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Bernie Sanders gets ‘huge applause’ during debate for being only candidate to mention Palestinians

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There’s been a lot of grim news coming out of Israel/Palestine in recent months, but this hasn’t prompted debate moderators to ask the Democratic candidates about the subject. Last night was no different, but the issue was raised by Bernie Sanders during the foreign policy section of the evening.

“It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel,” said the Vermont Senator “But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve. What is going on in Gaza right now, where youth unemployment is 60, 70 percent, is unsustainable.”

Sanders comments prompted applause from the audience and praise from many progressives on social media. “You hear that applause for Palestinian rights at the Democratic debate?,” tweeted Sanders Foreign Policy Advisor Matt Duss, “Yeah you do.”

Numerous polls suggest that support for Israel is weakening among Democratic voters. Among Democrats, sympathy for Israel is weaker than it was before Mr. Netanyahu took office in 2009. A Gallup poll from earlier this year asked voters whether they were inclined to support Israel or Palestine and found that just 43% of Democrats are partial to Israel. That’s the lowest number in 14 years. A recent Data for Progress poll found that 65% of Democratic voters support conditioning military aid to Israel in response to its human rights record. An October report from the centrist Center for American Progress ended up with an even higher number when they posed the question: 71% of Democratic voters support such a move.

“The audience cheered when Bernie Sanders spoke about Palestinian rights because ordinary Democrats believe in Palestinian rights,” tweeted The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart, “And because they know that, even in the Democratic Party, acknowledging Palestinian humanity requires political courage.”

During MSNBC’s post-debate coverage, filmmaker Michael Moore also praised Sanders for his statements. “Tonight he said something that I don’t think I’ve ever heard at a Democratic debate…he said that the Palestinians were human beings. He said that we cannot support Israel and be against the Palestinian people. We’re being hypocritical if we do that. We support Israel, but that means we have to support the Palestinians. That got a huge applause.”

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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7 Responses

  1. just on November 21, 2019, 3:13 pm

    I yelled like a wildcat (with joy) when Bernie said what he said! I then growled like a grizzly and cursed) when NOT ONE of the others even bothered to raise their hand to comment. The much vaunted mods did NOT follow- up, either! Bernie’s words here did get the biggest, loudest, most sustained applause all night.

    Thanks, Michael.

    • JWalters on November 21, 2019, 7:31 pm

      Why did Bernie’s pioneering statement about an OBVIOUS and MASSIVE injustice get no response? The only reason I can think of is that everybody is afraid to say anything. Perhaps they fear losing their financial wherewithall. Perhaps they are afraid of winding up like Jeffrey Epstein, Israel’s host at their blackmail island, who was somehow murdered while in a Federal maximum security prison.
      “Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal”
      min * tpressnews. * com/mega-group-maxwells-mossad-spy-story-jeffrey-epstein-scandal/261172/
      “Famed medical examiner makes explosive claim regarding Epstein’s death”

      Note: The first link is STILL on Akismet’s spam list. To use it, copy it to your browser address field, then remove the two asterisks.

  2. FightTribalism on November 21, 2019, 4:10 pm

    Bernie is sensing the tidal change of public opinion and is throwing crumbs to pro-Palestinian side.

  3. brent on November 21, 2019, 6:43 pm

    Bernie’s comments are a glimpse of the political change and support in Congress once the primary narrative becomes fairness, justice and equality under the law instead of about Israel’s fears. Hopefully, this will become more widely appreciated.

  4. Misterioso on November 22, 2019, 10:25 am

    Slowly, but surely, Americans are finally realizing what a racist, fascistic monster Zionism and their country’s complicity, financial and otherwise, have created in historic Palestine.

  5. genesto on November 22, 2019, 1:02 pm

    As I’ve been saying, Bernie is slowly, but steadily, coming around on this issue. I think the fact that he is not 100% where we want him to be yet is more due to his still evolving from proud Zionist to, hopefully and eventually, non or anti Zionist than it is to political expediency.

    To us on the outside, it seems like a no-brainer to see Zionism for the evil it is and choose to have nothing to do with it. For a 78-year-old Jewish man, steeped in Jewish tradition and raised to think of Israel in heroic terms, it’s a much much harder.

    • pabelmont on November 23, 2019, 2:04 pm

      genesto: whatever else it may have been, Bernie’s statement (about jobs, not about assassination and murder etc) is not an exemplar of “political expediency”. That is what the silence of the other candidates was about.

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