Trending Topics:

Bernie Sanders links Hitler’s murder of his family to his fight against occupation of Palestinians

News
on 25 Comments

We’ve closely followed the statements of Democratic presidential hopefuls to the American Jewish Committee. Almost every candidate so far has been careful to skirt the Israel question, hinting at some mild criticism of Israel but not actually voicing it. Joe Biden went after the Palestinians. Kamala Harris embraced Israel. No one has mentioned the occupation or Palestinian human rights with any specificity.

Till now, that is. Bernie Sanders weighed in yesterday with a forceful message that connects the murder of his own family by the Nazis to his fight against the crushing, humiliating military occupation by Israel of Palestine.

Sanders said that Gaza is also occupied, that Netanyahu is a reactionary who is planning to annex the West Bank, and that a two-state solution must produce a viable Palestinian state based on the ’67 lines, with Jerusalem as a capital. Just what Netanyahu rejected and shoved in Barack Obama’s face eight years ago in the White House, without any consequences.

Sanders began by saying that anti-Semitism is not an abstract idea to him. “I am Jewish and very proud of my heritage.” His father emigrated from Poland at the age of 17 to escape discrimination.

“Those in his family who remained in Poland after Hitler came to power were murdered by the Nazis. Antisemitism is not some abstract idea to me. It is very personal. It destroyed a good part of my family.”

He said that Jews therefore have a special role to play. “Jews who have been victims of discrimination for centuries must help lead the effort in fighting back against hatred and racism wherever and whenever we see it.”

And that includes Israel. Sanders calls himself “someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, who as a young man lived in Israel for several months.” But:

We must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of Netanyahu doesn’t make anyone anti-Israel. Let me say it again, I am vigorously opposed to the reactionary, racist and authoritarian policies of Donald Trump. That does not make me anti-American. I am not anti-Israel because I oppose Netanyahu’s policies.

Yes, Sanders itemized Trump’s racism more than Netanyahu’s. But Sanders becomes specific about those policies. Saying that the United States should lead the world with a foreign policy that focuses “on democracy and human rights rather than on a foreign policy that emphasizes the continued use of military force,” he moves to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

I see Israel making enormous technological advances with the capacity to serve as an engine of innovation and prosperity for the entire region, yet unable to achieve this goal because of its unresolved conflict with the Palestinians. I see a Palestinian people crushed under a military occupation now over a half century old, creating a daily reality of pain, humiliation and resentment. Let me be clear, I do not know how peace can be achieved in that region when in the Gaza Strip poverty is rampant, 53 percent of the the people are unemployed, the number of unemployed is even higher for young people. And 99 percent of the residents cannot leave that area. That is not a sustainable situation. Ending that occupation and enabling the Palestinians to have independence and self-determination in a sovereign, independent, economically viable state of their own is in the best interest of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and the entire region. It is a necessary step in insuring that Israel is accepted and integrated into a region it has so much to offer.

There is enough blame to go around on all sides, he says. The peace process will be very difficult, but agreements are possible if there is a serious willingness to sit down and talk and compromise. Sanders seems to channel his Brooklyn homey Norman Finkelstein:

The truth is that the parameters of a solution are well-known. They are based in international law, they are based in multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and they are supported by an overwhelmingly international consensus. Two states based on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

Then back at Netanyahu:

Unfortunately Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies seem to be preparing for a future in which Israel controls the entire territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River in perpetuity and the Palestinians receive limited autonomy within a disconnected series of communities. That is not an acceptable outcome for anyone who supports the security, freedom and self-determination of both peoples, as I strongly do.

Sanders links Netanyahu to rightwing “demagogues” around the world. “We are seeing the rise of authoritarian intolerant political leaders who are attacking the foundations of democratic societies.” They are fanning hatreds. Instead of using their leadership positions to bring people together around their common humanity, “these demagogues try to divide us up by our religion, by the color of our skin, by the country we came from by our gender, or our sexual orientation.”

He closes by explaining that Jewish history gives Jews a special role to play in fighting intolerance and injustice.

As history reminds us time and time again, the antidote to hatred, division and resentment is to bring people together around a shared vision of equality and prosperity, of creating societies that work for all and not just a few. I am absolutely convinced that the future will belong not to those who practice bigotry and hatred but to those of us who believe in peace and justice and are willing to fight for those values.

