The difference between Clinton and Sanders on Israel and AIPAC


AIPAC (American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) is one of the key components of the Israel lobby in the US and plays a powerful force in elections, similar to the role that the NRA plays. It advocates for very hardline Israeli policies against the Palestinians and also against any nation that it or the Israeli government deems to be opposed to Israel. Needless to say, it vigorously opposed the nuclear deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran.

So it is not unusual for American politicians to make a pilgrimage to the annual AIPAC convention and declare their unwavering loyalty to Israel, and this year saw the usual parade with one notable exception, Bernie Sanders, who happens to be the only Jewish contender among those seeking the presidency.

But what was remarkable was the extent of the extreme pandering that Hillary Clinton indulged in at AIPAC. In an article titled Hillary Clinton’s AIPAC Speech Symphony of Craven, Delusional Pandering, Michelle Goldberg writes:

Any presidential candidate speaking to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, during an election year is going to bow to the hawkish elements of the Israel lobby. Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech at AIPAC’s annual meeting Monday, however, was more debased than it needed to be, promising that under her administration, Israel will be spared even the mild rebukes it has suffered under President Obama. A symphony of pandering, it attempted to outflank Donald Trump on the right and will end up outraging a large chunk of the left.

As Joe Biden acknowledged in his AIPAC speech on Sunday, Israel’s “steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalizing outposts, seizing land” is making a two-state solution impossible. The settlements are pushing Israel toward a one-state reality, in which Jews rule over the Arabs with whom they are geographically intermingled. Clinton’s speech, however, barely nodded toward this reality, and when it did, it was with a promise to protect Israel from the consequences of flouting international law.

Here is the entirety of Clinton’s remarks about settlements: “Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear—I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.”

As is typical, the UN is praised by the US only when it agrees to do what the US wants and is condemned and defied when the US or Israel opposes its actions. Of course Clinton attacked the BDS movement as well.

Goldberg concludes:

This year of all years, Clinton could have afforded to show a bit of courage before AIPAC. Jews will vote Democratic no matter what. Sixty-nine percent of them voted for Obama in 2012, despite the well-known tension between him and Netanyahu. Unlike Obama, Clinton is going to be running against a demagogue with German roots who plays footsie with white supremacists and reportedly kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches beside his bed. She’ll have all the Jewish support she needs without sucking up to the Likud.

So why is she doing it? Her correspondence with adviser Sid Blumenthal—a man loathed by the Israel lobby for not disavowing his anti-Zionist son, Max—suggests that she’s aware of the damage Netanyahu is doing to the cause of peace in the Middle East. But if she is, she doesn’t care about it enough to take even a tiny political risk, to tell a crowd something other than exactly what it wants to hear. Either Clinton’s AIPAC speech was driven by belief, or it was driven by cynicism. It’s hard to say which is worse.

So we have, if we needed it, yet another example of craven Clinton pandering, telling people what they want to hear.

Donald Trump is no slouch when it comes to pandering either. In one debate he showed a sliver of independent thinking when he said that he would adopt a neutral stance between Israel and Palestine in order to broker a deal and would not commit to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. Both of those statements angered the Israel lobby and AIPAC so when he spoke to AIPAC, he reversed course on both.

Bernie Sanders could not make it to AIPAC but offered to give his speech via remote link but AIPAC refused, though they have accommodated other speakers this way in the past. Zaid Jilani links to the speech Sanders would have given to AIPAC but that he gave in Salt Lake City instead. In his speech,Sanders spoke about the suffering of the Palestinians but, as Jilani notes, few US media outlets covered it.

Sanders released the text of his speech. Here is part of it and I urge everyone to read the full thing because he said things that few Americans hear.

I am here to tell you that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel. But to be successful, we have to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza, they suffer from an unemployment rate of 44 percent – the highest in the world – and a poverty rate nearly equal to that. There is too much suffering in Gaza to be ignored.

Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel.

Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.

Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence.

But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic wellbeing for the Palestinian people.

Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part. That’s why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.

Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors. Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives, and there is nothing human life needs more than water.

Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist. Of course, I strongly condemned indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes.

However, let me be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians, and wounded far more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.

Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles”, – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.

