Could Bernie Sanders' position on Israel reshape US discourse on Palestine?

Published April 17th, 2016 - 04:28 GMT
Bernie Sanders - the most successful Jewish candidate in US presidential primary history - this week rewrote the classic stump speech on US policy regarding Israel by introducing an argument into mainstream politics that has long been internal to liberals. How can Jews balance Zionist ideals with human rights? (Self-described 'liberal Zionist' Sanders supports a two-state solution.)
 
It's about time the topic was tabled on a national level, so say a growing number of secular Americans, young voters, and minorities - the changing face of the Democratic party. Meanwhile, Republicans remain loudly pro-Israel, spurred on by evangelical and neoconservative factions inside the party. Feel that? The winds of change be blowing.
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Clinton and Sanders debate over Israel

Asked during last week's heated Democratic presidential debate if he thought Israel’s 2014 attacks on Gaza, which killed 1,500 civilians and wounded 10,000, were disproportionate, Sanders said he believed they were. Clinton answered, “I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat,” referring to Israel.

Clinton and Sanders debate over Israel

Sanders accused her of evading the answer, adding, "Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States [recognizes] the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people."

bibi and abbas handshake

Clinton says she defended Palestinians in private political negotiations. “I'm the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel...I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.”

Jews against occupation

Liberal Zionists like Sanders grapple with reconciling Zionist ideals with human rights. The Gaza war and expanding West Bank settlements have inflamed US debate. What's a loyal Jew to do? Sanders said, "If we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time."

Clinton at AIPAC

Sanders asserts that the US must publicly acknowledge Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians, and hold right-wing Israeli policies championed by Netanyahu accountable. He argues that Clinton fails to emphasize these realities, most recently in her recent speech to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which Sanders declined to attend.

Palestinian rights

Sanders soundbites are revising his party's stated policy regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. President Obama has been known to go off script, publicly criticizing Netanyahu on settlement growth and opposition to the Iran deal. Bernie's quips are going further, inciting his supporters to take a more active role in backing Palestinian rights.

sanders on Palestinian rights

Liberals and Jews in the US have long been divided over Palestine. Now it's becoming a partisan topic, with unflagging US support of Israel emerging as a GOP platform. BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith tweeted that Sanders' advocacy for Palestine "is opening a lot of space for a generation of Democratic politicians, and maybe for Clinton, re Israel."

Hillary Clinton kisses Suha Arafat

Clinton found that, in US politics, aligning herself with Palestine was not a winning strategy. As First Lady In 1998, her husband’s administration renounced the then-First Lady's support for a Palestinian state. In 1999, the GOP attacked her warm greeting of Mrs. Yasser Arafat, who accused Israel of using poison gas against Palestinian children.

Hard Choices

Clinton launched her 2016 presidential bid with the 2014 release of her book "Hard Choices" which recounts her experiences as US Secretary of State. In it she describes Obama's push to halt Israeli settlements as “unprecedented,” a self-aggrandizing assessment of what would turn out to be an ineffectual "freeze" on land grabs, a false victory.

Sanders supporters

A 2015 Pew poll found that Republicans overwhelmingly hold favorable opinions of Netanyahu, while Democrats view him negatively by a margin of two to one. This reflects a shift in the Democratic population, which is attracting minorities and secular youth who tend to distrust nationalism, military force and conservative religion; Israel hallmarks.

US support for Palestine

A 2016 Gallup poll on Israel-Palestine found 58% of Democrats support a Palestinian state, compared with 26% of Republicans. At the same time, increasingly important Democratic constituencies such as black and Latino voters have less support for Israel than do other segments of the US population. Liberal Zionism is no longer a political liability.

US ‘millennials' are shaking up conventional views on Mideast politics and rejecting America's continued support of Israel. Sanders pro-Palestine message in the Brooklyn debate hit a nerve with Gen Y. Social media app Yik Yak reported they scored Clinton 4.6%, her lowest approval rate to date, while giving Sanders his highest ever, 56.9%.

US ‘millennials' are shaking up conventional views on Mideast politics and rejecting America's continued support of Israel. Sanders pro-Palestine message in the Brooklyn debate hit a nerve with Gen Y. Social media app Yik Yak reported they scored Clinton 4.6%, her lowest approval rate to date, while giving Sanders his highest ever, 56.9%.

Bernie Sanders

A 2013 Pew survey found 70% of US Jews ages of 18-29 support a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one. Another 25% believe that the US is too supportive of Israel. Young Jews like Not Now organizer Ethan Miller explain their Sanders support as, "Bernie reminds me of my grandfather and my Jewish friends' grandfathers." Listen to your 'zeyde"!

