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Bloomberg defied a flight ban to show support for Israel, defended the country shelling a school and killing sleeping children

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In July 2014, Israel launched a series airstrikes on Gaza, kicking off a 51-day war that left thousands dead. According to the United Nations, at least 2,104 Palestinian were killed, including 1,462 civilians. 495 were children and 253 were women. Over 17,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged as a result of the attacks.

At the end of that month, the US Federal Aviation Administration briefly banned flights to Israel over security concerns. Former New York City Mayor, and presidential hopeful, Michael Bloomberg flew to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel-Aviv to protest the ban and show support for the Israeli government.

“Safely landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv – here to show support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” he tweeted after arriving in the country.

Bloomberg later penned an op-ed (for the media company he owns) explaining the reasons for his trip in more detail and pledging his full-support for the Israel’s actions:

During my brief time in Israel, I met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. I thanked them for standing with us after the Sept. 11 attacks and offered my strong support for their actions in response to the attacks by Hamas. Every country has a right to defend its borders from enemies, and Israel was entirely justified in crossing into Gaza to destroy the tunnels and rockets that threaten its sovereignty. I know what I would want my government to do if the U.S. was attacked by a rocket from above or via a tunnel from below; I think most Americans do, too.

In a Face the Nation appearance that August, Bloomberg was asked specifically about Israel shelling a United Nations school. The act was regarded as so callous that even the Obama administration put out a statement calling it “totally indefensible.” When asked if Israel had gone too far by host Norah O’Donnell, Bloomberg was clear in his response:

NORAH O’DONNELL: It’s difficult to watch the images that we air on our network and other networks. This week a school attack that had thousands in there. It was described as bloody mattresses. Children killed who were sleeping next to their parents. The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday, “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.” Did Israel go too far?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Israel cannot have a proportional response if people are firing rockets at their citizens. Can you imagine if one of the contiguous countries to America were firing rockets at America, the same people who are criticizing the Israelis would be going crazy demanding the President does more. Unfortunately, if Hamas hides among the innocent, the innocent are going to get killed because Israel just does not have any choice but to stop people firing– Hamas firing rockets at their citizens. They have a right to defend themselves and America would do exactly the same thing.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Doesn’t the Geneva Conventions lay out that you cannot attack schools or hospitals?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Nobody is attacking schools or hospitals. We are attacking Hamas. But Hamas is standing in the middle of a hospital. If they had– standing in the middle of a hospital and firing rockets at your kids, what would you expect us to do? Would you really want us to not try to stop them?

NORAH O’DONNELL: Mm-Hm.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: And, unfortunately, if there are innocents getting killed at the same time it’s not Israel’s fault.

Bloomberg’s support for Israel has been consistently unequivocal. In 2015, he pushed back on the Obama administration’s efforts to generate Democratic support for the Iran Deal. In 2013, Bloomberg marched alongside Danny Danon, the former deputy minister of Defense in the Netanyahu government, during New York City’s Israel Day Parade. Danon is a vocal advocate for annexation: “The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank, but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it,” he once told an Israeli TV station.

Michael Arria

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

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12 Responses

  1. Kay24 on February 14, 2020, 6:46 pm

    I remember this incident during Israel’s massacre of innocent civilians in 2014, who died by the hundreds, mostly women and children. I also remember Andrew Cuomo, and Jay Leno, flying over to zioland at that time, to show their unwavering support for a brutal nation, while totally ignoring the fact that women and children were being killed in UN shelters, little boys were deliberately killed playing football, and entire families were being wiped out by deadly precision bombs. These people have no souls, no conscience, no compassion, and support the criminals that occupies, steals and kills, with no concern for their victims.
    No way will Bloomberg get my vote.

    • JWalters on February 16, 2020, 10:18 pm

      “no conscience, no compassion”

      The arrogance of Zionists is clearly clinically extreme and pathological. Their willingness to justify appalling atrocities shows they are in need of a serious, major intervention. They are living in a deep, deep delusion, believing that ancient history and their “spiritual superiority” justifies their horrible crimes.

  2. Misterioso on February 14, 2020, 7:44 pm

    What a telling photograph! Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire Zionist zealot aspiring to be U.S, president and supporter of “Israel’s” atrocities against defenseless indigenous Palestinians, inluding children, and Netanyahu, a Zionist mass murderer, shaking hands on the tarmac.

