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O’Rourke says special relationship with Israel goes against US values of equality and dignity

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On Wednesday night, Beto O’Rourke spoke at the University of New Hampshire and said that Palestinian conditions don’t meet American values of “fundamental human rights and human dignity” and that the relationship with Israel is hurting America’s image in the world.

Asked if he would condemn Israeli, Saudi and Turkish human rights violation, O’Rourke said:

These truths that we hold so dear — that we are all created equal– “all of us” needs to mean, “All of us,” not relationships of convenience for short term security gains but relationships that allow us to continue to be the example for so much of the rest of the world. And we cannot be that if we do not believe in the fundamental human rights and human dignity and safety of our fellow human beings regardless of what side of the line they may stand or sit on.

The only way that I know that we can help to secure that in the Middle East specifically with the Palestinian Authority and Israel is to have two states whose people are guaranteed their security, their safety, their dignity and their political rights. Right now of course we do not have that.

O’Rourke was responding to a Palestinian-American woman. “As an American who stands for the ideals that this country was supposedly built on, dignity justice and equality, I really want those ideals to be seen in Israel and Palestine for both Palestinians and Israelis,” she said, and then went on to ask O’Rourke if he would “hold Israel accountable for its human rights and international law violations,” as well as Turkey and Saudi Arabia too. She was cheered by the crowed.

Then O’Rourke went on for a couple of minutes in this video posted to Facebook on Wednesday by the questioner.

Thank you for your questions and the way in which you posed them and the context that you provided for everyone here. You’re right, we’ve got this opportunity to live our values. And these truths that we hold so dear, that we are all created equal. All of us needs to mean, All of us, not relationships of convenience for short term security gains but relationships that allow us to continue to be the example for so much of the rest of the world. And we cannot be that if we do not believe in the fundamental human rights and human dignity and safety of our fellow human beings regardless of what side of the line they may stand or sit on.

The only way that I know that we can help to secure that in the Middle East specifically with the Palestinian Authority and Israel is to have two states whose people are guaranteed their security, their safety, their dignity and their political rights. Right now of course we do not have that. And we have problems on both sides. I don’t know that we have a willing partner on the part of the Palestinian Authority.

I know that in Prime Minister Netanyahu we have someone who has openly sided with racists in that country, someone who has warned about Arabs coming to the polls, someone who seeks to exploit division and fear and hatred, that is not somebody who is negotiating in good faith.

When I visited the West Bank and met a young woman perhaps your age… What surprised me when I was talking to her about a two state solution is that she said I don’t care. Whether it’s one state or two state, I want to be treated with dignity. I don’t want to be patted down and searched every time I go to work or try to go to school. I just want to live like everyone else just wants to live.

We are about to lose the last best chance for a two-state solution. On one side wee are changing the facts on the ground. If we continue to allow settlement construction and expansion. On the other side, we are going to fail an opportunity for good faith and good will to make sure that we can guarantee the security of the Israeli people.

So, dignity, safety and security for all concerned, that has to be our policy and our actions have to follow suit.

The questioner later wrote on her Facebook page that O’Rourke had failed to answer her questions re Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, and refunding UNRWA.

While I am most definitely disappointed by Beto’s inability to answer my concise questions regarding UNRWA, BDS and accountability for our allies, I am glad that so many people in the audience during my question and after felt compelled to tell me that they also thought he didn’t answer the question and voiced their concern for the situation in Palestine as well. I am glad that the dignity and human rights is an important issue even to Americans who are disconnected from the conflict and I hope we can continue together to hold our politicians accountable and show them that we will not accept progressive politics that exclude Palestinians.

Philip Weiss

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

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20 Responses

  1. wondering jew on March 23, 2019, 12:48 pm

    I haven’t read his statement closely enough to parse his words and see precisely where I agree and disagree, and why the questioner was not satisfied, but that is maybe besides the point. This is crossing the Rubicon. Bernie Sanders might have been the prophet that led the way, but O’Rourke seems to be taking it to the next level.

    Those who supported Rabin did so out of dual purposes: to help the Palestinians and to help Israel in world opinion (to create a defensible political posture). Rabin’s failure hurt the Palestinians and now we shall see what an Israel without a defensible political posture looks like. The reaction of Lapid when interviewed by Bari Weiss re: a possible plan for the west bank was “oh, you americans, always in search of a solution!”

    Well, not exactly Yair. People like Bari are asking you to give her a defensible posture and all you can come up with is: the status quo is the best possible choice at this time. That might satisfy the Israeli electorate, but it is not a defensible position in the world court of public opinion.

    52 years of an occupation, turning the occupation into a settler occupation, is simply a travesty unless an offer of citizenship (or something) is given to the population of the west bank. the lack of a more humane response to the gaza situation is also indicative that something is very wrong. Most americans do not focus on the israel palestine situation, but those that do and view the world from a malcolm x/dr. king/rfk/abby hoffman point of view will not be at ease with such a status quo and beto o’rourke is reflecting the natural “Democratic Party” reaction to Israeli policy. It is certainly in the discourse now.

    i don’t think “it” helps the democrats in november. i don’t think ilhan omar is a boost for the national democratic party’s chances at winning this coming election cycle. but that is a side point.

