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Democrats and GOP are in a race to the bottom on Israel

on 39 Comments

The Bernie Sanders campaign has gone out with a whimper not a bang on Israel/Palestine. The “revolutionary” candidate who was pushed left by his base to say some sharply critical statements about Israel says the Democratic platform is the most progressive in the party’s history, but in fact its language on Israel is more rightwing than it’s ever been, and aside from Cornel West and Maya Berry getting to jaw about that at the last platform committee meeting, Sanders appears to have spent zero political capital on the question before joining the Clinton team.

We appear to be seeing the parties dueling one another to be further right on Israel. The Republican platform is even worse on the matter than the Dems and includes these clauses:
– “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.”
 — “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of our government to advance policies that reflect Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no daylight between America and Israel.”
— “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (‘BDS’) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel.”
The Dems also bash the BDS movement, though they merely leave out the occupation, which is now nearly 50 years old.
Chuck Spinney at Lobelog says Clinton is in direct competition with the Republicans, and he sees a political risk.

Despite the Democratic platform committee’s stuffing of the Palestinian Question, the draft Democratic platform says nothing comparable to the Republican language.  That silence may not go far enough to placate Hillary’s neocon crossovers.  So, Ms. Clinton may come under pressure to strengthen her already strong pro-Israel stance in an effort to outbid the Republicans in the war to win the anti-Trump Republican voters.

But in so doing, Clinton may drive Sanders’ supporters into throwing up their hands in disgust and staying home in November or voting for the Green or Libertarian candidates.

How this supposed “lesser of two evils” triangulates her way out of this cul de sac will be a fascinating spectacle in the Roman circus passing for a presidential election.

I’m not so sure about that risk. If you follow the money, Clinton has a lot to gain by taking such a stance. She has already promised Haim Saban, the top donor to her superpac, that she will fight BDS right alongside Republicans.
The Israel lobby is alive and well and it depends on big donors. Clinton can hope to make inroads with some of the Republican Jewish “donor class” that is so upset with Donald Trump that it is boycotting the convention. While Politico’s Alex Isenstadt and Goldmacher report that the GOP is desperate and trying to sell its soul to Sheldon Adelson:
Millions of dollars short and running out of time, organizers of the Republican National Convention have written an urgent request for $6 million to Las Vegas billionaire couple Sheldon and Miriam Adelson to cover the bills for next week’s festivities.

Adelson called on the US to nuke Iran, not long ago; and Saban and Adelson have worked in concert. So Hillary Clinton has a high bar to meet. Maybe this is why word is out that James Stavridis, a retired admiral now the dean of Tufts’ school of international relations, is being vetted as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton; the Jewish Telegraphic Agency tells us that he is a neoconservative darling who was a hawk on Iran.

In 2015, writing in Foreign Policy, he called for a defense treaty with Israel, citing what he said were the weaknesses in the Iran plan.

“We have to think through the execution of the agreement and what steps we can take to mitigate the ill effects of the plan,” he wrote. “At the top of the list should be seriously considering a formal alliance with Israel.”

Israel has resisted past U.S. overtures for a defense treaty, preferring independence when it comes to making security decisions.

Last summer, at the height of the battle led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to kill the Iran deal in Congress, Stavridis was the keynote speaker at an AIPAC fundraiser in Boston.

Meantime the Republican convention will feature orthodox Jewish NY figures: Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of that Kehilath Jeshurun will give an invocation. And former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who is also associated with KJ, will be speaking.

Says a political friend, “The view in Trumpworld is Israel for the Jews, America for Americans.”
Thanks to John V. Whitbeck.
Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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39 Responses

  1. Boomer on July 15, 2016, 5:40 pm

    I wonder if any 3rd party candidates have other ideas? Not that it matters: the MSM wouldn’t tell us.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on July 15, 2016, 6:28 pm

      Gary Johnson says he does not understand the non aggression principle. I miss Ron Paul so much. America had the chance to have a leader who would have truly changed our foreign policy. Now we are stuck with a rather ratchet set of candidates.

      • Mooser on July 15, 2016, 11:58 pm

        ” Now we are stuck with a rather ratchet set of candidates”

        A wrenching choice. Trump, of course, is always ready to crank it up another notch, and as for Hilary, she’s no Ron Pawl .

      • Boomer on July 16, 2016, 9:54 am

        @ Mooser, commenting on our “ratchet set of condidates.”

        “A wrenching choice. Trump, of course, is always ready to crank it up another notch, and as for Hilary, she’s no Ron Pawl.”

        When the gallows awaits, gallows humor is the best response.

      • Henry Norr on July 16, 2016, 11:03 am

        What’s wrong with Jill Stein of the Green Party?

