein?

    • echinococcus on September 21, 2015, 12:42 am


      The Iran deal is just as pro-Israel and nearly as aggressive as the Likud solution. It establishes that no country can rely on the NPT for its legal energy needs; it establishes a right of the Zionist entity to threaten the entire the entire world with hundreds of megabombs, unchecked. It prepares for a war of aggression on Iran just as the disarmament treaties with Iraq prepared the Iraq war, and all this is for Zionism. Sanders went along with all that, not dissociating himself once.
      What’s the point in “getting” Sanders if you’ll have the same old stuff?

      • Kathleen on September 21, 2015, 4:20 pm

        On the middle east Sanders is basically the same old stuff. With the exception that he did come out early on and support the Iran deal. Clear on his vote against the 2002 Iraq war resolution. This is still hanging over Clinton even though no one wants to bring it up. Then her warmongering in Syria, Libya. She is a hawk.

        Betting Obama will come out within the year pushing for Israel, Pakistan, India to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty. Would put money on it.

    • RockyMissouri on September 21, 2015, 11:31 am

      Thank you.. You have clarified things for me and I am grateful.

    • Rusty Pipes on September 22, 2015, 9:11 pm

      In 2004, when Howard Dean called for an evenhanded approach to Israel and Palestine, he was attacked so viciously by the Lobby that he had to walk back his statement. Ultimately, his campaign was distorted and dismissed by the MSM and tanked by the Democratic establishment. No matter what Netanyahu and the Israeli Right have done to Israel’s image, calling for an evenhanded policy is still further out than the MSM or the Democratic Party establishment is willing to go.

      Calling for bringing the parties together for talks is so twenty years ago and yet it is considered the safe Liberal Democrat position. Even so, decreasing or ending US military aid to Israel is not a safe position. Yet that is what Sanders advocates in the interview — couched as optimally phasing out military aid and replacing it with aid to help build the Palestinian economy.

      Sanders is not going to get out too far ahead of Obama on foreign policy, even where he has some differences with him. The exceptions might be in cases where he can connect foreign policy with his domestic economic agenda.

  14. yourstruly on September 20, 2015, 8:29 pm

    Once again, Bernie Sanders must be challenged by anti-Zionist activists on the issue of Israel/Palestine, if for no other reason than to make I/P a campaign issue. Somehow we have to convince the public that peace in the Middle East begins with justice for Palestine, that without said peace we face a continuation of all the multiple permanent wars in the region, wars that are so costly they’ll leave little to nothing for President Sander’s to fulfill his promises re: economic justice. Our challenging Sanders will enable us not only to raise the I/P issue, but to motivate the public into joining us activists in pressuring Sanders to get with it.

    • just on September 20, 2015, 8:35 pm

      +1, yourstruly!!!

    • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 2:21 am

      I agree on the goal of making I/P a campaign issue. But ALL the candidates of BOTH parties should be challenged. Singling out Sanders because he may be the most responsive is bad tactically. He should be given a chance to rise from the debris when the sh*t hits the fan, for the reasons given above.

      I’d suggest asking each candidate for their view of the Nakba. Several first-person articles here at Mondoweiss have described how Zionists became anti-Zionists when they learned about the Nakba. It’s grotesque injustice is that shocking. Once Americans know about the Nakba it’ll be a whole new ball game.

      • Citizen on September 21, 2015, 8:40 am

        I won’t hold my breath waiting for the main stream media to inform the public of consenting voters about the Nakba. Instead, they will be continually informed how each cycle of violence begins with HAMAS firing rockets into Israel indiscriminately.

      • csutter on September 21, 2015, 12:14 pm


      • Kathleen on September 21, 2015, 12:33 pm

        “all the candidates of both parties should be challenged” Yes indeed. We know what the bulk of their responses will be. Starting at Israel has every right to protect themselves, of course never really addressing Israel’s aggression, illegal settlements , dispossession of homes, property, lives, massacre in Gaza (although Bernie did mention it in stronger terms than most) Palestinian refugees etc etc. We will hear them say that Israel deserves more weapons, funding support. Although if I am remembering correctly Bernie did say something about cutting U.S. aid to Israel and Egypt.

        So will run the gambit from Carly Fiorina, Trump, Walker wanting to give Israel the bank to Bernie saying while the issue is really difficult we should try to be more “even handed”

        However they should all be asked

      • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 7:28 pm

        Citizen, I agree the mainstream media won’t initiate much truthtelling about Israel and Palestine. It seems to me that will have to come from the grassroots, which in practice means college students. A massive wave of student protests turned the tide on the Vietnam war. Student protests can inform people, pressure faculty members, pressure city councils, pressure local media, and push the facts into greater public awareness. And today the internet is an added powerful tool to use in that effort. Once the truth is out, like toothpaste, it’s hard to get back in the tube. This is the Israelis’ greatest fear.