Based on our history, no one should be more active in that struggle than the Jewish people.

These strike me as the most explicit references Sanders has made to his Jewishness, to Jewish exceptionalism, to the price his family paid to anti-Semitism, and how that history informs the struggle against the persecution of the Palestinians by Israel and against Netanyahu.

Remember that in 2016, Sanders shocked the Democratic establishment by daring to say Netanyahu is not always right, debating Hillary Clinton before the New York primary (yes, weak beer, but…). Once again, Sanders is leading the discussion inside the Democratic mainstream/progressive world. Yes, the grassroots are giving him the freedom to make these daring statements. But he is leading the way in mainstream forums.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

25 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay on June 5, 2019, 9:49 am

    It’s a shame that (afaik) Sanders remains a Zionist, but at least he’s got the decency (in this instance, anyway) not to spew the usual Zionist garbage that acts of injustice and immorality committed against Jews justify acts of injustice and immorality committed by Jews.

  2. Ossinev
    Ossinev on June 5, 2019, 3:09 pm

    “Unfortunately Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies seem to be preparing for a future in which Israel controls the entire territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River in perpetuity and the Palestinians receive limited autonomy within a disconnected series of communities. That is not an acceptable outcome for anyone who supports the security, freedom and self-determination of both peoples, as I strongly do”

    Bernie just can`t quite bring himself to use the words ” Apartheid” or ” Bantustans” which are the words which correctly apply to the limited autonomy disconnected communities he is describing. So still tip toeing around to avoid stating the blindingly obvious.

    John Kerry to his short lived credit did actually use the word”Apartheid” but it inflamed the Benjamites and he was “obliged” to apologise for the remark within 24 hrs.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/29/john-kerry-apologises-israel-apartheid-remarks

  3. Citizen
    Citizen on June 6, 2019, 2:27 am

    Well, that puts some water in the glass, at least. Wonder, during this current campaign of his, if he will speak out specifically against all the clearly unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation sprouting across our land, or suggest at least a threat of putting some conditions on aid to Israel since it takes such a hugh chunk of our foreign aid.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen on June 6, 2019, 4:45 am

    Some peeps on Twitter have this to say:

    @StanleyCohenLaw
    13h13 hours ago
    More
    Comrade sanders has had a life of political power on a local, state and federal level. The first time he heard of Palestine was his last campaign. He has done nothing but support ethnic cleansing, land theft, torture, imprisonment and murder of Palestinians. Fuck him..
    17 replies 30 retweets 55 likes

    • lois5@sonic.net
      [email protected] on June 7, 2019, 5:28 pm

      I trust you got off on cursing Sen. Sanders, but it did not advance the Palestinian cause one iota. People can change. Old dogs learn new tricks. And we need all the friends we can muster. The man wants to win an election to make the world a better place. Cut him a little slack for not meeting your perfectionist expectations.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 8, 2019, 11:03 am

        See my earlier comment on this thread.

  5. eibieman
    eibieman on June 6, 2019, 9:58 am

    A principled position well defined and elaborated for the recognition of an independent Palestine. No mention of the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees though, not here not now.

    Now though to comment on this article as presented in Mondoweiss.. to alude to a connection between the Holocaust and the treatment of the Palestinians is a false account of the presentation by Sanders and a false allusion, as if the treatment of the PAlestinians is somehow comparable to the planned extermination of the Jewish People (with the exception of Zionists). Sanders presented his personal motivation only.

    The article however presents a reactionary comparison between Nazism and Zionism. Some Zionists are fascists for sure but the JEwish opposition is so much stronger than the German opposition was to fascism and prevents such a degeneration.

    To present the matter otherwise is to claim a status of the ‘good Jew’ while leaving the rest to be condemned. Considering that Mondoweiss is a latecommer to the PAlestinian solidarity movement, it only serves to comdemn itself.

  6. Misterioso
    Misterioso on June 6, 2019, 10:11 am

    A reminder:

    Jan 19, 2018 – Haaretz
    Opinion: “In Israel, Growing Fascism and a Racism Akin to Early Nazism” by Zeev Sternhell.**

    EXCERPT:
    “I frequently ask myself how a historian in 50 or 100 years will interpret our period. When, he will ask, did people in Israel start to realize that the state that was established in the War of Independence, on the ruins of European Jewry and at the cost of the blood of combatants some of whom were Holocaust survivors, had devolved into a true monstrosity for its non-Jewish inhabitants. When did some Israelis understand that their cruelty and ability to bully others, Palestinians or Africans, began eroding the moral legitimacy of their existence as a sovereign entity?”