        Here’s her “Statement on US Foreign Policy, Palestine-Israel, and BDS“:

        The Jill Stein campaign calls for ending support for governments committing war crimes and massive human rights violations, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

        It supports the BDS movement as a peaceful, nonviolent set of actions organized by civil society across the world aimed to end Israeli apartheid, occupation, war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.

        US foreign policy requires an emergency overhaul, from a program of total global military and economic domination, to a policy promoting international law, human rights and diplomacy. We must cease and desist from being, in the words of Martin Luther King, the greatest purveyor of violence world over. Our foreign policy currently serves war profiteers and fossil fuel companies, but not the American people or the cause of global justice, peace and security. Our failed wars of the past 14 years have cost us 5 trillion dollars, left over a million people dead in Iraq alone, and killed or maimed tens of thousands of US service men and women. Yet we – and the Middle East – are far less secure, not more secure.

        In addition to ending our catastrophic and immoral wars for oil and markets, we must stop aiding and abetting the human rights violations and war crimes of our allies who are also massively defying international law. This includes the Israeli government and the rulers of Saudi Arabia.

        With regard to Israel, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, demolitions, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace and human rights within Palestine and Israel, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights.

        Therefore, the Stein campaign calls for ending military and economic support for the Israeli government while it is committing war crimes and defying international law.

        In addition, the Stein campaign supports actions of nonviolent resistance to the policies of the occupation and of the Israeli apartheid regime, including those of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was endorsed by the Green Party of the United States in 2005 and is supported by thousands of civil society peace activists and organizations.

        Consistency in U.S. policy regarding human rights and international law will begin, but not end, with Palestine and Israel. I will apply this same approach to other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, among others.

        Finally, we call for establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of US support of human rights and international law violations to one based on justice and truth bringing all parties together as equals to seek workable solutions. A dedicated commitment to justice will further the security of all parties, Palestinians, Israelis, and all people in the region, much better than the current policies of politically, economically and militarily supporting the systemic and institutionalized abuse of one side against the other.

        We can build a better future together.

      • lysias on July 16, 2016, 11:12 am

        I’m voting for Jill Stein.

        Funny how the mainstream media engage in a conspiracy of silence about her.

      • Mooser on July 16, 2016, 12:16 pm

        “When the gallows awaits, gallows humor is the best response.”

        Well, I was sentenced to be shot at sunrise, which is why I never get up that early.
        But it’s true, “Boomer”; torque is cheap.

      • Boomer on July 16, 2016, 2:44 pm

        @ Henry Norr, “what’s wrong with Jill Stein”

        The platform you cite sounds good. I had not paid much attention to her, because I didn’t think she would be on the ballot where I live, but I see that I was wrong about that:

      • genesto on July 18, 2016, 6:49 pm

        I’m with Jill Stein too – especially after Bernie had what appears to be a major brain fart in endorsing HRC , even saying she would be a great President. And I though he was a ‘young’ 74!

        Vote Jill Stein, and try to get all your disaffected friends to do so too, even if they live in swing states! Really, how much more of a disaster is the crazy fascist Trump vs the lying, warmongering corporate shill that is Hillary? Right!

    • Spring Renouncer on July 17, 2016, 1:42 am

      Jill Stein of the Green Party is openly supportive of the Palestinian struggle and BDS, and opposes military aid and arms sales to Israel.

      Libertarians, on the other hand – though they may advocate for less unnecessary military engagements – are creepy reactionaries at their core. They won’t do much to improve the Palestinian situation considering their voters are mostly disaffected conservatives.

  2. Atlantaiconoclast on July 15, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Maybe if Trump wins, the Democrats will suddenly start caring about issues such as war and Palestinian rights and the sheer hell that the West, Israel, and the Sunni states have made of Syria. The current obsession with identity politics keeps the Democratic base from caring about the fact that their leaders are warmongers and enablers of occupation and destabilization in the ME.

    And maybe it is good that the RNC is being so crystal clear about its subservience to Israel. If there is no occupation, then how can Israel justify not making the residents of the West Bank full citizens? It is way past time for the leaders of the Free Palestine movement to use language in new ways to recapture the moral high ground, and to make it clear to Americans that support for Israel is not in our interest.

    Till that happens, nothing will change. I really hope to see Palestinians gain their full rights before I die, but as each year goes by, I see no progress, and am tired of hearing folks pretend that this movement is succeeding. Maybe the night truly is darkest before the dawn. Maybe Trump and Hillary’s cold calculation to serve the Zionist state will wake people up and stimulate a change in tactics.

    Yes, BDS has potential. But far more needs to be done to get people to use it to effect change. Not sure that enough people will ever care enough to fulfill BDS’s potential.

