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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The most significant moment of the Democratic primary debate in Brooklyn – and perhaps any presidential debate this season – came when Bernie Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton over her refusal to criticize Israel’s excessive use of force against the Palestinians in Gaza. For the first time in memory, a major American political figure insisted publicly that the Jewish state and its leaders are “not always right” – and that in attempting to suppress terrorism, they had killed and injured far too many blameless human beings.

Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about his judgment that Israel’s military response to attacks from Gaza in 2014 was “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life,” the Vermont Senator answered firmly: “Yeah, I do believe that.” He mentioned that many other nations, including longtime allies of Israel, had denounced the atrocities in Gaza, along with human rights organizations around the world.

Having reiterated that he supports Israel as our ally — with every right to self-defense — Sanders said that “in the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”

That should be blindingly obvious, especially to Clinton, who has worked alongside President Clinton and President Obama toward a decent two-state solution for almost a quarter century. Hillary Clinton’s disappointing reply to Bernie Sanders on Israel reflected her political priorities in the New York primary, rather than her commitment to human rights or her assessment of American diplomatic interests.

She talked about her effort in negotiating a Gaza ceasefire, but that self-serving paean was evasive, as Sanders pointed out. Pressed for a serious answer, she pandered to the most conservative voters, Jewish and Christian, who mistakenly believe friendship with Israel means supporting any violence perpetrated by Israel’s government. She blamed the casualties among Palestinian civilians solely on Hamas, even as she vaguely mentioned “precautions” that Israel should have taken to prevent them.

This display of subservience to the most right-wing elements in Israel and its Washington lobby was all too typical of American presidential aspirants. Rarely does any U.S. politician dare to utter the truth about the conflict in Israel and Palestine. But coming from Clinton the usual pap sounds worse because, unlike the average pol, she possesses deep knowledge of the region.

When Bill Clinton was president, he and Hillary became close friends of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a former general in the Israel Defense Forces and a war hero who courageously sought a just peace with the Palestinians – and paid for that brave policy with his life when a right-wing fanatic assassinated him in November 1995. Her memoir, Living History, describes hopeful moments with Rabin and his wife Leah around the time of the Oslo accords — and an affecting account of the moments after President Clinton, who loved Rabin like a father, told her he had been murdered.

Hillary Clinton knows that the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, responsible for the Gaza disgrace and more, is far closer in outlook to the ultra-nationalists who applauded Rabin’s assassination than to the peacemaker whose death she lamented. She knows that Netanyahu’s aim is annexation, not negotiation. She knows that our interests – indeed, those of the entire world — can only be advanced by a just peace that both protects Israel and relieves the suffering of the Palestinian people.

The day after the Brooklyn debate, her campaign issued a lengthy press release: “Hillary Clinton and Israel: A 30-Year Record of Friendship, Leadership, and Strength.” But its failure to mention Palestinian rights and needs again revealed weakness, not “strength.” We can only hope that if she wins the presidency, she will prove herself to be a true friend of Israel and its people – as her husband did when he warned that unless they achieve a durable agreement with a new Palestine, Israelis will eventually lose their nationhood, their democracy, or both.

Unfortunately, Clinton’s current approach is the dismal standard in American politics, which made Sanders’ honesty even more refreshing. What a surprise to hear a Jewish candidate for president — the first with a realistic shot at his party’s nomination — speak so candidly and courageously about the country where he worked on a kibbutz as a young man. With those words Bernie made a bit of history, and earned a lot of respect.

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Copyright 2016 The National Memo

66 Responses to On Israel, Bernie Sanders Is Right (And Hillary Clinton Knows It)

    • Courage! Bernie never knows where he belongs. Whether it is the Party(Dem or Independent) or where his ancetors originated from.

      • He knows he belongs with those who treat people honestly and with compassion. He knew he belonged with those fighting for Civil Rights, with those fighting for LGBT rights and those who are trapped in the cycle of poverty while big corporations don’t pay their fair share of being part of America.

        The Party? I want values and INTEGRITY more than I want to call myself a Democrat, even though that’s how I have registered.

      • What the hell are you saying about his ancestors? Bernie has never been unclear about where his relatives were from.

  1. It must be snowing in hell. Joe Conason just admitted Bernie is right about something. Credit where credit is due.

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    • Right…I stopped listening or reading anything he says…until he finally came around to this truth…damn looking out to see if its snowing

      • We know Joe is in the tank for Hillary. But like I said, credit where credit is due. My respect for him went from absolute zero to 0.00000000001%. Hey, that’s still an improvement.

