“Given the spread of the coronavirus in the West Bank and Gaza, the extreme vulnerability of the health system in Gaza, and the continued withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian people, we are concerned that the Administration is failing to take every reasonable step to help combat this public health emergency in the Palestinian Territories,” reads the letter. It was lead by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), but was also signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden told the Israel lobby group AIPAC this week that it is “dangerous” for Israel to become “another issue that divides Democrats and Republicans.” But he warned that Israeli moves to build more settlements and annex occupied territories were threatening that divide by alienating young Americans.
The pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC once prided itself on doing its business in the dark. But today loving Israel too much is being politicized in the age of Trump. The battle between the liberal Israel lobby and the rightwing Israel lobby portends a day when leftwingers who support boycotting Israel will not be railroaded instantly from US politics.
A coalition of progressive organizations has launched a campaign aimed at pressuring Democratic candidates into skipping the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington.
“Well if I do go — I don’t think I am, I don’t think it’s going to be on my schedule — but you know, I have no objection to going, but the question is what I say when I get there. That’s the point. And what I will say is something that I have said for years, and I speak as somebody who’s Jewish, and that is we need a foreign policy in this country, we need a Mideast policy which absolutely protects the integrity and the independence and safety of Israel, but also understands that the Palestinian people have needs and they have got to be treated with respect and dignity. And that is not the case right now. So that is my view. We will treat all people with respect and dignity.”
The Democrats who say that we only need to get rid of Netanyahu for Israel to be great again should be aware of the long history of plans by the Labor politicians to annex the Jordan Valley, lately endorsed by Netanyahu’s “liberal” rival, Benny Gantz. Annexation is the buzzword.
Elizabeth Warren’s very-carefully modulated position on Israel/Palestine– praising Israel as a great ally and liberal democracy but also saying she might condition aid over annexation of the West Bank — reflects official liberal thinking, and the J Street line.
The foreign policy talking point for mainstream Democratic presidential candidates is fighting “terrorism.” Amy Klobuchar went so far as to call Iran a “terrorist regime.” Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren did not use that word, while offering eloquent statements about the failures of U.S. foreign policy.
Bernie Sanders is being painted as an antisemite by some pro-Israel idelogues because he has taken strong positions in support of Palestinian human rights. Progressive defenders of Palestinian rights need to mobilize to oppose the campaign against Sanders, even if they don’t support Sanders’s presidential ambitions.
Takeaway from the latest Democratic debate: the Israel brand is not so popular in the Democratic Party. The embraces were lukewarm. Bernie Sanders said Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist and if elected, Sanders would have an even-handed policy, including being “pro-Palestinian.” Joe Biden was the only candidate to laud the “Jewish state” but he said Netanyahu’s actions in the West Bank are “outrageous.”