  15. DaBakr on September 20, 2015, 10:09 pm

    PW byline says it all. Period.

  16. wondering jew on September 20, 2015, 11:04 pm

    “who as a young man moved to Israel before he moved to Vermont” – See more at: How much time did Sanders spend on that kibbutz? Was it a full year? Yes, as he was packing his suitcases, he might have been thinking, this is a difficult move, but he (probably, do you know different) was only planning to experience what is known as travel, and six months or even a year on kibbutz is not called a move, but an experience. This is Phil Weiss putting a spin on events, not a description of the events.

  17. Henry Norr on September 21, 2015, 7:57 am

    >>How do you explain the decision by the Berkeley Human Welfare and Community Action Commission to fire a commissioner who has called for divestment from Israel?

    You don’t – the Commission made no such decision! The commissioner who introduced the divestment resolution, Cheryl Davila, was fired by the City Council member who appointed her, Darryl Moore, not by her fellow commissioners. Most of them turned out to be pretty wishy-washy on the resolution, but they can’t be blamed for firing Ms. Davila – in fact, it seemed pretty clear to me, at the commission meeting, that they too were shocked and no doubt intimidated by Moore’s action.

    I’ve lived in Berkeley for 20 years. People need to understand that while a majority of the city’s residents are in some sense liberal, the place is in no sense a “People’s Republic.” In fact, the city government has been run for generations by a political machine, currently headed by Mayor Tom Bates and his wife, state Senator Loni Hancock. (He used to be the senator and she the mayor, but when the state’s term limits forced him out, they traded jobs.) The machine is only modestly liberal, it’s deeply beholden to the big real-estate developers (Bates once was one), and it has always fought grassroots efforts to make any kind of gesture that’s critical of Israel. Their machine, by the way, was closely linked to former US Rep. Ron Dellums and now to his successor, Rep. Barbara Lee, both of whom have also consistently refused to do much of anything that would offend their liberal Zionist supporters.

  18. bryan on September 21, 2015, 8:21 am

    I may not like it, but I can fully understand Bernie’s entirely rational stance.

    Politics as so many people, including Finkelstein, have insisted is the art of the possible; and in the current American “intellectual” climate a ringing endorsement of Palestinian rights would immediately discredit him with the majority of Democrats and Independents, and even with the politically disengaged – not to mention the mass-media.

    Corbyn MAY be able to combine an anti-austerity, anti-corporatist, anti-militarist agenda with an exceedingly progressive stance on Palestine, including a boycott of arms sales, but if he can pull this one off (far from certain) he will do so only because he has transformed the political landscape in the UK with an anti-spin campaign based on long-standing principles and intellectual consistency, and has drawn support from a disillusioned sector of the population for his decades-long espousal of supposed lost-causes, which in the aftermath of Iraq, global meltdown and Gaza are now being increasingly viewed as vindicated. Besides the British Labour Party and indeed the British people look far more favourably on internationalism and support for the oppressed of the world, and are far more inclined to reject brute military force than ever will our trans-Atlantic cousins.

    Though many here are enormously attached, and quite rightly, to the single issue of Middle East peace and justice, there is far more to be lost than gained by even raising the issue in an American context. Politicians will seldom lose votes by railing about the Mexicans, the Russians, the Chinese, the Arabs, even the French, but who seriously gives a damn about Foreign Policy issues, apart from the arms dealers and the Zionist lobby and the Evangelicals, all of whom oppose justice for Palestinians. Sanders has demonstrated, for instance in his recent speech at Falwell’s Liberty University, and elsewhere, that a message of moral outrage at the iniquities of the American social and economic system will play out well with American citizens with all their diversity. He would be foolish to undermine this by a “crusade”, however righteous, for a small foreign minority for which Americans have next-to-no sympathy.

    Even the very modest “pussycat” remarks highlighted here are far more progressive than the stances of mainstream Republican and Democratic candidates. Barack Obama offered even more anodyne comments prior to his successful election about supporting Israelis and Palestinians determined to achieve “security and peace”, though this was less important than ensuring than Iran could never attained nuclear weapons. Granted there have been small changes since then but there is still along way to go in exposing the influence of the lobby and in gaining acceptance for BDS before any USA presidential candidate can legitimately focus criticism on the Occupation regime.

    Besides, if Bernie is to gain any traction for his economic and social agenda it will only be by reengaging the silent majority of Americans in the political process, getting out the vote and building a consensus for change in the US. If he could achieve this, against all the odds, then focus could be moved from the domestic to the international arena, with some sort of counter-balance in place to an oppressive Establishment orthodoxy. After all justice, far more than charity, begins at home.