    Thus, I say appeal to Americans’ self interest. Focus like a laser beam on Israel’s crimes against the US and how it is the biggest welfare queen on the planet.

    • otc on July 17, 2016, 11:02 pm

      “Not sure that enough people will ever care enough to fulfill BDS’s potential”

      It seems to me there are two trends effecting BDS, in opposite directions. The first adds energy and momentum, the second saps it away.

      The first is Israel’s behavior and the growing awareness of that behavior.

      The second is the March of time away from the Iraq war, away from a possible confrontation with Iran or another major US military engagement. Many people only become interested in the I/P conflict as a result of the Iraq war and subsequent events.
      As that war recedes into history only the die hard activists will probably stay engaged, others will lose interest altogether, and for many others a desire to see a change in the Middle East will remain a velleity.

  3. DaBakr on July 15, 2016, 9:49 pm

    Lookstein cancelled.

  4. RoHa on July 16, 2016, 3:02 am

    “this supposed “lesser of two evils”

    Who supposes that Hillary is the lesser of the two evils?

    • silamcuz on July 16, 2016, 8:04 am

      I don’t view Hillary as evil at all. I understand she works in an evil system, and just as working in a dump will inevitably rub you with a funky smell, working within the fundamentally corrupt and amoral American political system will taint even the most honest, principled politician.

      Regardless, what does evil mean anyway? For me, the worst kind of evil person is an incompetent fool placed in a powerful position, for obvious reasons.

      • annie on July 17, 2016, 3:13 pm

        the worst kind of evil person is an incompetent fool placed in a powerful position

        i’d choose an incompetent fool over a competent war mongering genocidal maniac any day.

      • Keith on July 17, 2016, 5:25 pm

        ANNIE- “i’d choose an incompetent fool over a competent war mongering genocidal maniac any day.”

        Me too! The more effective evil is almost always worse than the less effective evil. When was the last time you ever heard anyone describe Hitler as “incompetent?”

      • silamcuz on July 19, 2016, 1:39 am

        i’d choose an incompetent fool over a competent war mongering genocidal maniac any day.

        Competence of a politician is relative to the objectives advanced by the American political institutions. If you claim a potential leader of this system to be highly competent in war mongering, genocide and being a maniac, that is more a fault of the system that demands and nurture such skillsets than the person themselves.

        In such cases, an incompetent fool placed in position of power doesn’t necessarily have to be less inclined towards war mongering, genocide and maniacal tendencies since that’s what the system demands. They would be merely be unable to effectively control and influence the process of warmongering and genocide that will take place regardless.

        This is what incompetence means. It doesn’t mean the person would be a loveable idiot who through his stupidity hinder the evil machinations of the system he leads.

        Your reasoning is therefore flawed, IMO.

      • annie on July 19, 2016, 5:39 am

        If you claim a potential leader of this system to be highly competent in war mongering, genocide and being a maniac, that is more a fault of the system that demands and nurture such skillsets than the person themselves…..Your reasoning is therefore flawed, IMO.

        i’d still choose an incompetent fool over a competent war mongering genocidal maniac any day.

      • silamcuz on July 19, 2016, 1:51 am

        The more effective evil is almost always worse than the less effective evil. When was the last time you ever heard anyone describe Hitler as “incompetent?”

        What is your definition of evil that can be classified as more or less effective?

        And as for Hitler, I would consider him to be quite incompetent judging from the the fact that he failed to achieve most of the objectives he set out for himself as the absolute leader of the Third Reich.

      • Keith on July 19, 2016, 12:14 pm

        SILAMCUZ- “They would be merely be unable to effectively control and influence the process of warmongering and genocide that will take place regardless.”

        A President who is “unable to effectively control” the implementation of the elite agenda is preferable to one who would effectively implement this disastrous agenda. You contradict yourself.

        SILAMCUZ- “And as for Hitler, I would consider him to be quite incompetent….”

        Really? Funny, I would describe Hitler and the Nazis as ruthlessly efficient mass-murderers. I suspect that most would agree with me. I have yet to hear people complain that Hitler and the Nazis were incompetent. The Nazis are usually depicted as being quite good at what they did. Unfortunately. And we are indeed fortunate that the USSR at great sacrifice was able to stop and effectively defeat Nazi Germany at the battle of Stalingrad, an example of Russian heroics, not German incompetence. And nothing you have said makes the case for a ruthlessly efficient warmonger as President.

    • lysias on July 16, 2016, 11:14 am

      Cackling after joking, “We came, we saw, he died” is the epitome of evil.

