Opinion

Bernie Sanders: Still Progressive Except for Palestine

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A text message appeared on my phone a few days ago from the newly-minted Bernie Sanders campaign. The message reported the “HUGE NEWS” that Sanders “JUST” announced he is running, and asking me if I’m ‘in.’  I texted back, asking about his position on Palestine, and was told where I could donate to the Sanders campaign. For whatever reason, I wasted my time with a few more texts, and got responses such as “I understand, have a great day!” Eventually, the question was answered, and it was the same tired refrain we hear from any PEP politician. That response is included here in its entirety:

“In response to you (sic) first message, he supports diplomatic efforts to end the occupation and broker a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine which allows both peoples to coexist in peace, security and dignity. He also supports steps to put pressure on both sides in response to policies that undermine that goal.”

I will break down this tired old statement into its component parts, and highlight the nonsense of each.

‘Diplomatic efforts to end the occupation.’ Just what would these be? More negotiations? Israel, in its oh-so-magnanimous way, is forever saying it is willing to negotiate without preconditions, as it has done for decades. This means that, while negotiations are ongoing, Israel will continue to occupy the West Bank, bulldozing Palestinians homes to make room for more illegal Israeli settlers; continue blockading the Gaza Strip, periodically bombing residences, hospitals, press vehicles and United Nations refugee centers and have the IDF protect illegal settlers as they harass and kill innocent, unarmed Palestinians.

And we must keep in mind the very basic fact that negotiations can only be successful when each party has something the other wants, that it can only obtain by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine with complete impunity. Why would Israel not want to ‘negotiate’? It has been doing it for years, and getting everything it wants, as it surrenders nothing.

Another important reason that negotiations are not necessary, is because international law clearly states that the occupation and blockade are illegal. If someone robs a bank, the police don’t work with the robber and the bank manager to determine how much of the money will be returned to the bank, and how much the robber will keep. There is no need for Palestine to negotiate with anyone.

‘Broker a two-state solution.’ And just how would the illustrious senator from Vermont accomplish this? To ‘broker’ implies negotiations, and we’ve just discussed how pointless and unnecessary those are. And with the Israeli government saying there will never be a two-state solution, how is such a dream to be realized?

‘Both peoples to coexist in peace, security and dignity.’ Lofty goals, indeed, but how will they be achieved? Most PEP politicians discuss a ‘disarmed’ Palestine. Assuming there is a two-state solution, is it reasonable for one of those states to be completely unarmed when it borders its mortal enemy, one that has spent over seventy years trying to destroy it? Why should the Palestinians be deprived of the ability to defend themselves from foreign aggression?

‘Put pressure on both sides in response to policies that undermine that goal (both peoples coexisting in peace, security and dignity).’ This implies that there is fault on both sides, which shows Sanders either lacks any understanding of the situation, or would prefer to kowtow to Israel than support justice. Israel has a powerful military, including nuclear weapons, and is backed by the most powerful nation on the planet. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. The Gaza Strip is blockaded by land, sea and air, and the West Bank is occupied. Israel deprives the people of Palestine of clean water, and grants them only minimal food requirements. The Israeli army shoots to death unarmed Palestinian men, women and children, some of whom may have thrown stones at them, but many of whom were clearly-marked as medics or members of the press.

My final text in this rather pointless stream was to express my regret that Sanders doesn’t respect international law. Only a few relative points, among many, will be included herein:

Lastly, let us all remember that the occupation of Palestine by Israel has been declared illegal by the United Nations.

So as Bernie Sanders rides his populist wave across the dismal political landscape of the United States, he will continue to burnish his PEP credentials. He will decry income inequality (as he should); he will condemn usurious lending practices that exploit students (again, very commendable).  He will remove the unearned tarnish that socialism has in many corners in the U.S. (up to and including this point, I support him). But he will cravenly talk about negotiations between Israel and Palestine, blaming both sides for the decades-long situation, and not dare to speak of true solutions.

In case he doesn’t know what they are, I am happy to inform him. All that is required is an end to U.S. financial aid to Israel; the recognition of Palestine with borders as decreed (however unjustly) by the United Nations in 1947; the establishment of the Palestinian capital as Jerusalem and vast amounts of financial aid to Palestine to rebuild its infrastructure and provide much-needed medical and other treatment for the Palestinians. This would be in keeping with both international law and the U.S.’s oft-stated but never meant ‘humanitarian relief.’ Finally, the right of return, guaranteed to all refugees by international law, must be granted to the Palestinians.

Will this happen? Will the senator from Vermont ever take such a principled stand? I do not suggest holding one’s breath in anticipation of such a move. And for me, a candidate who is PEP is not one I will ever vote for.

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I was punching the air in support reading this until the *hey, what?* reference to the 1947 partition plan. This might have been meant as a tad facetious, but I don’t think the 1947 partition plan is helpful to invoke, even in its purported importance to a “principle of partition”… Read more »

ROBERT FANTINA- “Bernie Sanders: Still Progressive Except for Palestine” You have low standards for what constitutes “progressive.” Bernie Sanders is an imperialist and a militarist who verbally supports a handful of progressive causes. The Democratic Party is the graveyard of progressive movements, serving to co-opt any and all resistance to… Read more »

P. S. That said, Bernie’s hogwash statement is a terrible disappointment. I don’t see how we’re supposed to vote for anyone who supports racist policies crushing millions of people. AIPAC crony Pelosi may be uneducable on this, but the other Dems, and Bernie, had better take heed.

Palestine with borders as decreed (however unjustly) by the United Nations in 1947 The UN never decreed any borders in 1947 or otherwise, rather though UNGA 181 they merely recommended borders for partitioning Palestine into two separate states. Furthermore, the idea of implementing a two state solution on the basis… Read more »

No great leader, politician, or president, can go against the brick wall carefully built, and cemented, by the zionists, in this great country. No bulldozer, even Caterpillar, can even make a dent, in a system so foolproof, that when any American brings the attention of the country to this enormous… Read more »