  2. Sibiriak on March 23, 2019, 1:41 pm

    O’Rourke says special relationship with Israel goes against US values of equality and dignity
    ———————————-

    I didn’t hear him say that. I just heard him regurgitate carefully- crafted, well-rehearsed two-state talking points. Two states is the only answer. It’s not happening. Because:

    We have problems on both sides. I don’t know that we have a willing partner on the part of the Palestinian Authority. I know that in Prime Minister Netanyahu we have someone who has openly sided with racists in that country, someone who has warned about Arabs coming to the polls, someone who seeks to exploit division and fear and hatred, that is not somebody who is negotiating in good faith.”

    What’s noteworthy is how unrestrained the attack on Netanyahu is. But that’s permissible for Democrats–if not required– now that Netanyahu has been identified as an alter-ego of Trump, the supreme master of exploiting fear and hatred.

    An attack on the Netanyahu/Trump monster, is not, however, an attack on America’s “special relationship with Israel .” Far from it. It’s ultimately a bid to restore its legitimacy.

    • Rusty Pipes on March 23, 2019, 2:29 pm

      He described Israel as one of our ” relationships of convenience for short term security gains.” Given the rest of his reply, it’s hard to know if he would had described Israel with the same words if it hadn’t been lumped in with Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

  3. JWalters on March 23, 2019, 7:36 pm

    The base is forcing these people to confront the choice between money and morality. Morality is not on the side of Israel, despite its highly funded cover story, blanketing the entire continent (for now).

  4. brent on March 24, 2019, 1:17 am

    The applause for the questioner from those at the town hall was revealing. Beto’s focusing the issue on morality was a game-changing analysis. I haven’t encountered a better case for advancing equality to flesh out plausible two-state proposals. I look forward to reading, from any source, about game plans for advancing equality on the political agenda.

  5. Marnie on March 24, 2019, 1:39 am

    The only politician who has spoken the truth about israel is Ilhan Omar and unfortunately she isn’t running for president , nor could she. And she is being hounded mercilessly by the jackals in the pro-zionist crowd and of course undefended by her fellow democrats, demonized by republicans and others who despise her for being a black woman, a muslim and an immigrant from those shit-hole countries fearless leader spoke about. I don’t see anyone running for president who will be good for anything except being yet another zionist fellator.

    • Citizen on March 24, 2019, 12:27 pm

      Looks like Tulsi, who is the only Democrat running with a number one issue of foreign policy, calling for a new type of commander in chief who will end our current default policy of regime change, just dipped her toe in the deepest water. It did not get very wet: @TulsiGabbard talks about @AIPAC https://youtu.be/bV9WIUD1Cd8 via @YouTube

  6. Brewer on March 24, 2019, 5:07 am

    Lots of wiggle room in that speech but dare I say it, by putting a foot in each camp Beto O’Rourke indicates that the politics of overt Israel support are no longer a sure thing.
    Over all, my reaction is “slightly encouraging”.
    Don’t forget Trump appeared to defy the lobby before the election. Once in office the Zionist oriented Republican Guard managed to gain control of foreign policy.
    We will see change when the political power of justice for Palestine overcomes the political power of the lobby’s money and entrenched Zionist sympathies within the establishment permanent heads and oligarchs. become politically unsustainable..

    • Citizen on March 24, 2019, 12:32 pm

      Agreed. Now look at the Tulsi clip I just stuck up here above your comment in response to Marnie. I’d characterize her presentation as also “slightly encouraging.” But more specificity will be demanded of her because she is running to end regime change wars that have been characterized by great lack of prudence as shown by their net negative results every time.

      • Marnie on March 25, 2019, 12:07 am

        I’m going to check that video you posted Citizen, but I will say about Tulsi is it was great watching her school the hysterical meghan mccain, done so smoothly and intelligently I think it took meghan a minute or two before she realized she’d gotten smacked down.

      • Citizen on March 25, 2019, 4:37 pm

        @ Marnie
        Yes, about the Tulsi vs Meghan clash. I just found Tulsi’s 22 minute January speech to CUFI on Youtube. She was pretty masterful in what she chose to discuss–she did not mention the phrase “regime change,” nor the words “palestinan” or “occupation,” but still conveyed an over all tenor as fighter against ISIS, Al Quaida, Iran not to be trusted so must watch it closely re nukes.

  7. zaid on March 24, 2019, 2:24 pm

    i know this man sucks , but he should get credit for this statement.

  8. scott9854958 on March 24, 2019, 2:31 pm

    Beto’s another empty suit Dem who tailors his answers to whoever’s posing the question. In the end he will do what AIPAC tells him to.

  9. Jejasalo on March 25, 2019, 2:15 pm

    “…relationships that allow [the US] to continue to be the example for so much of the rest of the world.”

    God help us if the United States should be the example for the rest of the world. We’d be extinct by now.

  10. CHUCKMAN on March 27, 2019, 4:52 pm

    Boy, you can say that again.

    Also, add the fundamental principle of rule of law.

    And the one that is likely most important to most ordinary Americans, the security of ownership of your property.

    It’s just stunning that Israel receives any support.

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