Katie Miranda imagines what would have the reaction of the audience at AIPAC if Sanders had given his speech there.

bernie

Comments

  1. Andrew Dalke says

    Miranda’s comic suggests that Sanders is the “only U.S. presidential candidate to have ever lived on a kibbutz.” If Sanders really were to say the words put into his mouth, he would quickly be criticized.

    Michelle Bachmann, 2012 Republican candidate, lived on a kibbutz in 1974. She has mentioned it at previous AIPAC conferences (see http://tcjewfolk.com/michele-bachmann-israel/ ), and both Bachmann and Sanders are listed as notable kibbutz volunteers at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibbutz_volunteer . I believe it also made it to The Daily Show, which is how I heard about it.

  2. lorn says

    Referencing Bernie:
    He pens a litany of actions that must happen, but offers little insight into what specific actions a president might take.
    – “Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.”
    – “But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.”

    From: http://agonist.org/sanders-middle-east-policy-short-on-actionable-items/

    Like so many other plans proposed by Sanders there is a whole lot of good thought about what conditions have to be met to get to the goal of a better world. It is a wonderful, compelling, vision. But it is very light on details about exactly how we meet those conditions.

    People have been trying to get the Palestinians and Israelis to agree to those changes in policy and attitudes for 65 years. So far … no dice. Even the slightest incremental steps toward progress have been been reversed, or blown up and made things worse.

    We have tried land for peace. Israel gave up hard won settlements only to see relation go south. A coalition tried to move to a two-state solution but Yasser Arafat saw transitioning from leader of an armed revolt to leader of peaceful farmers as a step down in power and prestige.

    In my opinion, as much as I like Bernie’s optimism and goals, when it comes right down to it, his plan are no more credible than Trump’s claim he will ‘build a wall, and get Mexico to pay for it’.

  3. doublereed says

    He pens a litany of actions that must happen, but offers little insight into what specific actions a president might take.

    Hillary Clinton didn’t either. This is not the point or aim of the speech. Such sad and hollow criticism.

    You have to agree on facts before you can begin to have such a discussion. It has been abundantly clear that right-wing forces in Israel have no desire for peace and no care for Palestinian life.

  4. patrick2 says

    It was refreshing to see Sanders mention water here. Control over West Bank water is one of the single biggest factors in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it rarely gets mentioned by US politicians, who usually just promise to support Israel’s actions in the name of security.

  5. StevoR says

    @3. Marcus Ranum :

    Israel gave up hard won settlements
    What an interesting choice of words.

    Why so ?

    Have you looked into Israeli history and what the Jewish settlers have l been through? Imagined it from their perspective?

    Empathised with them and their struggles against terrorism and hatred from Arab enemies who refused to see them as actually human or consider the idea of peace and living together?

    What do you really know about or appreciate about them? Cut them do they not bleed, wrong them, shall they not .. well, you can look up Shakespeare and see Shylock’s plea for acceptance and understanding of his humanity if you choose to. Will you?

    Ad if I don’t argue for Israel and the rights of its millions of individual lives to live and exist in peace here, who will? You?

  6. StevoR says

    @5. patrick2 : “..it rarely gets mentioned by US politicians, who usually just promise to support Israel’s actions in the name of security.”

    And they should do otherwise because?

    You want Israel to be less secure because ..?

    Also do really you think control over Judean and Samarian (aka er ..WestBankan?) or Israeli water was the reason the Arabs tried to exterminate the Jewish state in 1947, 1967, 1973 and basically ever since Israel was created by United Nations decree among other things accepted by among others the then Soviet Union back in 1948 and the Arabs have somehow never simply sat down and negotiated a reasonable peace that they’ve ever chosen to keep with the Israelis because?

    Well some extraordinary evidence is needed to support your extraordinary and unsubstantiated claim right there.

  7. StevoR says

    So we have, if we needed it, yet another example of craven Clinton pandering, telling people what they want to hear.

    Er, do you ever think Sanders might be “pandering” to the (US) Far Left & telling them what they want to hear as well / instead?

    Doesn’t it occur to you that Hillary Clinton might be fully sincere and saying what she actually thinks and believes and has concluded based on all the real evidence she knows?

    Don’t you”ever consider that you might be using Hillary “panders” versus Bernie just “says” like media reporters used
    Katrina refugees African American “looted”versus white Katrina victims “salvaged” here, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-jones/black-people-loot-food-wh_b_6614.html ) Mano Singham?