  2. What a load of crap.

    Where is the call for the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades to treat Israelis with respect and dignity?

    Where is the call for each of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades to treat their OWN people with respect and dignity?

    How about demanding that Hamas stop imposing criminal punishment on women because they got raped?

    Or is it maybe Israel’s fault that Hamas treats its own women that way?

    Let’s fire some rockets at Sanders’ house and see what he considers a “disproportionate” response to the rocket fire!

    • Filled with clap trap. Those “homemade rockets” are Chinese firecrackers that don’t even make it over the wall….how many Israelies have been killed from a rocket as opposed to F15’s flying over their heads and dropping white phosphorous on a people with no place to run or hide. Gaza is a 7 mile strip one of the most densely populated places in the planet.

      • Gaza’s weapons are flying drainpipes fired to let the world know that they are still there in spite of vicious Israeli onslaughts.

    • The amateurish fourth of July ‘rockets’ and fireworks are a world wide joke. At worst they scare the women and children. The response is that of one of the best armed militaries in the world.
      You guys that argue some type of equivalence between the horrific domination of the Netanyahu government and the Hamas militia trying to fight back against the increasing theft of their land and resources are also a world wide joke.
      Netanyahu and AIPAC lie and Palestinians die. Israelis get scared and Palestinians die. Republicans and Born again right wing Christians see coming Armageddon and Palestinians die. US politicians need to prove theirs is bigger than someone else’s and Palestinians die. The world cries and still Palestinians die.
      Welcome to the slow but certain holocaust one more time as Israel lies and lies and Palestinians all die.

  3. The longer this campaign rolls along, it’s becoming evident HRC is a manufactured candidate. Nobody owns Senator Sanders, he’s authentic and speaks the truth. Clinton is a “sale event’ where the senator evokes leadership.

  4. Everyday Hamas works to kills Israelis and he criticizes Israel? Is he retarded? If someone tries to kill you, excessive force is fine!

    • I thought that the Palestinians were just trying to get rid of their occupational force of land grabbers. You don’t seem to know anything about the chicanery by which the Zionist Jews got their tacky claws into the land of Palestine with the aid of the UK, the USA and Rothschild’s lawyers who wrote the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

      • So what you’re saying is, it’s ok for them to be terrorists because israel stole land. Hamas are the good guys right? You’re an idiot. With the logic you’re using, american Indians should start blowing us up because we took their land.

        • Is that the best analogy you can come up with to justify what Netanyahu and the most radical faction of the Jewish government has been doing to the Palestinian people?
          The overwhelming majority of Palestinians are not terrorists, and do not support terrorism. They have been victimized, dispossessed, abused, incarcerated, and killed for seven decades. The time has come to re-evaluate the situation, and remind people like Mr Netanyahu that the Israelis are not the only ones who have a right to exist.

          • You can’t be serious. The aggressor is the Palestinian government.all Isreal wants is peace. All the Palestinian government along with their Iranian backers want is for Isreal not to exist. Knowing that putting any blame on the Israelis is ridiculous. Of course there are times that Israel overreacts, but that doesn’t justify what is being done to them. Israel is not defenseless that’s why they still exist.

          • As you know by my previous posts I am not a Netanyahu fan. You may want to read up on your recent history. Netanyahu pulled out Jewish settlers by force to allow the soon to be citizens Palestine in Gaza free elections. This was supposed to be the beginning of the two state solution that Isreal was seeking. Unfortunately the Gazans elected Hamas who immediately called for inhalation of Isreal and began firing missiles into Isreal. Bibi got burned which to some justifies less than patient stance with Palestinians. There can be no two state solution until the Palestinians agree to Isreals right to exist. The Gazans must remove Hamas from the situation.

          • How do you negotiate with terrorists? Who did the people of Gaza elect as their leadership? How many Israeli suicide bombers do you know of? How do you negotiate a two state solution when the primary and only goal of the other side is to wipe you off the face of the earth. When have the Palestinians ever recognized Israel’s right to exist?

        • You are correct and the Australian aborigines should be fighting the contemporaneous theft of their oil rich discoveries. The immigrants keep them quiet with alcohol.

          • Like they did our Indians. My great great grandfather is Abram Burnett. The chief of the pottawatomis. He was marched to Kansas during the trail of death. But just like Palestine there is no excuse for terrorism. To compare Israel to the Palestinians on a moral basis is completely rediculous.

