Former Massachusetts Governor (and managing director of private equity firm Bain Capital) Deval Patrick has announced that he’s officially entering the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Patrick’s connections to the financial industry will presumably anger left-leaning voters, but his foreign policy record should also rankle progressives. Patrick has a long history of support for Israel and no record to show in terms of supporting Palestinian self-determination. The former governor has led delegations to Israel on numerous occasions. During a 2011 trip, Patrick met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and informed the press that his visit was one of “collaboration, friendship and steadfast support.”
In 2012, at the height of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, Patrick spoke at a pro-Israel rally in the Boston area. He told the crowd:
I came here tonight to stand with my friends. To stand with my friends who are worried sick about their friends and their family, here and in Israel. … And to stand with all of those who, like me, yearn for peace. Israel will endure and survive this, as scared and worried as we all are at this moment. Israel is timeless, it was meant to be, and she will survive.
According to an investigation by the human rights organization B’Tselem, 167 Palestinians were killed in the operation.
In 2014, Patrick led a trade mission of Massachusetts business leaders to Israel. There’s a large number of Israeli-founded businesses in the state and Patrick said the goal of the trip was to expand those partnerships. “It’s a very, very fruitful — and tangibly so — relationship,” he said. “The way to keep it going is to keep cultivating it.”
Water was one of the key focuses of that mission, as a 2011 Patrick trip to Israel had birthed the “Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership Water and Clean Energy Track.” The creation of that group inspired Boston residents to form an organization called Boston Alliance for Water Justice, to hold local officials accountable for their connections to water apartheid in Palestine. In response to news of the 2014 trade mission, Boston Alliance for Water Justice delivered a number of letters to Patrick that were written by Palestinian refugee children. The children their families’ struggles to obtain basic water needs. A 15-year-old named Ahmad wrote:
I don’t know what kind of work you are doing with Israel over water but I’ll tell you that you are supporting the occupation and violating human rights. Do you know that Israel steals most of the water and leaves almost nothing for us? Do you know that we don’t have enough water to take showers in the summer, to clean the house, to clean our clothes, and sometimes we don’t have enough water or clean water to drink because Israel doesn’t care about us.
“We are not asking you to help us with water but at least don’t be a partner with Israel in killing us. Maybe you should come to visit us while you are in Israel to see for yourself.
In 2014, Patrick attended another pro-Israel rally, this one taking place during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. According to the United Nations, at least 2,131 Palestinians were killed during the seven-week conflict. According to Palestinian Center for Human Rights statistics, 1660 of those killed were civilians. “I didn’t come here tonight for headlines, or for votes. I came here tonight to stand with my friends,” Patrick told the crowd.
“It’s very important to understand Governor Patrick’s participation within the context of Israel lobby politics,” the Gaza-born journalist Ahmed Moor told the local news at the time, “[He] really plays to a base that he knows he needs to play to.”
Earlier this year, Patrick gave the keynote address at The Consulate General of Israel to New England’s annual Israeli Executive Forum and promoted the concept of mandatory military service in the United States with Israel as a model.
— Israel in Boston (@IsraelinBoston) January 4, 2019
Right now @DevalPatrick is on @MSNBC saying mandatory military/civil service is the way to go, and lifting up Israel as a great example of this. Now Gen. McCrystal is on. Man, MSNBC is super trash. #DropTheMIC
— Adam Smith (@AdamOfTheSmiths) July 2, 2019