    What exactly do you think is factually wrong or unethical with what Hillary Clinton said here?

    Why exactly do you seemingly claim Hillary Clinton is insincere and not just being true to who and what she is and thinks, please?

  8. patrick2 says

    @StevoR #7
    Who said anything about making Israel less secure? But I suspect security is often an excuse for keeping control of the West Bank’s immensely valuable water reserves. The large majority of settlement blocks are on parts of the West Bank with the most water, and for a country like Israel with chronic water shortages, having that land is obviously important. One reason peace negotiations fell through is that Israel redrew the boundaries to keep those most arable parts of the West Bank, and returning to the 1967 borders would mean Israel loses some of that valuable water.

    As for Arab governments, they are not interested in destroying Israel. They have plenty of other problems, and have all said they would establish diplomatic ties with Israel if a two-state solution is implemented.

  9. StevoR says

    @ ^ patrick2 :

    Who said anything about making Israel less secure?

    Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and plenty of others on the Jihadist side. In fact their aim is to not only make Israel less secure – demonstrated and accomplished by constantly attacking it in every way they can – it’s to wipe Israel off the map entirely and replace it with another Islamist Arab dictatorship or / & theocracy.

    But I suspect security is often an excuse for keeping control of the West Bank’s immensely valuable water reserves. The large majority of settlement blocks are on parts of the West Bank with the most water, and for a country like Israel with chronic water shortages, having that land is obviously important.

    Your suspicions don’t negate Israelis rights to live in peace securely free from terrorist or military attacks. Water can be obtained by desalination and many Arab nations I believe rely in that successfully. The Jewish people and Israelis also have long historical and cultural claims to the lands of Judea and Samaria – the former name should perhaps be more than a bit of a clue there! Israel also has less than a third of the original mandate which was divided by the British and UN – Jordan has taken two thirds of it so the Arabs already have more than their fair share of land here.

    One reason peace negotiations fell through is that Israel redrew the boundaries to keep those most arable parts of the West Bank, and returning to the 1967 borders would mean Israel loses some of that valuable water.

    Another more important reason that peace negotiations fell through is the hatred of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad etc .. and Yasser Arafat’s unwillingness to actually make a final peace even on the most generous terms he could ever realistically wish for. In fairness, I guess he saw what happened to Anwar Sadat.

    As for Arab governments, they are not interested in destroying Israel. They have plenty of other problems, and have all said they would establish diplomatic ties with Israel if a two-state solution is implemented.

    Actually a lot of the internal problems in their own nations are why so many Arab dictatorships have used Israel as a scapegoat and are interested in destroying the Jewish state as a distraction from their own domestic failures. Their history – and broader Jewish & global history – shows they do need to have their threats taken seriously.

  10. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    Actually a lot of the internal problems in their own nations are why so many Arab dictatorships have used Israel as a scapegoat and are interested in destroying the Jewish state as a distraction from their own domestic failures. Their history – and broader Jewish & global history – shows they do need to have their threats taken seriously.

    By now, I would find it remarkable if you could understand and incorporate this fact into your apologetics: It is Israel who has by force of arms conquered and occupied territories from its neighbours, and it is Israel which has ghettoised the inhabitants of the West Bank and of Gaza and of East Jerusalem.

    I expect you shan’t.

    To pre-empt the usual retort, note that a territory can be simultaneously occupied and disputed.

  11. John Morales says

    So much wrongness… just one more:

    […] and Yasser Arafat’s unwillingness to actually make a final peace even on the most generous terms he could ever realistically wish for.

    1. That would be the Yasser Arafat who got the Nobel Peace Prize after signing the Oslo Accords, right?

    2. The man died in 2004; let him rest in peace.

    3. If party A refuses to actually make a final peace even on the most generous terms they could ever realistically wish for, it entails that party B likewise refuses to actually make a final peace even on the most generous terms they could ever realistically wish for.

  12. StevoR says

    Relevant interesting if at times depressing documentary here :

    http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/638305347878

    EXPIRES TOMORROW. (Aussie time – not sure exactly when.) Pat I of II – hope it works here outside Oz.

    So close. Sometimes to things becoming so much better, occasionally to them being so much worse.

    WARNING : Some confronting images of violence and gory aftermaths.

