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Beto O’Rourke blamed ‘both sides’ when asked about atrocities of Israeli occupation

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The video of Beto O’Rourke in New Hampshire dancing around without answering an IfNotNow member’s question, “Would you commit to putting direct pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation?” is now nearly two weeks old.

But it is worth watching/reading for how little O’Rourke says in four minutes– while making it a point to blame “both sides” for violence and bad leadership when the context was, atrocities experienced by Palestinians.


The question: Aviva of IfNotNow says that on a visit to Israel/Palestine she witnessed the “atrocities” of the Israeli military occupation as experienced by “millions of Palestinians,” including watching two soldiers choke a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, and feels responsible as an American taxpayer. “Would you commit to putting direct pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation?”

Beto O’Rourke: “Thanks for the question. The answer is– yes, we’ll work directly with the government of Israel, directly with the Palestinian Authority, in pursuit of a two-state solution. It is the only way, as far I understand it, that we can guarantee the safety, the security, the human rights, and the dignity of everyone in the West Bank, of everyone in Israel and potentially everyone in Gaza as well. Though I understand that’s a much more challenging issue, given the disconnect between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas right now.

“I too have visited Israel and Tel Aviv, and I’ve too visited the West Bank, and I’m struck by the fear that so many live under. On both sides. In Tel Aviv I remember passing by the Dolphinarium, which was destroyed as were the lives of Israeli teenagers in a terrorist attack. Going not too far from Gaza where we saw the remains of tunnels that have been dug into communities to terrorize people there.

“But I was also in the West Bank and I met a young woman who said, ‘I really don’t care about a two-state solution or a one-state solution, Palestinian girl, she said, I just want to be treated like a human being. I want to go to school. I want to get married. I want to have a job and a career.’ She wants what my kids want, what all of us want, and is functionally denied the ability to do that today.

“I think this is especially complicated in the leadership that we see on both sides. In Mahmoud Abbas, someone who is not able to I think pursue that two-state solution and to reduce the inflammation and the calls to violence. Somebody in Prime Minister Netanyahu who has openly sided with racist political parties, who has warned about Arabs coming to the polls, and now threatens to annex the West Bank, which means that Israel going forward if he does this cannot both be the homeland of the Jewish people and a democracy– it’s going to have to pick one or the other. And you mentioned that uniquely  We are the largest donor to the state of the Israel. We support Israel more than we support any other country on the face of the planet. We also are a large contributor to the Palestinian Authority.

“I think that we have to insure that that relationship is reciprocal and that everyone’s interests are served at the end of the day. So as president I will make sure that we vigorously pursue the two-state solution. Get there. But I just want to acknowledge that I understand the challenges we have with leadership on both sides now.”

Aviva persists. “I can’t help but feeling, we’re hiding behind the complication of it… How are you going to bring us into this change and how are you going to pressure the Israeli government?”

O’Rourke: “I think the tough but honest answer and one that hopefully includes some humility that has been missing from US foreign policy, is We cannot impose that solution on anyone. We can do our best. We can assist both sides in whatever way that we can make the difference. But ultimately that’s going to have to be the decision of the Israeli and the Palestinian people, which we will support to the nth degree  Whatever way we can facilitate it or help to make it happen but understand that we cannot impose or force that to happen, I will do that. So I just want to be honest with you, I don’t know that any one person can make that happen. But we’ll do everything we can to be helpful so that it could. So thanks for asking, I appreciate it.”

A few months back, Beto O’Rourke called Netanyahu a “racist.” He has long adopted the talking point of a two-state solution.

O’Rourke gave his longwinded answer the same weekend that Cory Booker told IfNotNow, more directly: “If that’s your issue I would understand if you want to support somebody else.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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17 Responses

  1. eljay on July 28, 2019, 3:06 pm

    (Pro-)Zionists are truly hateful and immoral hypocrites:
    – If evil were being done to Jews, they would immediately and rightly denounce it and call for justice, accountability and equality.
    – But because evil is being done by (and purportedly for) Jews, they’ll sing and dance and say just about anything but they simply cannot bring themselves to call for justice, accountability and equality.

    • Misterioso on July 29, 2019, 10:29 am

      “But it is worth watching/reading for how little O’Rourke says in four minutes– while making it a point to blame ‘both sides’ for violence and bad leadership when the context was, atrocities experienced by Palestinians.”

      Sigh. Another gutless American politician spews forth nonsense in order not to offend “Israel” too much.

      Imagine this scenario:
      It’s 1940 and the Nazis have just invaded and occupied France and after defeating its army, are in the process of killing off the resistance and brutally, including mass murder, gaining near total control of the French people. During an interview by a member of the media, a prominent American politician aspiring to the presidency declares regarding the horrors taking place in France that ‘both sides,’ i.e., Germany and France ‘should be blamed for violence and bad leadership…’ ”

      Needless to say, that politician’s career would be in the toilet and he/she would be treated like a pariah.

  2. Sibiriak on July 29, 2019, 1:35 am

    He mouths support for two states– while making it crystal clear he will do nothing serious to bring it about

    Key talking point: “We cannot impose that solution on anyone. […] that’s going to have to be the decision of the Israeli and the Palestinian people…

    Israeli Jews decided long ago: no Palestinian state, no single democratic state.

  3. RobertHenryEller on July 29, 2019, 8:13 am

    Mayor Pete, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are no better than O’Rourke on this issue. And O’Rourke’s campaign is going nowhere but away. Kamala Harris is another matter. But she’s a corporatist Democrat, so this is just part of her larger issue. Voting for Kamala Harris is no better than voting for Biden.