    Contrast them with American Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a great humanitarian and American patriot who stands shoulder to shoulder with the long suffering Palestinians:

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-f-brown/aipac-hate-group-says-congresswoman

    “AIPAC is a ‘hate group,’ says congresswoman”

    By Michael F. Brown, Feb. 13/20
    The Electronic Intifada

    “Betty McCollum this week issued one of the hardest hitting criticisms of AIPAC from a sitting member of Congress in recent memory, perhaps ever.

    “Her statement provided the extraordinary sight of a US elected representative telling the anti-Palestinian organization enough is enough. She pushed back – and hard.

    “McCollum denounced as ‘hate speech’ the recent AIPAC Facebook ads that she said are ‘weaponizing anti-Semitism to incite followers by attacking me, my colleagues, and my work promoting human rights for Palestinian children detained in Israeli military prisons.’

    “Terming the organization a ‘hate group,’ she declared that ‘the struggle to advance human rights and promote human dignity inevitably results in confronting entrenched forces determined to dehumanize, debase and demonize individuals or entire populations to maintain dominance and an unjust status quo.’

    “McCollum – who has introduced legislation aimed at preventing US tax dollars from being used by Israel to harm Palestinian children – has not been reticent in criticizing discriminatory Israeli law previously.

    “In 2018 she termed the Israeli nation-state law ‘apartheid.’

    “Such language is simply not employed by members of Congress, who in general would far rather speak nicely to AIPAC’s annual conference than raise the least concern about decades of Israeli subjugation of Palestinians.

    “The Minnesota congresswoman took particular exception to an AIPAC petition connected to the ad which claimed: ‘It’s critical that we protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and – maybe more sinister – right here in the US Congress.’

    “She rightly termed the language ‘incitement.’

    “Particularly revealing in the episode was that McCollum’s comments came five days after AIPAC issued an apology for the ad. She has rejected that apology.

    “Backers of Palestinian rights across the country highlighted and cheered her words.

    “Ilhan Omar retweeted McCollum’s statement and Rashida Tlaib tweeted her own message of support for McCollum. Omar and Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, were also targeted by the AIPAC ad.

    “The question from here as Democrats such as presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren begin to skip the March AIPAC conference is how many members of Congress will criticize AIPAC’s vicious attack on their colleagues.

    “How many will also challenge the routine Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights? AIPAC works assiduously to convince Congress that these violations are acceptable and relatively benign because they serve the (falsely) perceived greater good of Israeli dominance over the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    “Nor is this the first time McCollum has been a leader in standing up to AIPAC. In a 2006 letter she said the organization would not be welcome in her congressional offices until it apologized for an AIPAC representative having ‘smeared’ her reputation by claiming she gave ‘support for terrorists.’

    “Netanyahu assaults free speech
    “As it happened, McCollum’s most recent statement coincided with a tweet from Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, claiming, ‘In recent years, we have promoted laws in most US states, which determine that strong action is to be taken against whoever tries to boycott Israel.’

    “Democratic presidential candidates, while not on board with the nonviolent, Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, have said they support the free speech rights of proponents. Now they are going to have to confront the fact that the government of Israel is promoting laws intended to limit the free speech rights of American citizens.

    “Whether members of Congress push back on this brazen assault on American rights remains to be seen. Better yet, they might consider the substance of a movement fighting for equal rights and freedom for Palestinians.

    “At the very least, Netanyahu’s tweet establishes unequivocally that Israel is working to diminish the cherished speech rights of American citizens concerned about human rights and actually doing something to promote them.

    “And AIPAC is working to attack American members of Congress who stand up for Palestinian children living under occupation.

    “McCollum, for her part, is steadfast, saying, ‘I will not back down from my commitment to peace, justice, equality, and human rights for Palestinians and Israelis.’

    “The Democratic Party is finding more courage in supporting Palestinian rights with elected representatives such as McCollum, Omar and Tlaib leading the way.”

    • Ernie on February 15, 2020, 4:32 pm

      Quite apart from insulting a rare vertebrate legislator, isn’t ‘a great humanitarian and American patriot’ an oxymoron?

      • Talkback on February 16, 2020, 4:36 am

        Not only great humanitarian American patriot, but also peace bringing American patrio:

        “Today another US patrol tried to cross an SAA checkpoint but was stopped & turned around.

