There have been four Democratic debates. In the last three, amazingly, Israel and Palestine never came up (see postscript). Then in last night’s debate in Ohio, a candidate finally brought up this important subject. Senator Amy Klobuchar called Israel a “beacon of democracy” in the context of Trump’s Syria pullout.
I think we need to talk about this not only in terms of the horror of what happened here with Turkey, but the fact that our president blew it and now he’s too proud to say it. And what do we do now? We continue that humanitarian aid, but then we work with our allies to say come back, Turkey, and stop this… Think about our other allies, Israel. How do they feel right now? Donald Trump is not true to his word when they are a beacon of democracy in the Mideast. Think about our allies in Europe when he pulls out of the Iranian agreement and [leaves] them holding the bag and gives the power to China and Russia.
Klobuchar’s salute was glancing, but it is a measure of how negative Israel’s reputation is on the left that she was soon hit emphatically on social media by a large number of progressive voices citing the country’s human rights violations. We often say that the Israel brand is tanking on the left, and Nancy Pelosi and J Street and new Israel lobby organizations (and the Forward and Bari Weiss, too) are determined to fight that shift. But the response to Klobuchar suggests that for progressives, the die is cast.
Arab American Institute:
Klobuchar just claimed that Israel is a “beacon of democracy” in the region. Millions of Palestinians who live under Israeli control without any political rights would disagree. There is a word for Israel’s rule over Palestinians: #Apartheid.
Daniel Denvir of Jacobin:
Israel is a beacon of democracy, says Klobuchar. What a gross thing to say about an eliminationist settler-colonial apartheid state.
A Bernie Sanders supporter:
Any Klobuchar just called Israel a “beacon of democracy”. Just let that sink in.
Mehdi Hasan of the Intercept:
Klobuchar – surprise! – calls Israel a “beacon of democracy in the Middle East”. Sigh. How about a segment in a presidential debate on Israel/Palestine and an examination of outdated, lazy, liberal talking points on it?
Howie Hawkins, presidential candidate of the Green Party:
Amy Klobuchar calling Israel a “beacon of democracy” is a cruel joke to the Palestinian people.
Kumar Rao, a former public defender in New York:
Occupation and apartheid not so consistent with democracy.
Current Affairs expressed shock over the pronouncement and featured a shot of accusations of Israel for war crimes over its Gaza live-fire policy.
AMY KLOBUCHAR JUST CALLED ISRAEL A BEACON OF DEMOCRACY
Omar Baddar of AAI:
This is (a) silly pandering, & (b) completely false. Israel is an apartheid state, maintaining total control over the lives of millions of Palestinians w/out granting them a vote or a voice.
Many are pointing out the racist insensitivity of the comment. Medea Benjamin of CodePink:
Does she even talk to Palestinians???
Bundist Samantha Cohen:
soooo i guess the only discussion about palestine will come from amy klobuchar falsely calling israel a democracy
Ali Abunimah touched on Klobuchar’s verb choice, “How do they [Israel] feel?” with an emoticon of vomiting:
Wow Klobuchar giving a shoutout to Israel’s feelings
The anti-occupation Jewish group IfNotNow also hopped on the comment:
Klobuchar is the first candidate to mention Israel at a debate in 2019. She called it a “beacon of democracy.” But Israel has maintained a military occupation for decades & the Palestinians living under that system can’t vote in its elections. That’s a beacon of democracy?
There were many more visceral responses. Royal Sapien, PhD:
Israel is not a fuckin beacon of democracy, ffs Klobuchar sit down.
Though Haaretz says Trump has brought Dems and Israel closer together at last: “Amy Klobuchar’s depiction of Israel in Democratic debate as ‘beacon of democracy’ is sweet music to the ears of worried supporters.”
Klobuchar was back on the Israel beat last night on twitter.
Thanks to Adam Horowitz and Michael Arria.