  4. Lillian Rosengarten on July 29, 2019, 9:07 am

    I have always disliked O’Rourke. Except of Bernie and Warren, I don’t trust any of them.

    • echinococcus on July 29, 2019, 10:43 am

      Sure. Trust the warmongering old mountebanks Sanders and Warren, you can’t go wrong.

      • genesto on July 29, 2019, 12:19 pm

        Sanders has, at least, acknowledged the humanity of the Palestinian people and the need to show them basic respect before a solution to the conflict can ever be achieved. And he did this in a 2016 campaign debate in New York City, no less!

        As for the warmongering part, yes, he is more militant than I’m sure most of us would like to see. But, he did vote against the Iraq War, and, with the possible exception of Tulsi Gabbard and Mike Gravel (Where are you on this, Julian?), is no worse than all of the other candidates in terms of seriously scaling back the nation’s war machine.

        Warren, on the other hand, is a militarist and no friend of the Palestinians, given her recent remarks expressing sympathy for Israel because of having to live in such a ‘tough neighborhood’ (of vicious, bloodthirsty Arabs, of course, which was left unsaid but well understood). It doesn’t get any more Arab racist than that!

      • echinococcus on July 30, 2019, 8:09 am

        “he did vote against the Iraq War”

        Except that he did vote for the law that was used to perpetrate the war of aggression on Iraq. That’s not the vote where he did his grandstanding comedy routine.

        It was the “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001″, which, according to their own Congressional Research Service, has been used since for another 41 aggressions, 20 times by Bush and 21 times by Obama. And Sanders, this most compliant fake-ïndependent” but most compliant member of the main administrative machine of the USZionist Empire, enthusiastically voted for the aggression. The essentially same-sounding law that just repeated that one year later was unnecessary for the aggression.

        The only Rep with the balls to vote No was Ms Barbara Lee.

        Also, don’t forget that after his comedy routine at the fake-Iraq vote, Sanders voted for all financing of the war.

        His only objection to any war is that it makes it harder for him to sheepdog the dissi-Democrats back to the fold. He shouldn’t worry, they fall for the trick every time, like clockwork.

  5. Kay24 on July 29, 2019, 10:33 am

    No American politician can be successful without kissing up that large zionist behind.
    They dare NOT say anything against Israel, and even if they do mildly, they make sure to blame the real victims, in their statements.

  6. CigarGod on July 29, 2019, 10:35 am

    Funny, he is all for imposing tough sanctions on other countries…

  7. brent on July 29, 2019, 1:15 pm

    American politicians, for half a century, have felt compelled to overlook Israel’s abuses. Candidates for office, be it state or federal, who want to survive, have tiptoed around. Its has not been safe politically to back Palestinians.

    I believe that is largely explained by the way Americans view the situation, deliberately cultivated by the myriad of competent organizations dedicated to Israel. We have heard over and over, politicians, when confronted, say “Israel has the right to defend itself”…. interpreted “to exist”. This has been Israel’s trump card to overcome criticism and to continue the usurpation.

    Trumping that card is of the highest priority.

    Many astute analysts say the two-state concept is a thing of the past, and see those advocating for it as ignoring reality. The PLO when founded, sought a secular state with equality for all citizens. They were attacked for seeking the “destruction of Israel” meaning an exclusive state for Jews. Realities have changed and a return to a secular state would create safe political ground for American politicians because seeking equality negates the victim narrative and would expose the realities so carefully concealed. Also, a secular state is far more likely to lead to a positive future for all. Injustice in Jerusalem is an existential threat.

    • eljay on July 29, 2019, 2:44 pm

      || brent: … The PLO when founded, sought a secular state with equality for all citizens. They were attacked for seeking the “destruction of Israel” meaning an exclusive state for Jews. Realities have changed … ||

      Which realities have changed? As far as I can tell, a “secular state with equality for all citizens” is still viewed by (pro-)Zionists as “seeking the ‘destruction of Israel'” – or, as someone put it the other day, “national suicide” – because it necessarily means the end of Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism.

  8. seancbreathnach on July 29, 2019, 2:27 pm

    Unfortunately Beto O’Rourke has already sold his soul to AIPAC, just like most of the candidates for President.

    • genesto on July 29, 2019, 5:04 pm

      Only Bernie is not reliant on AIPAC – or, more accurately, AIPAC-directed – campaign contributions to survive the campaign battle. In fact, he has basically told AIPAC to go to hell as far as kissing up to it for money as have practically all of the other candidates. That’s why he can be honest about Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians and not worry about any billionaire Zionists, like Singer or Saban, cutting him off and leaving his candidacy dead in the water. Of course, it will be quite another thing to generate enough money with individual $27 contributions if he should become the Democratic nominee. But, if anyone can do it without relying on corporate, especially Zionist corporate, money, it would be Bernie.

      • echinococcus on July 30, 2019, 7:19 am


        Of course it’s important to know who pays you but it’s infinitely more significant to know whose policy you follow. Sanders is following J-Street = ex-“Labor” = “Zionist Bloc” aims… with the gullible Dem voters’ money, and he’s done that for a lifetime. And he does that to bring the finally disillusioned back to the fold to vote for the worldwide dominant Zionist Party of the US, serving both AIPAC and its J-twin.

  9. RoHa on July 29, 2019, 8:12 pm

    It’s mostly the Palestinians’ fault, first for being born there, and second for not moving out as soon as they knew the Zionists wanted to move in.

    • Talkback on July 29, 2019, 10:46 pm

      Yes, RoHa, it’s actually antisemitism, because these Zionists were Jewish and wanted to create an Only-for-Jewish-nationals-state. It’s obvious that Palestinians were singling Israel out.

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