    Also:
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-gaza-border-killings-expose-israel-s-true-mentality-1.6032716

    Opinion: “Gaza Border Killings Expose Israel’s True Mentality. And Bezalel Smotrich, like the cynical face of Avigdor Lieberman, reflects our own face, the face of Netanyahu’s advance guard for the West.” Zeev Sternhell Apr 27, 2018 – Haaretz

    Also:
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-s-suicidal-passion-for-tribal-nationalism-1.6657209?utm_term=20181116-02%3A26&utm_campaign=Zeev+Sternhell&utm_medium=email&writerAlerts=true&utm_source=smartfocus&utm_content=www.haaretz.com%2Fopinion%2F1.6657209

    Opinion: “Israel’s Suicidal Passion for Tribal Nationalism.”

    EXCERPT:
    “The fate of the Jews has been tied to the fate of liberal values, and yet the levels of racist tribal nationalism reached here are incomparable, even to those of the chauvinists in the West we increasingly treat as allies.” Nov 16, 2018, Haaretz – By Zeev Sternhell

    ** Zeev Sternhell is a Polish-born Israeli historian, political scientist, commentator on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and writer. He is one of the world’s leading experts on fascism. Sternhell headed the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

  7. VQTilley
    VQTilley on June 6, 2019, 12:39 pm

    I confess I found these extracts from Bernie a breath of fresh air in the hypoxic fug of presidential contender rhetoric. Yes, he didn’t/can’t say “apartheid” or “Bantustan,” but I got the impression that he’s being honest. That could mean he simply hasn’t progressed yet to associating Israel with apartheid but would do so when it’s put under his nose, perhaps by unfolding events (e.g., collapse of the PA and an ensuing Palestinian anti-apartheid campaign).

    Would he? That is, if the Palestinians launch an anti-apartheid one-state struggle and Bernie must decide what to do, will he accept that Jewish statehood, as a political project, is rotten to the core and Mandate Palestine must be reunified somehow? Or will he pull up short to protect his Zionism and redeploy the frayed fantastical hope that Israel can go back to being a virtuous state if it can just rid itself of this pestilential occupation?

    That’s the Liberal Zionist trap, isn’t it? Sticking to the fraudulent notion that the Palestinians will ever have their a sovereign state plays right into the present annexation strategy. And Bernie comes off to me as a deep Liberal Zionist. That’s a very fragile position, because while it seems to its adherents as even-handed and principled, it relies on selective blindness because the full truth about Israel’s racism crushes Liberal Zionism like a tinsel hat.

    All intelligent and politically literate LZs, at least those who know the Palestinian problem as well as Bernie does, must be resorting to willful blindness or they wouldn’t be LZs. They do brood and lament, clinging to the idea that Judaism’s higher moral principles and Israel can fit somehow. This self-torment itself is a LZ trait. Some LZs almost seem to take their own moral pain as an adequate substitute (absolution?) for seriously tackling Zionism’s impossible moral contradictions. I feel bad and so am absolved.

    Re Bernie, whom I admire in many ways, I’m further tilted toward pessimism by reading his reference to “Netanyahu’s policies.” Anyone who thinks Israel’s occupation policy and its brutality are “Netanyahu’s policies” hasn’t been paying attention, although that’s a classic LZ myth. It should be obvious to the quickest perusal of Israel’s history that it has done ALL these awful things from the start, its policies toward Palestinians and their land (in the OPT and in Israel) represent a multi-decadal strategy and features like the settlement policy won’t change a whit whether Bibi stays or goes. Not encouraging to see Bernie in this double-think.