    • echinococcus on July 16, 2016, 1:21 pm


      The Democrats, including the “Liberal” crowd. The conservatives. Big monopoly capital. The neocons, i.e. the Zionist architects of the ongoing 20-year-and counting war. The vaginal identity politicians. Longish list.

  5. Raphael on July 16, 2016, 5:55 pm

    I’m voting for Hillary. The pro-Israel, Evangelicals, and Baptists etc., are a raving anti-semitic group… under the mask of Christian Zionism.

    • Mooser on July 16, 2016, 8:19 pm

      ” are a raving anti-semitic group… under the mask of Christian Zionism.”

      I got you Raphael! Good for you! You want the real Zionism, not that cut-rate imitation “Christian Zionism” (which is never any good). And if you want the real thing, Hilary is the place to get it.

      And the result is the same, hmmmm, maybe there’s madness in her Methodism.

  6. Kay24 on July 16, 2016, 10:12 pm

    Meanwhile Clinton maybe a few steps away from having Netanyahu/Israel have full access to the WH. They may be able to make their loyal servant/puppet drop bombs over Iran. Haim Saban is sure to get his money’s worth.

    Possible Clinton VP choice, an ex-NATO chief, slammed Iran deal and has close Israel ties

  7. Spring Renouncer on July 17, 2016, 1:48 am

    To Mondoweiss editors: since Sanders has sadly conceded, it is time for you to strike his face off of the banner of candidates. Jill Stein should be added to the banner too. . . let’s not be part of the mainstream campaign of censorship by omission against Stein.

    • Pixel on July 17, 2016, 1:45 pm


    • annie on July 17, 2016, 2:36 pm

      i’m voting for jill stein too. among other things she’s going to pardon snowden and appoint him to her cabinet.

      • Citizen on July 18, 2016, 1:50 pm

        Me too

    • echinococcus on July 17, 2016, 5:56 pm


      He has not “sadly” conceded, he was beaming.
      Had no reason to be otherwise: he’s brilliantly completed his mission of bringing the disgruntled back to the Democrat fold, as announced at the start, keeping them busy with nonsense until it is way too late for organizing a third party groundswell, and then brutally pushing the deluded starry-eyed things in the arms of the wink-wink-nudge-nudge selected candidate.

      No one has worked harder than Senator BS to keep Dr. Stein and any other third party candidate censored away.

  8. lysias on July 17, 2016, 9:12 am

    OT, but I don’t know where else to put this: There’s an article on the front page of today’s WaPo Metro section about large numbers of U.S. Jews becoming naturalized German citizens.

    • Bumblebye on July 17, 2016, 3:59 pm

      Interesting. I wonder if they’re just taking advantage of the right to claim a European passport or if they’re specifically from the Yiddish speaking demographic. I do recall reading (fairly recently) that Germany *does* fund religious buildings and religious schools and training – not restricted to a dominant religion. That’s got to appeal to some of the larger families who insist on a private religious education in the US!

      • echinococcus on July 17, 2016, 6:01 pm


        The “Yiddish-speaking demographic” aren’t German Jews, who speak Standard German (and sometimes one of the modern dialects of Germany.) Not Yiddish, which was the language of Eastern European Jewry (Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Bessarabia, Romania, Baltic States.) So presumably they wouldn’t be part of the people with a claim to a German passport.

  9. Ossinev on July 17, 2016, 11:56 am

    “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.”

    I am particularly intrigued by this comment. Logically it leads to the conclusion that if JSIL is not occupying another peoples land then the millions who are “not being occupied” are entitled to the same “Land of the Free” standard civil liberties and citizenship as the ” non occupiers.”

    But hang on a minute do Republicans do “logic” ?

    DaBakr you have commented on this article can you please do the honours.

  10. SonofDaffyDuck on July 18, 2016, 11:44 am

    Help me out here! I really don’t want to accept what my mind is telling me about the likes of Saban, Adelson,Singer and AIPAC. Tell me it isn’t true that these guys make Mideast policy and when my grandchildren will go to war and where…like miniature pawns on their chessboard!

    What is the difference between the Trumpists saying there is no occupation and the Hilarites describing Israel with no occupation???

  11. Talkback on July 18, 2016, 12:58 pm

    “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.”

    ROFL. The Republicans are even more out of touch with reality than Israel’s Supreme Court. But it shows their complete disregard of international law, the International Court of Justice and the position of every goverment in the world except the occupier’s.

    Poor people of the US. They can only vote for dumb or dumber. As usual.

  12. James Canning on July 18, 2016, 1:04 pm

    Israel occupies the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Ergo, Israel is an “occupier” of those areas.

  13. Citizen on July 18, 2016, 1:56 pm

    J-Street says GOP under Trump has rejected former policy on Israel & now supports a GreaterIsrael–to the right of Bibi!

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