          • You’re correct, now let’s talk about current affairs. Hamas are the terrorists and they want Israel wiped of the face of the earth. So if the Israelis are a little to mean for you so what.

  5. Hilary speaks like Bibi…she has been in the pocket of Israel her whole career. Hamas was duly elected by the Gazans, because Abbas continuously sold them out to Israel. Israel has the 5th largest military on the planet along with NUCLEAR weapons, the Palestinans don’t have a one fighter jet. Gaza is the biggest outdoor prison in the world, which Bibi and his Likud Nazis state, “we must mow the land every couple of years”. Not one building has been repaired, and its a damn lie that the Israelies left Gaza…they fly over Gaza every day and night, they have check points to prevent people entering or leaving even to go to a hospital. Wolf Blitzer gave Bernie a “gotcha question” because he knew Bernie wouldn’t dodge the question to pander to the right wing Zionists in NY. Bernie like Hilary does all her career.We love you Bernier cuz you wont pander, you just tell the truth.

    • You say a lot of true things and in the process tell the truth that the majority of Americans want to hear. If not completely successful in 2016, do all that we can to build a progressive base at every level of government over the next decade. The revolution is not an event, it is a process. We will not see its’ full fruition except in the rear view mirror years in the future. That is the future to which we Sanders supporters must all commit.

    • The great part about the debates is that they are not one sided rallies — you get to see the candidates side by side. Their differences are starts. Sanders acts from consistent values. Sanders is wholly and solely what he says he is.

      And he IS right — the Palestinians have a hopeless situation. Infrastructure bombed, unemployment high (so a bunch of angry young men…), water issues.

      • The Isrealis need to get rid of Netanyahu. His actions may pose the greatest security risk to the US in years.

  6. I disagree with Joe Conason on this. It was in 1948 when the United Nations decided Jewes must settle on the Holy Land after all the suffering they experienced. All participants agreed then. It is not right for palestinians to fight with Israel. If they want the real fight, they must place it to the United Nations and not to Israel.

  7. How often have we seen an “outsider” with lofty notions and a seemingly nice and fresh approach have that loftiness brought down to earth once one gets entangled in the mess called partisan-politics with machiavellian proclivities embedded in its fabric.

    When a system is based not on consultation, objectivity, and a real sense of duty that embraces the planet, but rather on intrigue, deception, hostility, “limited unities”, obstruction, and loyalties restricted to certain pet interests then we have an atmosphere in governance that tarnishes even those with the best intentions.

    This recent row, the proposed “9/11 Bill”, the vaudeville act by the Wingnuts, etc. is another sign that a paralyzed system that defines all the current secular and religious forms of administration are badly in need of scrapping, in favor of something that transcends the petty limitations that currently envelop the planet.

    Such a “new” system is alluded to by these words—“THE world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System—the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.”

    Perhaps, we may be able to fashion a new form of governance with the cornerstone of “The Oneness Of Humanity”.

    Then, we may see some resolutions take shape in a comprehensive way that sees the earth in these terms—“The earth is but one country and humankind its citizens”, a theme repeated enuciated by Baha’u’llah.

    Just saying.

  8. what determines when a reaction is proportionate. If one Israeli is killed does that mean only one Palestinian can be killed. Hamas is waging a dis proportionate war by impeding fighters among the general population and storing rockets in mosques . what results i public relations nightmare for Ises

  9. The “Israel can do no wrong” mantra worn so proudly by American politicians on both the left and the right ignores the brutal aggression of the Israelis. Admittedly, Israel inhabits an extremely difficult and dangerous neighborhood. It deserves a secure homeland.

    But that does not give it the right to grab more and more disputed land for settlements, create increasingly difficult conditions for the Palestinians and use military force which often seems way out of proportion.

    Neither does it serve its own purposes by branding anyone who disagrees with its policies as both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic.

    • If you really believe that God promised Israel to the Jews, you need your head testing! Zionists use the myth of a man, a woman and a talking snake to justify their land theft.

      • Mr. Kelsall: my head is OK. And if I thought God has promised Israel to the Jews, I would have suggested he/she could have found a better geography and a better leader than Netanyahu. It is an unfortunate characteristic of democracy that we often get what we wish and vote for.

        Now trashing ‘myths’ is something of a mythstake. As Joseph Cambell and Carl Jung would no doubt argue, myths are central to our head-tested being.