  13. StevoR says

    @11. & 12. John Morales :

    StevoR:

    “Actually a lot of the internal problems in their own nations are why so many Arab dictatorships have used Israel as a scapegoat and are interested in destroying the Jewish state as a distraction from their own domestic failures. Their history – and broader Jewish & global history – shows they do need to have their threats taken seriously.”

    By now, I would find it remarkable if you could understand and incorporate this fact (I) into your apologetics: It is Israel who has by force of arms conquered and occupied territories from its neighbours, (II) and it is Israel which has ghettoised the inhabitants of the West Bank and of Gaza and of East Jerusalem. (III) I expect you shan’t. (I)

    I) Which fact? The facts above that I have just pointed out? Or your assertions following my factual point over Arabs internal issues leading to them using Israel as a scapegoat? If the former, then I not only shall incorporate that fact I have already done so whilst others have ignored it. If the latter well, there’s much more to it and those facts are incorrect by virtue of being misleadingly incomplete and out of context.

    II) Well, its true that Israel gained these territories from its neighbours – Jordan and Egypt however that came about because Jordan and Egypt along with other Arab states and the Palestinians waged an aggressive war of extermination against Israel which they then lost badly and deservedly. It also true and important to note that both Egypt and Jordan have subsequently renounced their claims on the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria. Rather a pity that Egypt couldn’t or wouldn’t take back Gaza really. The Egyptians would almost certainly have crushed the Hamas terrorists there much more forcefully but with much less criticism than Israel has ever done.

    III) As for Israel “ghettoising” the Palestinian territories, well, not really. If you refer to the Security fence Israel constructed against homicide-suicide bombers and other attacks, that was specifically built to prevent terrorism and has been remarkably successful in that aim. I’ll note that the 1967 “green line” boundary is one that the Arab side themselves rejectded as a border (multiple times in fact) and won’t be adopted because it is indefensible in the literal sense that it is a border Israel cannot defend and thus there is no realistic chance of it ever being adopted as a border. If you refer to the Palestinians regrettable lack of adoption of birth control and female education and empowerment combined with the misuse of aid to assist in building terror tunnels, paying corrupt Fatah officials salaries etc ..rather than improving infrastructure then again, that is hardly Israel’s fault! If you refer to something else here, then what specifically?

    To pre-empt the usual retort, note that a territory can be simultaneously occupied and disputed.

    Well, that’s true. Of course in the case of these territories the legal definition although rarely used is actually disputed. As noted in (II) above the former nations whose land was occupied have since given up their claims to those lands. The Palestinians were subsequently offered control over almost all of those lands but rejected that generous Israeli peace offer. Which de facto and legally means those lands are Israels.

    1. That would be the Yasser Arafat who got the Nobel Peace Prize after signing the Oslo Accords, right?
    2. The man died in 2004; let him rest in peace ..

    I can assure you I have no interest in engaging in any necromancy that at all – let alone any that would revive the zombie corpse of that particular p.o.s. terrorist leader and erstwhile dictator. Yes, Arafat got the Nobel Peace Prize which was a disgrace really and especially so after he broke the 1990’s Oslo accords and it was conclusively revealed that Arafat had never been serious about making peace with Israel in the first place. The Nobel Committee should have stripped him of his Peace Prize as soon as he started the second “Intifada” (type) war.

    Oh & do you think the deaths of people like Falwell, Mussolini and Osama bin Laden mean we shouldn’t speak ill about them now? Arafat is little different – a ideological & religious extremist, dictator and terrorist combined. Arafat wasn’t a good or wise person in life, death does not confer retrospective sainthood on him nor alter historical reality.

    3. If party A refuses to actually make a final peace even on the most generous terms they could ever realistically wish for, it entails that party B likewise refuses to actually make a final peace even on the most generous terms they could ever realistically wish for.

    Er, no it doesn’t.

    If party B (Israel) has offered the most generous possible peace deal it could and party A (Palestinians) have rejected it (& failed to make any counter-offer of their own) then that shows party B – Israel – is serious about wanting peace whereas party A – Hamas & co – is not.

  14. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    I) Which fact?

    The one you skirt:
    “II) Well, its true that Israel gained these territories from its neighbours”.

    Yes. By force of arms, as I noted.

