I did not watch last night’s debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton that according to news reports was quite contentious. Philip Weiss looked closely at what Jake Tapper said was a ‘historic moment’ in American politics. For once a leading candidate deviated from the stance of uncritical support for whatever Israel does and instead balanced support with criticisms of its disproportionate response to attacks that had especially left Gaza devastated and caused an immense amount of suffering for the Palestinian people.
It was of course Sanders who voiced this critical support and who criticized Clinton for her failure to recognize that Palestinians had rights too and for her speech to the Israel lobby group AIPAC. He said that we cannot afford to continue to be one-sided.
Weiss’s report is a must-read and at the end he quotes Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace who said:
It was heartening to hear the beginning of a much needed conversation about Israel’s disproportionate use of force against Palestinians in Gaza during the Democratic debate tonight. Today showed that the movement for Palestinian rights is shifting the discourse at the highest political levels. However, there is still a long way to go before we see our political leaders take courageous steps not just to recognize the humanity of Palestinians but to take action to secure their rights.
There is no question that the nature of the discussion on the Middle East has changed in the last few years and for the better. If I had to pick a turning point I would say it was the publication in 2007 of the book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt and the firestorm it generated that broke open the discussion in mainstream politics and media.