    The downside of detesting Netanyahu is indeed the illusion that he’s the problem. This leads LZs into one of two equally damaging positions when Netanyahu finally loses an election (or is arrested or whatever). If the new PM is a silver-tongued-avuncular racist like Peres or a gravitas-emitting racist like Rabin, the great majority of LZs will likely happily reenter the hall of mirrors that represents Israel as a virtuous and well-meaning state facing perplexing circumstances. If the new PM is a brash-ethnic-cleanser racist like Avigdor Lieberman, they’ll doubtless be dismayed at the “direction” Israel is taking but, in thinking it’s a direction (i.e., Israel is changing for the worse), still not grasp that Israel itself hasn’t changed at all. They don’t realize the Shimons, Bibis and Avis as different masks on the same actor commanding the same stage, shouting the same lines in velvety or harsh tones. Some will cling to the idea that Israel can be restored to its former goodness; others will withdraw in disgust from an Israel they “no longer can support”. Either position leaves the Palestinians screwed.

    • eljay
      eljay on June 6, 2019, 1:20 pm

      || VQTilley: … All intelligent and politically literate LZs, at least those who know the Palestinian problem as well as Bernie does, must be resorting to willful blindness or they wouldn’t be LZs. They do brood and lament, clinging to the idea that Judaism’s higher moral principles and Israel can fit somehow. This self-torment itself is a LZ trait. Some LZs almost seem to take their own moral pain as an adequate substitute (absolution?) for seriously tackling Zionism’s impossible moral contradictions. I feel bad and so am absolved. … ||

      On MW, no-one does this aggressor-victimhood schtick better than y.f. (a.k.a., wondering jew).

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on June 9, 2019, 3:53 pm

      Best I’ve ever read on “liberal” Zionists . Thank you, Danaa.

      But then, why “admire” Sanders, –“in many ways”, no less? Sanders, with every inch of his entire behavior, is part and parcel of the US-Zionist Imperial administrative machine. In fact, many even confirm that he was the most successful of all the Bernies that have been trotted out to ensure the continued survival of the main part of that administrative machine, i.e. the Democratic Party, i.e. the leading Zionist organization worldwide. It’s not Bernie’s double-think, it’s his assigned role, an extremely important one for the survival of the US Zionist empire.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on June 10, 2019, 4:28 am

        Sorry for the name confusion, Dr. Tilley. Of course my note, above, was in answer to Dr. Tilley’s post, not Danaa’s (although Danaa writes equally well…)

  8. Boris
    Boris on June 6, 2019, 3:17 pm

    He said that Jews therefore have a special role to play. “Jews who have been victims of discrimination for centuries must help lead the effort in fighting back against hatred and racism wherever and whenever we see it.”

    No, holding Jews to a standard different from standards of other nations is antisemitic.

    Period.

    So, Sanders’ whole reasonings is wrong from the very beginning.

    • eljay
      eljay on June 6, 2019, 4:51 pm

      || Boris: … holding Jews to a standard different from standards of other nations is antisemitic. … ||

      “Jews” isn’t a nation. Israel, however, is a nation and many people do want to hold it to the same standards as other nations – standards that include (among other things):
      – not being a supremacist state;
      – respecting and upholding international laws and human rights;
      – not engaging in ethnic cleansing, military occupation, colonialism, torture and other (war) crimes; and
      – being held accountable for (war) crimes committed (past, present and future).

      It’s you Zionist hypocrites who anti-Semitically insist on holding Israel to a different standard.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on June 6, 2019, 5:47 pm

        “… holding Jews to a standard different from standards of other nations is antisemitic…”

        Except when Jews demand it of Jews in the name of Zionism.

      • Boris
        Boris on June 7, 2019, 12:30 am

        Except when Jews demand it of Jews in the name of Zionism.

        ???

        Like what, when???

        Zionism is the idea that Jews – like many other nations – should have their nation state. What anybody asked you to do in the name of Zionism, Mu-mu?

      • eljay
        eljay on June 7, 2019, 8:04 am

        || Boris: … Zionism is the idea that Jews – like many other nations – should have their nation state. … ||

        No, Zionism was and still is the idea that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to hold it the “right”:
        – to be supremacists in as large as possible a supremacist state; and
        – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality (“necessary evil” in Ziospeak) they would not have others do unto them.

        This is the idea all Zionists – be they hard-core “strong fighting Jew” or nose-holding “liberal Zionist” – believe in, advocate, justify and defend.

      • maewhite
        maewhite on June 14, 2019, 5:43 am

        No it is not we “Zionist hypocrites”, eljay, who hold Israel to a different standard.