        • All but a blessed few need our fantasies to survive in an ever confusing world. Magic, wizards, miracles, priests, sacrifices and defeat of death have all been around since the mystics first bowed to rocks, trees and rivers to justify the chance events in people’s lives.
          Logic, reason and the ascendency of humans in evolution on this planet terrifies those who fear eternal death of the body and probable eternal death or its’ equivalent of the spirit or soul of man. Till the last sparks of our humanity are quenched, there is a part of most of us that will believe in the phoenix of all of us..

    • Peter, you don’t get it. The Jews are not grabbing anyone’s land. There was border demarcation and beacons were put so that every side has to know their boundaries. The fighting is always coming from Palestinians because all the time they demand to get their land back. They are always provactive.

      • Perhaps I don’t get it and the Palestinians can certainly be provocative in trying to assert their assumed rights. But they have a lot of legitimate grievances which have not been addressed by the right wing Israeli government which you’ll no doubt admit is regularly provocative and aggressive.

        There are in fact no rights and plenty of wrongs on both sides. But without both sides having an honest willingness to fix it, we will have nothing but more bloodshed.

    • She does have some standards. She will never do anything to diminish the power and authority of Israel, Saudi Arabia or their allies. That is both a part of her political calculations and she is a true believer in and supporter of the MIC including both the CIA and the Pentagon as well as their suppliers and their formal and informal supporters. Some will be happy about that others will not. She is not as bad as most Republicans but she is among the most militaristic of the Democrats. She and Feinstein are as much a part of the NSA/’intelligence’ community in our country as any of the most militaristic Republicans. If that is what people want, she is far better than Trump could ever be. She has better connections and established power there than Trump or Cruz could ever hope to have..

  10. Sen. Sanders is 100% correct. The time has come to rethink our unconditional support of Israeli policies towards the Palestinian people, and the pursuance of a two-state solution. We stand alone in the civilized world in our unconditional support of policies that often border on genocide or, as a minimum, in human rights abuses unworthy of one of the oldest and most remarkable cultures on the planet.

  11. “Rarely does any U.S. politician dare to utter the truth about the
    conflict in Israel and Palestine. But coming from Clinton the usual pap
    sounds worse because, unlike the average pol, she possesses deep
    knowledge of the region.”

    And how. If you’re ignorant of the region (as many are) and you support Israel, that can be forgiven. If you actually understand how the region is put together, and you still support Israel, you must be a real bastard.

    • Yes we are real bastards for supporting a Domocratic government and free enterprise system. Sorry if we take issue with suicide bombers and people who have no tolerance for others and those that practice Sharia law. We do not share the same values as these monsters and will fight for the Jews right to exist in this world. Good will overcome evil.

      • No, my friend. All of the domocrats may support Netanyahu’s oligarchic right wing neoliberalism but the Democrats do not. (Well except for Hillary, DWS and Schumer). Your effort to demonize every opponent to the war-mongering far right wing of the Israeli government says much more about your crusading mentality than it does about those who advocate justice and equality in the battle for achieving the two-state solution.

        • How does one negotiate with terrorists? Is Hamas the leadership of the Palestinians wanting a two state solution? Has Hamas recognized Isreals right exist? Please elaborate what gives you any impression that the Palestinians are interested in a two state solution? They are not. Until recently the Israelis have shown tremendous restraint against the Palestinian leadership and those that elected them. For all practical purposes the Palestinians should be residing at the bottom of the Dead Sea.

    • Hillary scores higher on honesty than Bernie. Fair isn’t just saying the obvious, it’s also doing something, the Palestinians negotiators trust her, but they also trust that the US has little influence, although it would be nice if lawmakers would keep us out of paying for that ammo and those weapons.

  12. Yet another anti-Semitic oped writer hiding his hatred of Jews behind a think veneer of pretending to be really anti-Israeli. Admit it, you want Hamas to succeed in wiping out every last Jews.

    • Have you ever criticized an American president or American policy on anything ever? If so, admit it, your a blatant hater of the United States of America and want ISIS to succeed in wiping our every last American.

      Yes, that’s exactly what you sound like.

  13. Bernie knows he gets a pass from AIPAC. Bernie tried to have the American taxpayer reimburse Israel for every bomb, every missile, every white phosphorus shell and every depleted uranium shell, and every single bullet the IDF used to savage the defenseless civilians in Gaza.

  14. Congratulations Joe Conason – I believe you are a Hillary supporter yet are willing to be critical on this issue. Hoping that you keep moving and realize that the same-old, same-old corporate sponsored politics isn’t cutting it and come over to Bernie Sanders and the rest of us fighting for democracy.

