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‘Sanders smashes the Israel status quo,’ his new ad boasts

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Bernie Sanders is officially running against Israeli apartheid! Yesterday Sanders posted an ad on his Facebook page featuring excerpts from activist Shaun King’s introduction of the Vermont senator at his Brooklyn College campaign launch March 2. King embraced the label that Donald Trump has given Sanders, of being crazy.

Listen, he has always rejected the status quo. He spoke out against apartheid in South Africa when crazily that was an unpopular thing to do. And even today he speaks out against apartheid-like conditions in Palestine even though it’s not popular. Listen, I don’t care if 45 calls him Crazy Bernie because he is a little crazy.

The ad uses the apartheid reference with the graphics above and below, including the statement, “Bernie smashes the Israel status quo.”

Bernie Sanders ad featuring Palestine, March 19, 2019. Screenshot.

Bernie Sanders ad featuring Palestine, March 19, 2019. Screenshot.


Peter Feld sent me the ad. “It’s a great ad, how it uses Trump at the end, saying ‘He doesn’t quit.’ I went to the kickoff rally. Chants of “Free Palestine” broke out while the crowd was waiting for it to start. For sure you’ll hear ‘from the river to the sea’ at next year’s DNC.”

The ad is surely a tactical shift by Sanders from 2016, when the senator, who is Jewish, largely avoided foreign policy, couched his criticisms of Israel in praise and bashed Netanyahu by saying, “There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

And that was seen as revolutionary! But that was then and this is now. The progressives base of the party is pro-Palestinian, and Sanders is speaking to them.


Philip Weiss

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

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35 Responses

  1. eljay on March 19, 2019, 11:34 am

    Trump was going to be “neutral” on I-P and look how that turned out. Sanders may be “smashing the Israel status quo” but I doubt he’s going to put a dent in its or his Zionism.

    • ritzl on March 19, 2019, 11:29 pm

      Yup. Prepare for some serious “Goldstone-ing”* should he look like the nom. He may be immune because he is a declared aetheist and his wife is Catholic, but his extended family may not be.

      * Judge Goldstone at first found that Israel had committed war crimes in 2014, but his family was threatened with ostracization from the Jewish community in South Africa and he mollified his findings.

  2. annie on March 19, 2019, 12:16 pm

    bring it on! this is the conversation we want to have. on almost every issue other dem presidential candidates have followed sanders lead, will they dare to cross the lobby and follow his lead on israel?

    • Citizen on March 20, 2019, 4:47 am

      Tulsi Gabbad is much better than Bernie on attacking our neocon regime change war policy–have you noticed how CNN & MSNBC try hard to sandbag her with loaded questions the few times she has been allowed on? Not sure what her stance is on Israel. Also wonder if she will get the 65000 unique donors she needs to appear on upcoming tv debates.

      • ckg on March 20, 2019, 3:15 pm

        If Americans Knew maintains scorecards for congressional legislators who are seeking election or re-election. For the 2018 midterm cycle a few of the pro-Israel/pro-Palestine scores were:
        Sanders 34/65
        Warren 62/37
        Brown 80/19
        Gillibrand 84/15
        Klobuchar 89/10
        O’Rourke 80/19
        Gabbard 85/15

      • Rusty Pipes on March 20, 2019, 6:17 pm

        Gabbard carefully criticizes the Military Industrial Complex, Special Interests, Mainstream Media and unnecessary Regime-Change Wars. Consequently, she is at odds with two of the most vocal congressional supporters of Palestinian Rights (Tlaib and Omar) over American intervention in Syria. Just a few days ago, Tlaib and Omar were tweeting about the eighth anniversary of the “Syrian Revolution” against “dictator Assad.” (Unfortunately, many supporters of Palestinian Rights still trust the reporting on Syria by Al Jazeera — even after Qatar’s long support for the Salafist insurgency in Syria.) I have watched a few of Gabbard’s campaign speeches online and have never heard her mention PNAC, neocon Regime Change Wars, the Israel Lobby or Zionist donors.

      • Rusty Pipes on March 20, 2019, 6:30 pm

        At one of Gabbard’s recent campaign speeches, she answered a question about how she is different from Bernie Sanders. She responds that, unlike any of the other candidates, she is not intimidated by the Foreign Policy establishment, because of her service in the military and her work on several House committees. Consequently, she is better prepared to take on the Military Industrial Complex to change our focus away from a War Economy. I don’t know whether Bernie is feeling any pressure from Gabbard as an anti-war candidate.

      • echinococcus on March 20, 2019, 7:45 pm

        “I don’t know whether Bernie is feeling any pressure from Gabbard as an anti-war candidate.”

        Why the pressure? Gabbard has come forward as somewhat opposed to war of aggression and willing to wind down the current threat of new wars (of course the reality of that remains to be seen), while Sanders is an unapologetic, blood-dripping warmonger. They do not belong in the same category at all.