    • annie on September 21, 2015, 12:49 pm

      Corbyn….if he can pull this one off (far from certain) he will do so only because he has transformed the political landscape in the UK with an anti-spin campaign based on long-standing principles and intellectual consistency, and has drawn support from a disillusioned sector of the population for his decades-long espousal of supposed lost-causes….

      hmm, not so sure about that? have you been following #piggate? it is trending y’know. he could pull it off w/a little help from david cameron.

      a small foreign minority for which Americans have next-to-no sympathy.

      clearly you’re not in touch w/what’s happening on campuses all across this country. or don’t our youth count as “americans”.

      • bryan on September 22, 2015, 10:34 am

        #piggate is no more than malicious gossip from a slighted political rival. It was yesterday’s news and will rapidly fade into oblivion (presumably what trending on twitter means?) A YouGov poll found only 4% of Conservative voters considered it even a legitimate matter of public concern. Understandably, some of his political opponents, especially Scottish Nationalists, attach more weight to it (as an excellent example of the effete degeneracy of the old Etonian ruling elite), but they have far weightier criticisms to make than his alleged adolescent delinquency. (see

        OK I admit to exaggerating outrageously about next-to-no American sympathy for Palestine. Gallop claimed “Americans’ sympathies lean heavily toward the Israelis over the Palestinians, 64% vs. 12%” though the position may have changed marginally since their polling date is over two years old. (see As a candidate I think he can be excused failing to emphasize the rights of a few million Palestinians when that would recklessly endanger the much larger battle he engages in for the health, homes, welfare, jobs and incomes of hundreds of millions of Americans. Were he to achieve office that would be a different matter – he should of course contribute to the struggle for justice, human rights, peace and international law in the Middle East. But isn’t that part of the enigma of presidential politics: you struggle on a domestic battlefield to attain an office where your influence will be primarily in the foreign arena.

  19. biggerjake on September 21, 2015, 8:30 am

    We need a pro-Palestine PAC that will run ads against pols who support Israel unconditionally.

    And we need someone like Phil to run for the senate…..

    • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 7:36 pm

      Yes! And for pols who will stand up to Israeli tyranny, which is crushing America’s freedom of speech and democracy, leading America around by the nose, and squandering its resources and people for war profits.

      And yes, Phil would be a great Senate candidate.

  20. hophmi on September 21, 2015, 8:35 am

    Listen, you guys are obviously part of the 3 or 4 percent of Americans for whom Israel is the most important issue. If you don’t like Bernie Sanders, don’t vote for him.

    • annie on September 21, 2015, 12:40 pm

      is that your hunch? the 3-4%? or did you read it in a poll somewhere? and if it’s not important to you why are you here all the time? part of your alleged 3-4%?

  21. James Canning on September 21, 2015, 1:39 pm

    Bernie Sanders supports an independent Palestine. Giving Israel huge amounts of weapons probably does nothing toward achieving this goal.

    • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 7:49 pm

      Those weapons will be of little use when Israel’s moral credibility and control go down the toilet. If they tactically help get to that point, it will be a worthwhile trade-off.

  22. Citizen on September 21, 2015, 1:44 pm

    Hard to believe Bernie Sanders doesn’t know what this big establishment American Jew knows:
    Bernie’s a creep.

    • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 7:41 pm

      Thanks for the link. We definitely need more people like him speaking out to advance the discussion. But even he doesn’t get on any mainstream shows. And would he speak so openly if he were trying to get elected to a major office?

  23. ckg on September 21, 2015, 10:12 pm

    Lincoln Chafee is being interviewed on C-SPAN. When asked what the number one priority of the new president should be he responded endless wars. He said the country faces many domestic problems but the president needs to focus on ending these conflicts and bringing our resources home.

    • just on September 21, 2015, 10:30 pm

      Thanks, ckg.

      I watched that, too. He’s right, of course. He really is a man of principle.

  24. ckg on September 22, 2015, 10:48 am

    In 2006 Chafee told John Bolton that one of the root causes of our problems in the Middle East, rather than “terrorism” as Bolton believed, is our failure to make progress on a “viable, contiguous Palestinian state existing peacefully, side-by-side next to Israel.”

    Some have argued that Chafee, rather than Sanders or Rand Paul, is Ron Paul’s foreign policy heir.

    • James Canning on September 22, 2015, 6:10 pm

      Chafee was of course correct.

    • lysias on September 22, 2015, 6:34 pm

      Trump finally makes sense on something. He says he would have no objection to Putin going into Syria and striking ISIS. RUMP: ‘I DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW’ EVERYTHING I WOULD DO ON SYRIA.

    • Rusty Pipes on September 22, 2015, 8:40 pm

      At this point, six Democratic debates are scheduled. I hope that Chafee raises this issue in the debates for as long as he is a candidate. It would be refreshing to see a former Republican pushing the other Democratic candidates from the left on this issue. It would also force the MSM to acknowledge that this message resonates with a growing portion of the Democratic base.

  25. lysias on September 23, 2015, 10:05 am

    They’ll probably find a way to exclude Chafee from the debates the way they did it for Mike Gravel and later Dennis Kucinich.

Leave a Reply