  15. Good points and well written as always, but your critique of Clinton only gives the anti-Clintonites ammunition. “Even Joe Conason, the Clintons’ most die-hard supporter, says…” etc. Why help those not devoted to the Clintons? Doesn’t make sense, IMHO.

  16. We’ the people of America finally decided to buy our own president, we have more money in combine than they can (1%) dream of .please send Bernie Sanders few dollars, this will be the last time anyone will be able to buy a president in this country. when Bernie Sanders is a president, he will over turn the Citizens United just to begin with and will force campaign finance reform and it will pass with our backing of Bernie. please few dollars, $10-20-30 anything you can effort ,he buys adds , unfortunately it has to be this way for now, l beg all of you ,for our children( 88% voting for their Grandpa )and for their future . l , this grandpa will vote with my kids and with my grandchildren, they are wanting a political revolution . after all this is more of their future than ours, Bernie Sanders American president. who is with me give me thumbs up if you agree and lets show them he can be elected, Write a latter to CNN feedback and let them know CNN became Clinton News Network -Time Warner- owns CNN and they are the 7th biggest contributors to Hillary campaign, BOYCOTT CNN -AND TIME WARNER COMPANIES -Turn it off , stop reading their news in Internet, copy post this massage in every site let Bernie supporters get involved .lets show CNN this is going to cost them money AND We have to make sure GANGS OF NEW YORK do NOT steal the Votes from BERNIE.

  17. it’s a sad day when a guy who says Palestinian rights should also be spoken for makes news.

    Of course Hillary agrees with that, and so does Obama, and even George Bush thought there should be a two-state and he was all ‘green light on lawn mowing.

    If the US had influence over Israel’s occupation policies there would have been a two-state solution long ago. Bernie supports the right of Israel to defend itself, and that is the issue, it’s mowing lawns, not words.

    Real diplomacy has to take place, the Israelis have all the strength, the Palestinians have nothing. What will Bernie do for them if he were somehow elected president? I’d say far less than Hillary, he would be completely ignored, she managed to keep Bibi from using the so-called targeted nuclear strikes in Iran before the nuclear treaty got off the ground, that was an achievement. That was from long and trusted relations with Israeli military leadership, and a speech affirming the US would retaliate for them if they were nuked.

    Bernie has done nothing to foster trust, and if the Palestinians foolishly thought his empty words would protect them, more of them will die over the mistake, Bernie will be just fine.

    I liked hearing it too, it wasn’t they no right to mow lawns, but it was something. But since he won’t be elected, he could have gone farther.

    • Why did the people of Gaza elect Hamas to their leadership after the Israelis pulled their settlements out of Gaza. Sorry, some of us actually know the history of the region.

  18. If one were simply to look at a moment in time it would be understandable to wonder if Israel did, in fact, use excessive force against the Palestinians. If, on the other hand, one took the time to consider an historical context and an analysis of the motivations and tactics of each side, I believe the question of excessive force would be far less clear. Simply put, the Palestinians emphatically declined any opportunity to peacefully reside among the Jews in the newly formed state of Israel, and along with their Arab brethrens’ armies immediately waged war against the fledging country. Their subsequent leadership rejected any opportunity for peaceful resolution, and instituted an education regimen that continues to propagandize a hatred of Israelis and Jews along with their own perpetual victimhood, so that for generation after generation of Palestinians, hopelessness and hatred was all they knew. Their leadership was corrupt – Arafat, for example, socked away billions in his European bank accounts – and maintaining the status quo meant that he could continue to steal from his own people, which only added to the feelings of hopelessness and hatred. So much so, that, unlike their Israeli neighbors, much of their resources were directed to funding terrorism – the procurement of weapons, missiles, tunnel building, bomb making, and the like, instead of being used for building infrastructure, an economy and social welfare.

    An important issue that tends to get overlooked is motivation. Palestinians target Israeli civilians. Israelis do not target Palestinian civilians. Palestinians try to kill as many Israeli men, women, and children as they possibly can. Israelis try their best to avoid Palestinian casualties. A basic tenet of Hamas, the elected leaders of the Gazan Palestinians is the utter destruction of Israel. Israel has always wanted peace. Palestinian militants hide their missiles and launchers among civilians, in schools, hospitals, mosques. They have no real concern for their own people, and in fact use civilian casualties to further their own victimhood propaganda to the media and the world. Unfortunately, it seems to be working, as evidenced by articles like this one and statements from prominent people, like Bernie Sanders, who as a Jew should know better than to lend legitimacy to the rabid anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic propaganda that permeates our country and the rest of the world.

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