      • DaBakr on March 21, 2019, 1:59 am


        gabbard? whatever her stance on Israel (I have no idea but don’t suspect she ids a huge fan) took an appeasing horribly misguided step in going to meet and give u.s. respect to one of the most brutal murdering butchers (along with his father) in the entire region for decades. that the assad clan is forgiven for murdrering up to 20.000 Palestinians in th ’70s by hafez or gassing civilian populations and barrel bombing children by the 10,000s and at least a quarter million others by the ‘timid eye doctor’ bashir and his ‘high class’ wife. that alone, wether you hate zionists or not should inform your decision on gabbard, regardless of the fact she ‘served her country’ as if that proves anything. the u.s. is littered with corpses killed by this who served at some point.

        yes, the u.s. engages with other brutal dictators but the Syrian clan has been anti-us, pro soviet/pro-russian and now pro-mullah dictatorship for decades. syria has occupied and invaded sovereign Lebanon numerous times with claims to its land with no need for strategic or national defense. Assad’s never even tried to pretend they gave a shit about how the US cared about how many they murdered since the family took over the nation.
        diplomacy at that level by an amateur is reckless and should be conducted on a much higher level considering all diplomatic and pragmatic aspects. (and I do not think the current us pres. could handle the seriousness and gravity.) but I also think gabbard should be ashamed, not proud of engaging.

        think of it like you think of those arab/muslim/african/asian nations that engage in normalization with the zionist entity.

      • Citizen on March 21, 2019, 1:09 pm

        @ DaBakr

        Tulsi talked to Assad. She said if the evidence shows he’s a war criminal he should be punished.
        You are insane, she is not.

      • annie on March 21, 2019, 1:52 pm

        citizen, i noticed they threw the david duke comparison at her. i think it was a colbert /meagan mcCain double whammy in a matter of days. the neocon neoliberal establishment cap crowd regime changers just can’t stand her. it’s really sad. she’d make an awesome president.

        echi, yada yada sanders yada ‘blood-dripping warmonger’. how anyone takes you seriously is beyond me.

    • echinococcus on March 20, 2019, 7:37 am

      What lead? Old mountebank Sanders is still a Zionist (“liberal”) and an equally “liberal” supporter of war of aggression.

      He effectively “spoke out” in support of genocide, the old Zionist warhorse. He “spoke out” to affirm the Zionist entity’s “right to defend itself” against the Palestinian people by burning Gaza to the ground. Where do you guys keep your memory and logic?

      • genesto on March 20, 2019, 2:49 pm

        All correct. Sanders is still a liberal Zionist, but is being pushed hard by the progressive base, his base, to abandon Zionism altogether.

        I still see Bernie as a work-in-progress on the issue. Let’s just see how this all plays out in the coming year of campaigning.

      • echinococcus on March 20, 2019, 7:50 pm


        What “progress”? Warmongering politician who knows what side his bread is buttered on, playing shadow theater to pull back to the Dimopublican fold a few honest people who have like a vague idea of justice, but too obnubilated by politicians to stick to any antimperialist program. There is no example in all of history that politicians of this kind (who have always existed) ever facilitated anything other than the will of the ruling class. None.

      • annie on March 21, 2019, 1:57 pm

        why do you even bother genesto? as if anyone expressing opinions like sanders own brother could run for president here in 2020. it would be 1000x worse than what corbyn goes thru.

  3. JLewisDickerson on March 19, 2019, 12:28 pm

    RE: New Sanders ad says he “smashes the Israel status quo”

    Matt Duss Is Behind Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Foreign Policy Vision …
    Feb 6, 2019 – Matt Duss helped persuade the Senate late last year to end U.S. military support … How One Advisor Bolstered Bernie Sanders’ Foreign Policy …

    Who Is Matt Duss, and Can He Take On Washington’s ‘Blob’?
    Feb 6, 2019 – Who Is Matt Duss, and Can He Take On Washington’s ‘Blob’? … Bernie Sanders’s foreign-policy adviser is part of a new generation of progressives fighting an entrenched status quo. … “We have been providing the bombs the Saudi-led coalition is using, refueling their planes …

    Q&A with Bernie Sanders’ 2020 foreign policy adviser – Business Insider
    Feb 25, 2019 – Bernie Sanders enters the 2020 race with a much clearer foreign policy agenda then in 2016. Part of that is thanks to Matt Duss, the senator’s …

  4. ckg on March 19, 2019, 3:43 pm

    Sanders says “apartheid-like”. I guess there is something to be said for calling it “apartheid-like” rather than just “apartheid”. I think Frank Lutz would even approve of it if he weren’t such an apartheid-loving Republican. Maybe Jimmy Carter would have had fewer problems if had instead named his book, “Peace, not Apartheid-Like”. I tried the “apartheid-like” label in a NYT comment to today’s Bari Weiss column on Lapid and I got a “Times Pick”. Woohoo!