Clinton and Sanders debate over Israel
Clinton and Sanders debate over Israel
bibi and abbas handshake
Jews against occupation
Clinton at AIPAC
Palestinian rights
sanders on Palestinian rights
Hillary Clinton kisses Suha Arafat
Hard Choices
Sanders supporters
US support for Palestine
US ‘millennials' are shaking up conventional views on Mideast politics and rejecting America's continued support of Israel. Sanders pro-Palestine message in the Brooklyn debate hit a nerve with Gen Y. Social media app Yik Yak reported they scored Clinton 4.6%, her lowest approval rate to date, while giving Sanders his highest ever, 56.9%.
Bernie Sanders
Clinton and Sanders debate over Israel
Asked during last week's heated Democratic presidential debate if he thought Israel’s 2014 attacks on Gaza, which killed 1,500 civilians and wounded 10,000, were disproportionate, Sanders said he believed they were. Clinton answered, “I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat,” referring to Israel.
Clinton and Sanders debate over Israel
Sanders accused her of evading the answer, adding, "Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States [recognizes] the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people."
bibi and abbas handshake
Clinton says she defended Palestinians in private political negotiations. “I'm the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel...I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.”
Jews against occupation
Liberal Zionists like Sanders grapple with reconciling Zionist ideals with human rights. The Gaza war and expanding West Bank settlements have inflamed US debate. What's a loyal Jew to do? Sanders said, "If we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time."
Clinton at AIPAC
Sanders asserts that the US must publicly acknowledge Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians, and hold right-wing Israeli policies championed by Netanyahu accountable. He argues that Clinton fails to emphasize these realities, most recently in her recent speech to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which Sanders declined to attend.
Palestinian rights
Sanders soundbites are revising his party's stated policy regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. President Obama has been known to go off script, publicly criticizing Netanyahu on settlement growth and opposition to the Iran deal. Bernie's quips are going further, inciting his supporters to take a more active role in backing Palestinian rights.
sanders on Palestinian rights
Liberals and Jews in the US have long been divided over Palestine. Now it's becoming a partisan topic, with unflagging US support of Israel emerging as a GOP platform. BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith tweeted that Sanders' advocacy for Palestine "is opening a lot of space for a generation of Democratic politicians, and maybe for Clinton, re Israel."
Hillary Clinton kisses Suha Arafat
Clinton found that, in US politics, aligning herself with Palestine was not a winning strategy. As First Lady In 1998, her husband’s administration renounced the then-First Lady's support for a Palestinian state. In 1999, the GOP attacked her warm greeting of Mrs. Yasser Arafat, who accused Israel of using poison gas against Palestinian children.
Hard Choices
Clinton launched her 2016 presidential bid with the 2014 release of her book "Hard Choices" which recounts her experiences as US Secretary of State. In it she describes Obama's push to halt Israeli settlements as “unprecedented,” a self-aggrandizing assessment of what would turn out to be an ineffectual "freeze" on land grabs, a false victory.
Sanders supporters
A 2015 Pew poll found that Republicans overwhelmingly hold favorable opinions of Netanyahu, while Democrats view him negatively by a margin of two to one. This reflects a shift in the Democratic population, which is attracting minorities and secular youth who tend to distrust nationalism, military force and conservative religion; Israel hallmarks.
US support for Palestine
A 2016 Gallup poll on Israel-Palestine found 58% of Democrats support a Palestinian state, compared with 26% of Republicans. At the same time, increasingly important Democratic constituencies such as black and Latino voters have less support for Israel than do other segments of the US population. Liberal Zionism is no longer a political liability.
US ‘millennials' are shaking up conventional views on Mideast politics and rejecting America's continued support of Israel. Sanders pro-Palestine message in the Brooklyn debate hit a nerve with Gen Y. Social media app Yik Yak reported they scored Clinton 4.6%, her lowest approval rate to date, while giving Sanders his highest ever, 56.9%.
US ‘millennials' are shaking up conventional views on Mideast politics and rejecting America's continued support of Israel. Sanders pro-Palestine message in the Brooklyn debate hit a nerve with Gen Y. Social media app Yik Yak reported they scored Clinton 4.6%, her lowest approval rate to date, while giving Sanders his highest ever, 56.9%.
Bernie Sanders
A 2013 Pew survey found 70% of US Jews ages of 18-29 support a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one. Another 25% believe that the US is too supportive of Israel. Young Jews like Not Now organizer Ethan Miller explain their Sanders support as, "Bernie reminds me of my grandfather and my Jewish friends' grandfathers." Listen to your 'zeyde"!