    Yes, Arafat got the Nobel Peace Prize which was a disgrace really and especially so after he broke the 1990’s Oslo accords and it was conclusively revealed that Arafat had never been serious about making peace with Israel in the first place.

    The Nobel was for willingness, explicitly contrary to your original claim.

    (Your thus concede your original claim is refuted)

    Er, no it doesn’t.

    You err, because it does.

    (Negotiation implies that symmetry; when that doesn’t exist, it’s not a negotiation, but merely a demand)

    If party B (Israel) has offered the most generous possible peace deal it could and party A (Palestinians) have rejected it (& failed to make any counter-offer of their own) then that shows party B – Israel – is serious about wanting peace whereas party A – Hamas & co – is not.

    Watching you flailing thus would be amusing, were it not so pathetic.

    (When Israel is willing to return the territories it has conquered, I might be amenable to believing it is serious about wanting peace)

  15. StevoR says

    @ ^ John Morales : Israel is not only staggeringly willing to return territories which it’s soldiers have captured (& its civilians made to bloom) at high price in its own people’s lives, blood and tears; Israel has already done so – the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, Southern Lebanon to Lebanon / Hezbollah and Gaza to, well, Hamas to name famous three cases.

    So are you now going to admit you got that wrong and Israelis more than willing to swap land for peace?

    Especially when you look at a globe and compare the size of little Israel with its much bigger Arab neighbours – a point I’ve raised before but which always goes unanswered.

    Also, just what have the Palestinians given up? Not even terrorism against Israel – until they do that and admit the Jewish state has a right to live how can they be considered serious?

    The Nobel was for willingness, explicitly contrary to your original claim. (Your thus concede your original claim is refuted)

    Er, what? No. Arafat was awarded the Nobel prize for making peace with Rabin back in 1993 – but when he did so he did so dishonestly with his fingers crossed as he always meant to destroy Israel and did not, in fact, ever want a real peace. Arafat’s PLO then resumed the war with the Second Intifada starting in Sept. 2000. So no, Arafat was not “willing”and teh Nobel Peace Prize council were duped and wrong to award it to him. Rabin OTOH, deserved his prize because he did indeed genuinely seek peace – and paid for it with his life. Unfortunately he also was duped by Arafat and in retrospect mistaken.

    Even Netanyahu was also fooled and mistaken to continue that peace process in which he like Rabin did the right thing whilst the Arabs did not and had no actual intention of doing. Plenty of evidence for this is noted in the non-fiction book
    ‘Preachers of Hate’ by Kenneth R. Timmerman, (Three Rivers Press, 2004.) specifically chapters 7 “Arafat’s Reign of Terror” & 8 pages 151 to 206. Among many other sources and places.

    StevoR : “I) Which fact?” The one you skirt:
    “II) Well, its true that Israel gained these territories from its neighbours”.
    Yes. By force of arms, as I noted.

    Except I didn’t skirt it at all and its not a fact as I went on to explain in # 15.

    Yes, Israel initially gained these from neighbouring enemies in the course of a war where those neighbouring Arab enemies sought to exterminate all of Israel. Those same enemies then subsequently abandoned their claims on those territories and the PLO rejected the chance it was given to take over those territories. All of which is important context which should not be skirted over by you – or anyone else.

  16. John Morales says

    StevoR,

    Yes, Israel initially gained these from neighbouring enemies in the course of a war where those neighbouring Arab enemies sought to exterminate all of Israel. Those same enemies then subsequently abandoned their claims on those territories and the PLO rejected the chance it was given to take over those territories. All of which is important context which should not be skirted over by you – or anyone else.

    You are the one who, when presented with the fact that those territories are occupied, retort that they are not occupied, but merely disputed — whilst simultaneously claiming that the disputers have abandoned their claim to them and rejected the opportunity to reacquire them.

    In passing:

    Especially when you look at a globe and compare the size of little Israel with its much bigger Arab neighbours – a point I’ve raised before but which always goes unanswered.

    You confuse size with might; amusing, since you refer to Israel in particular, the only State with nukes in the region, nevermind the best military equipment (others’) money can buy.

    (Well, that and its most enthusiastic enablers, such as the USA with its billions of dollars of military aid and its endless vetos in the UN)

    But keep on justifying the bully’s actions; it suits you.

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