Former Obama aide Tommy Vietor interviewed Senator Elizabeth Warren yesterday and asked a few questions about Israel. The fascination here is that someone who is so outspoken and eloquent on economic inequality, health care, Wall Street, government corruption and the horrors of Vietnam and Iraq turns into a conservative when it comes to a Jewish state administering Jim Crow over millions of second-class citizens. Warren doesn’t mention the occupation, or Palestinian conditions, repeatedly calls Israel a “liberal democracy,” says the U.S. should be “pushing” for a two-state solution but no no real pressure, i.e. sanctions. “We should not be putting chips on the table or taking them off.”
Worst of all, Warren parrots the “demographics” talk that would be the death penalty for a liberal politician in the United States. Imagine if a politician talked about how many black people or brown people are being born in her district or in the country as a threat to the country’s character?
[O]ver time realities are bearing down on Israel, demographic realities, births and deaths. What the region looks like.
When is this type of speech going to become off limits in the United States? This is the great thing about Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. They are Muslim women of color and they regard such talk as racist, as it is. Also, they are for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Here’s a portion of the transcript:
Tommy Vietor [former Obama spokesperson]: The first bill that the Senate put forward was a bill called S1 which did a whole bunch of stuff. It was military support to Israel. I think it was some policy towards Jordan, some additional sanctions in Syria, but then there was a really controversial provision that would allow state and municipal governments to punish companies that boycott, divest from, or place sanctions on Israel so so-called BDS Movement. Why did you oppose S1?
Elizabeth Warren: I opposed the boycott but I oppose a law that permits punishment of people who want to support the boycott. This is one where I stand with the ACLU…
I think the way we can be a good ally to Israel is we can push again toward a two state solution toward a long term solution in this area and look I get it. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world. It’s a liberal democracy. We don’t have a lot of allies over there that follow the liberal democratic traditions but a good ally urges friends to get together and work out a solution. And the Palestinians and the Israelis need to be back at the negotiating table. The United States should not be dictating terms. We should not be putting chips on the table or taking them off. But we should be pushing them to negotiate a two state solution….
I think we have to stop to acknowledge what has changed during the Trump administration. The pressure toward a two state solution obviously has gone away and in fact the whole publicly naming Jerusalem as the capital and moving our embassy. Took one of the things that should have been decided by the parties. It’s not our decision, it’s their decision and how they wanted to handle that. It made it very clear we’re standing on one side in these negotiations. And the problem with that is it. It doesn’t encourage negotiation…
[T]he way I see what you’re talking about is we have pushed it this far under the Obama administration and now Trump has completely reversed it. I don’t therefore draw the conclusion that what happened under the Obama administration was never going to work that you couldn’t keep pushing harder because over time realities are bearing down on Israel, demographic realities, births and deaths. What the region looks like and I think that that this is a moment not while Trump is in there playing the game that he’s playing but that the opportunity soon to get Israel back to the table and get the Palestinians back to the table. If we the United States can be an honest broker and can encourage again other nations other allies to help support that. I’m – I’m, I actually had just a little spark of-.
Tommy Vietor: Glimmer of hope
Elizabeth Warren: Optimism. Let’s call it a glimmer. Can we start with glimmer?
Tommy Vietor: When I look at Israel I look at Bibi Netanyahu putting up campaign signs that featuring take photos of him and President Trump. This weekend he released a TV ad attacking his opponent Benny Gantz and accusing him of colluding with Obama behind his back and it had this grainy darkened image of Obama. I’m just wondering, Does it worry you that such a close ally has fully aligned with one political party? The Republican Party.
Elizabeth Warren: Yes. No. This is the part that’s why I was talking about the difference between the two administrations. Yes. And I honestly– I, I don’t think it’s good for Israel. I mean I think it’s terrible for Israel and that that’s the direction he’s going…. [Though] Trump is not forever and neither is Netanyahu.
Sadly Warren is about as good as it gets on the Democratic left. She’s J Street. That last bit is the J Street line: The U.S. and Israel are in the same pickle, threatened by tyrants. We just have to get rid of Trump and Netanyahu to restore our great democracies.
You should also have noticed the repeated references to what’s good for Israel. “Honestly I don’t think this [Netanyahu] is good for Israel. I think this is terrible for Israel. ” As As’ad AbuKhalil observes: “Look how careful and even nervous she is in talking about Israel. She kept prefacing her halting remarks by ‘it isn’t good for Israel’. Who cares about those occupied by Israel.” Answer: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Bernie Sanders.
Also: “Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world. It’s a liberal democracy. We don’t have a lot of allies over there that follow the liberal democratic traditions” is Warren boilerplate, and rusty boilerplate. She used virtually the same words five years ago during the last big Gaza massacre. “Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”
Then, the claim about the peace process being a “glimmer” of hope! As if the U.S. were an “honest broker” under Obama and previous administrations. Who is kidding who? The peace process has been going on for 30 years and all it’s produced is more dispossession of Palestinian land. Jimmy Carter tried to stop settlements and paid a huge political price for doing so. Obama started and then stopped and then did a gentleman’s burp at the end. Warren endorses the Obama approach but is very careful not to blast settlements. Vietor four times mentioned settlements. Warren never said that word.
And yes, this is all about the donors. Zionist Jews are simply too important a donor bloc – “gigantic” to quote JJ Goldberg of the Forward; 60 percent of Democratic donors (and providing 75 percent of what Humphrey raised in ’68 and, sit down, 60 percent of Nixon’s campaign finances in ’72) per the late guru Ham Jordan— for Elizabeth Warren to answer these questions honestly. Just as she sidestepped the Gaza massacre five years ago, had to run to her car when someone asked her.
P.S. This demographic crap is not hard. Michelle Goldberg says, “It is very hard to explain to an American liberal, particularly someone who is on the left and young that basically the Palestinians should be denied their right to self-determination in perpetuity because otherwise it would threaten the demographic interest of the Jewish people. I don’t think leftists would accept that argument about any other people. I actually don’t think liberals would make that argument about any other people.” And nine years ago Ali Abunimah gave a famous speech, Israel’s problem is Palestinian babies. (Again and again, Abunimah has led this discourse.)