        Why do all you self righteous anti Semites persist in demonizing Israel- while radio silent regarding the serious war crimes by the likes of Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc.? The Syrians gassed their own kids; Iran executes gays, etc. etc. There is no free speech or press in any of these above mentioned countries; nor is there any semblnce of equal rights for women, gays , Christians and other minorities.

        I think you armchair libertarians should get off your sofas and come visit for yourself what you so tiringly demonize.

        I don’t hear a peep form the UN- or from your bleeding hearts about any of these human rights abuses.
        Istead you reserve your opprobrium for Israel, the only democratic state in the region with forward thinking, modern, democratic values.

      • eljay
        eljay on June 14, 2019, 8:36 am

        || maewhite: No it is not we “Zionist hypocrites”, eljay, who hold Israel to a different standard. … ||

        Of course it is.

        || … Why do all you self righteous anti Semites persist in demonizing Israel- while radio silent regarding the serious war crimes by the likes of Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc.? … ||

        Why do you self-righteous ant-Syrians, anti-Iranians, anti-Yemenites and anti-Afghani persist in demonizing those states while actively defending Israel’s decades-long and on-going campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, military-occupation, colonialism, torture and murder?

        I don’t want anyone to do evil to anyone else and I want all evil-doers to be held accountable. You may agree with that sentiment for the most part but – like all Zionist hypocrites – you self-righteously exempt and absolve Israel and Zionists.

        || … the only democratic state in the region with forward thinking, modern, democratic values. ||

        I absolutely love how you started your post with snark about how you don’t hold Israel to a different standard and ended it by holding Israel to a different standard.

        Please stick around, maewhite (jackgreen?). I can see that you’ll do good work here.  :-)

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer on June 14, 2019, 11:15 am

        @maewhite
        “Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, ”

        Syria, under sanctions
        Iran, under sanctions
        Yemen, under western supported attack with an incredible loss of civilian life in a war opposed by ‘the left’. Heavily critcized by all mainstream human rights groups.
        Afghanistan, currently effectively occupied and the Taliban are under attack.

        Israel and SA. Scot free. Given financial (Israel) and military support despite their extreme violations of international law and humanitarian law. Held to a completely different standard but in the opposite way of that which you imply.

        I’m all for holding Israel to the same standard and I continue to ask our politicians for sanctions against Israel as a result. Boycott is merely a temporary substitue.

        Your claim “the only democratic state in the region with forward thinking, modern, democratic values.” is totally risible bs.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on June 14, 2019, 2:31 pm

        “Please stick around, maewhite (jackgreen?). I can see that you’ll do good work here. :-)”

        Yes, the combination of ignorance and hauteur is simply irresistible.

  9. JWalters
    JWalters on June 6, 2019, 7:28 pm

    It seems to me Bernie is advancing the discussion carefully on this topic. This is strategically sensible since the political waters are so thickly infested with Zionist sharks in attack mode. His comments need to be echoed and re-echoed to build volume and momentum.

  10. LiberatePalestine
    LiberatePalestine on June 7, 2019, 8:45 am

    → There is enough blame to go around on all sides, he says.

    No, there is not. No significant blame attaches to the Palestinians for struggling against a settler-colonial invasion perpetrated by genocidal Herrenrasse Zionists and their imperialist backers.

  11. Ossinev
    Ossinev on June 7, 2019, 2:34 pm

    @Boris
    “No, holding Jews to a standard different from standards of other nations is antisemitic”

    Jewish Nation State Law. ? Holding non Jews to a different standard from Jews?

    As in holding Muslims to a different standard from Jewish citizens is Islamophobic and racist.

    Following your “logic” no doubt you will agree.

  12. echinococcus
    echinococcus on June 7, 2019, 4:49 pm

    “Sanders said that Gaza is also occupied, that Netanyahu is a reactionary who is planning to annex the West Bank, and that a two-state solution must produce a viable Palestinian state based on the ’67 lines, with Jerusalem as a capital. Just what Netanyahu reject…”

    And this forceful intervention by (Israel-has-a-right-to-defend-itself-) Sanders to keep the racist, genocidal colonial settlement in perpetuity (rather until completion of the genocide, natch) is being sold by Mondoweiss as some kind of progress over today’s situation. Bullshit. It’s not. At least the Yahoo government does the exact same things but frankly, without the pretense of a “Palestinian”pseudo-state, without the illusion that the genocidal invasion has somewhat stopped.

Leave a Reply