  5. brent on March 19, 2019, 11:11 pm

    I am uncertain the message…. what exactly is intended to be meant by, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free “. Does it mean no Israel as some think?


    • Peter in SF on March 20, 2019, 12:50 am

      Why would you think that “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” means “no Israel”? Because Palestine being free from the river to the sea is somehow incompatible with the state of Israel continuing to exist inside those geographic boundaries? If there is such an incompatibility, then Israel shouldn’t exist. Otherwise, it isn’t ruled out by the objective of a free Palestine from the river to the sea. Remember that the intent of the UN partition plan in 1947 was ostensibly to have a free Palestine from the river to the sea.

      • Sibiriak on March 21, 2019, 10:07 am

        Peter in SF: Why would you think that “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” means “no Israel”?

        Likewise, why would anyone think that “from the river to the sea, Israel will be free” would mean “no Palestine”?

      • Peter in SF on March 27, 2019, 2:42 am


        Likewise, why would anyone think that “from the river to the sea, Israel will be free” would mean “no Palestine”?

        Palestine is a geographic area. Israel is a state. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to think that if the state of Israel covers all the area from the river to the sea then Palestine no longer exists.

      • Sibiriak on March 27, 2019, 8:26 am

        Peter in SF: Palestine is a geographic area. Israel is a state. .

        Palestine is a state as well.

      • Sibiriak on March 27, 2019, 8:50 am

        @Peter in SF

        Palestine […] is a de jure sovereign state[16][17] in Western Asia claiming the West Bank (bordering Israel and Jordan) and Gaza Strip (bordering Israel and Egypt)[3] with Jerusalem as the designated capital…

        As of 3 August 2018, 137 of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states and two non-member states have recognized it. Furthermore, Palestine has been a non-member observer state of the UN since November 2012.

      • Peter in SF on March 28, 2019, 2:24 am

        Sibiriak: OK, thanks for the details, but when Palestinians say Palestine, they’re seldom referring to the state; instead, they’re referring to the geographic area that includes all Israeli sovereign territory.

        For many Jews, “Israel” refers not just to the state but to all Jewish people — so a chant of “Israel will be free” would be about the freedom of a group of people, not about freedom reigning within a geographic area. These same people use the term “Eretz Israel” as a synonym for Palestine as a geographic area, so if they chanted “From the river to the sea, Eretz Israel will be free“, it would be equivalent to “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

    • Citizen on March 20, 2019, 4:49 am

      It means everybody who lives on the land from the river to the sea should have equal rights.

      • echinococcus on March 20, 2019, 9:10 am


        It means whatever one injects into it.

        If you believe that invasion creates no right but that of getting out pdq, as I do, it means leaving Palestine to Palestinians.

        If you believe that being born from invaders in a country that refuses the invasion still gives one a right equal to that of the owners of the territorial sovereignty, you’ll see the local born as citizens –as if this were the US insead of Palestine.

        If you believe that invasion creates a right, you’ll support continued Zionist oppression, by asking for equal rights for all inhabitants.

        If you believe that Zionists will be successful in the near future with their genocide, the Jewish Crusader Kingdom will have equal rights after all, by absence of an oppressed subject population.

        So one free Palestine from river to sea satisfies all.

    • eljay on March 20, 2019, 8:37 am

      || brent: I am uncertain the message…. what exactly is intended to be meant by, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free “. Does it mean no Israel as some think?

      Perspectives? ||

      IMO it’s not a good slogan precisely because it can be (deliberately) misinterpreted to mean the dismantling of the state of Israel. Better something like:

      Equality – from the river to the sea.

      Or if something wordier is acceptable:

      No Islamic or Jewish State
      No injustice, no more hate
      Just human rights and equality
      For all, from river to the sea

  6. Citizen on March 20, 2019, 4:53 am

    That new Israel Lobby group will put Bernie on the sh*t list, along with the three new bold ladies?
    See: New Group Seeks to Bolster Support for Israel in US Congress

    • ckg on March 21, 2019, 9:04 am

      Two new bold ladies. The third new lady self-censors.

      • Citizen on March 21, 2019, 1:13 pm

        Yeah, i noticed that about AOC

    • annie on March 23, 2019, 12:05 pm

      for heaven’s sakes how many friggin groups do they need? what is the point of this?

  7. umm al-hamam on March 20, 2019, 8:23 am

    Sanders has been a Zionist for his entire career and has voted in favour of billions in military aid to Israel on….probably dozens of occasions. He bears direct responsibility for Israeli massacres and ethnic cleansing as a result. So forgive me for being skeptical that this is anything but opportunism.

    • Citizen on March 21, 2019, 7:48 am

      If memory serves, last time, Bernie did not go to the annual AIPAC conference. It’s due again in a few days. Anybody know if he’s going? How about Tulsi?

      • Citizen on March 21, 2019, 1:14 pm

        I do agree with what u said, umm al-hamam

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