        US commander tells the Syrian officer “we are here to bring peace just like the Russians” , Syrian officer replied ” Wherever US goes it brings death& destruction, u are not welcomed here””
        https://twitter.com/CoolHuh_/status/1228355966397231104

      • gamal on February 16, 2020, 11:47 am

        Also on twitter Fares Shehabi “To all those Idiots…..”

        https://twitter.com/ShehabiFares/status/1228315927336378370

      • Misterioso on February 18, 2020, 10:43 am

        @Ernie

        “…isn’t ‘a great humanitarian and American patriot’ an oxymoron?”

        Perhaps I should have been more precise. My essential point was that while both multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg and Congresswoman Betty McCollum were born in the U.S., Bloomberg’s first loyalty is to racist Zionism and the foreign expansionist, illegal/brutal occupier and ethnic cleanser entity known as “Israel.” However, as her record attests, Ms. McCollum’s loyalty lies with her fellow Americans and adherence to hard won fundamental international human rights law. Hence, her sustained efforts to end America’s complicity in the now near 72 years of horrors perpetrated by Zionists of foreign origin against the native Palestinians.

      • Ernie on February 18, 2020, 2:50 pm

        @ Misterioso

        Thanks for responding to my comment. I didn’t think the comment I was responding to was imprecise. It was contradictory. Humanitarianism, as I understand the term, is not compatible with any form of nationalism, much less its most virulent form – patriotism.

        I can’t claim to have followed the careers of either Bloomberg or McCollum, but I think it’s more likely that Bloomberg’s first loyalty is to his bottom line and his class than to any mere political construct like a state. In any case, why would anyone think it preferable to express loyalty to ‘the foreign expansionist, illegal/brutal occupier and ethnic cleanser entity known as’ ‘the USA’ than to the one known as ‘Israel’? Surely the US record of genocide, colonialism, annexation of conquered territory, unprovoked aggression, regime change, etc. dwarfs Israel’s?

        A little research seems to reveal that Rep McCollum’s record doesn’t really attest ‘her sustained efforts to end America’s complicity’. In a 2006 open letter to AIPAC, she affirmed ‘I am a supporter of a strong US–Israeli relationship’ (https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2006/06/08/a-letter-to-aipac/). And just last year she supported a bill’s ‘determination to advance U.S. leadership in seeking a diplomatic resolution to achieve a “two-state solution” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’. (https://mccollum.house.gov/media/statements-record) I applaud her courage in introducing legislation aiming to withdraw funding for oppression of Palestinian children, although in principle, I’d prefer the US stopped funding oppression of all children and adults everywhere. But it’s a far cry from opposing ‘now near 72 years of horrors perpetrated by Zionists of foreign origin against the native Palestinians’. Her explicit support for partition strongly suggests that she favours the persistence of a Jewish state in Palestine (https://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-many-states.html) and one or more Palestinian bantustans. I’d feel gratified if there were evidence of her taking a principled antiracist, anticolonialist stand against Zionism and sincerely hope you can point me towards it.

        I’m afraid I’m too young to remember the vast mobilisations and general strikes that brought about ‘hard won fundamental international human rights law’, but I’d expect to have read something about them somewhere. So I can’t help wondering in what sense you write of human rights law as ‘hard won’?

        You are probably aware of my views on International Law™ from my 2 February remarks on François Dubuisson’s piece (https://mondoweiss.net/2020/01/trump-plan-would-create-a-fictitious-palestinian-state-devoid-of-rights-under-international-law/), so I won’t belabour the point here.

    • Marnie on February 16, 2020, 12:19 am

      L’Etoile du Nord – Ms McCollum and Mis Omar.

  3. Vera Gottlieb on February 15, 2020, 4:28 pm

    Birds of a feather…

  4. JWalters on February 16, 2020, 10:27 pm

    How billions of dollars silence and coerce people by their mere presence.

    ” How EMILY’s List and Center for American Progress Sold Out to Bloomberg “
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/how-emilys-list-and-the-center-for-american-progress-sold-out-to-bloomberg/

  5. Donald on February 16, 2020, 11:21 pm

    Bloomberg is terrible in multiple dimensions. People have been pointing out his awful record on civil liberties. The depressing thing is that a great many NYT reading liberals don’t care. They don’t oppose Trump for principled reasons or they wouldn’t embrace Bloomberg. There have been several columns at the NYT about him and he has quite the fan club in the comment threads.. Needless to say, Palestinians don’t come up. But on the other hand, you don’t need to know what he says about Palestinians to know what a racist he is.

    Apparently with a lot of people it isn’t progressive except for Palestine. When it comes to civil rights a lot of so called progressives aren’t progressive at all.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/16/opinion/michael-bloomberg-2020.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage#commentsContainer

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