Here we go! It’s happening! Dem Presidentials are coming up against the Palestine question. Both Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg’s campaign kick-off rallies were marked by Palestinian solidarity protest. Beto O’Rourke blows Netanyahu a kiss and calls for a two-state solution. Kamala Harris’s spox says supporting Israel is central to who she is.
So the issue is inescapable, the base is demanding the discussion.
Buttigieg launched his campaign in South Bend on Sunday. And “a group of protesters also attended the rally, urging the Democratic presidential candidate to clarify and step back from his previous statements toward the Israeli government. ‘Open your heart 2 Palestine & Golan’ was the message on their banners and T-shirts,” Jason Lemon reports on Pete Buttigieg rally for Newsweek
“This is not only about Pete,” Jude Ash, a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame and one of the protest organizers told Newsweek. “We want to show that there are people in his intended base who are concerned about U.S. policy in the Middle East region being dogmatically pro-Israel, regardless of what Israel is doing to Palestinians,” he explained…
Buttigieg “seems to uncritically regurgitate the Israeli propaganda without any sensitivity to the Palestinian and Syrian grievances, and even suggests the Israeli approach may hold lessons for the U.S.,” Ash said.
[Ash continued,] “But it is also directed toward all of Democrats…. We are all big supporters of Pete, and we believe that he has shown over and over that he is willing to listen, learn, and evolve on the issues.”
The piece quotes Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace, moving the Democratic base:
Vilkomerson told Newsweek that “as the opinion polls keep demonstrating, it’s increasingly clear that any candidate—for any position—who claims to be progressive needs to support Palestinian human rights.”
Here’s Buttigieg regurgitating Israel talking points. Back in January he dismissed Ilhan Omar, after the Minnesota rep likened Israel to Iran in its failure to separate church and state. He said Iran is the problem:
I disagree with the comments comparing Israel to Iran. People like me [gay people] get strung up in Iran. So the idea that what’s going on is equivalent is just wrong. Now what I will say is that it is complicated picture. I was in Israel in May of this year and not only is there a real problem with their long term, how they’re going to balance being a democracy with being a Jewish state. But they’ve also got to figure out, and we’ve got to figure out with them as an ally, what the regional security picture is going to look like in the future. We were just a couple of miles from Gaza and the general who was briefing our delegation said what they were worried about most is Iran, beyond even what’s going on with the Palestinians. It has always been one of the most fiendishly complicated issues and simple answers will not serve us well at a time like this.”
Next, here’s Cory Booker’s launch rally Saturday. When Booker spoke of the “injustice of families not having heat in the coldest months of the year,” Palestinian advocates interrupted him. “Justice means justice for Palestine. We cannot have justice for all if we do not have justice for Palestine.”
The video was posted by a Palestinian solidarity activist, Yumma3X who said:
Today, I disrupted
@CoryBooker ‘s kick off campaign event because I found his silence on the crimes the apartheid state of Israel is committing on the Palestinians appalling . I went out because I believe “Justice for All” must include Palestine
Booker is hewing to a pro-Israel line. He told the Washington Post last week: “We see in Israel a nation that is constantly under assault from terrorism and the media and is in a precarious position when it comes to its security and the freedom to exist.”
Last week Beto O’Rourke called Netanyahu a racist and a threat to the bipartisan support for Israel:
The US-Israel relationship… if it is to be successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a Prime Minister who is racist.
Lately O’Rourke congratulated Netanyahu on victory and said Two-State solution, now and forever:
Let me begin by, this is my first public opportunity to do this, to publicly congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu on his victory. I may not agree with a lot of what he has done or said, especially recently aligning himself with far right, very hateful parties employing some very racist rhetoric — disavowing functionally the two-state solution, which if you care about Israel, and I deeply do, it’s going to undermine and jeopardize a peaceful, secure future for that state, it will make it nearly impossible for Israel to remain both a Jewish state and a democracy. So I have some serious differences.
But our differences should not hold us captive to being able to advance our cause, which is a two-state solution, our friendship, which is historic with the state of Israel, which must transcend who’s in power at a given time or the party affiliation of the president of the United States. That is an everlasting relationship and friendship. But for the full benefit of everyone in that region, Israelis and Palestinians, then we must ensure that there are two states, it is the best long term guarantee for peace, political stability and our interests as well as the interests of those two peoples being served in that area, so you have got my commitment on a two state solution going forward.
Kamala Harris stays strong for Israel under pressure from the left. A McClatchy report by Emily Cadei and Michael Wilner:
California Sen. Kamala Harris is resisting pressure from the left flank of her Democratic party… holding firmly to her moderate approach to U.S.-Israel relations in her 2020 run for president.
Harris is pursuing the Clintonite path. “Support for Israel is central to who she is.”
In the Senate and on the campaign trail, Harris is opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel, foreign aid cuts to the state, condemnatory votes on Israel at the United Nations and public criticism of its leadership — all tactics increasingly popular with the Democratic base and adopted by several of her Democratic presidential rivals.
Unlike those rivals, Harris is standing by her association with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, as the advocacy organization becomes a lightning rod within the Democratic Party.
“Her support for Israel is central to who she is,” Harris’ campaign communications director, Lily Adams, told McClatchy. “She is firm in her belief that Israel has a right to exist and defend itself, including against rocket attacks from Gaza.”
Harris is obviously playing the donor game here. She met with AIPAC during its conference last month.
Harris has also maintained close personal ties with several leading figures in California’s pro-Israel Jewish community. In her 2017 remarks to the AIPAC conference, she singled out “my dear friends and AIPAC board members, Anita Friedman and Cissie Swig and Amy Friedkin,” all wealthy San Francisco-area philanthropists and political donors. Friedkin also served as AIPAC’s first female president from 2002 to 2004, just as Harris was coming up in local politics.
The article mentions Harris’s marriage to a Jewish attorney in 2014. He accompanied her on her first visit to Israel and the occupied territories.
Driving this discussion is the progressive base. Bernie Sanders put down Netanyahu at a town hall yesterday:
“I’m Jewish. I lost my father’s family, devastated by Hitler, so this is an issue of some sensitivity to me. I will do everything in my power, and I hope every member of Congress will fight not only anti-Semitism, but racism and anti-Muslim activity so we create a nondiscriminatory society,” Sanders said. “But it is not anti-Semitic to be critical of a right-wing government in Israel. It is not anti-Semitic.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raises the idea of pressuring Israel. She hopes for a diplomatic response to the annexation plans; “but if we just sit on our hands…” Does that mean she’s in favor of cutting military or economic aid to Israel? she was asked:
I mean I think it’s on the table. I think it’s certainly on the table. I think it’s something that can be discussed. I also acknowledge my role in this as well in that I hope to play a facilitating role in this conversation and a supportive role in this conversation, but I also know that there are people who have been leading on this for a long time, like Congresswoman [Betty] McCollum… But I think we need to expand what those policy conversations are because I would as just a citizen of this country, I would be very concerned if Trump started really pursuing more and more and more, increasingly dangerous policies and everyone just standing aside and saying this is normal, this is just like before.