(December 23, 2019 / JNS) Of Bernie Sanders, it has been said that he is “the most popular Jew in Gaza since Moses.”
One reason is probably his thinking on the two-state solution of which he believes that “Israel and the Palestinians can, and should, peacefully coexist, and that the Palestinians should have a country of their own.” That “solution” must include:
“compromises from both sides to achieve a fair and lasting peace in the region. The Palestinians must fulfill their responsibilities to end terrorism against Israel and recognize Israel’s right to exist. In return, the Israelis must end their policy of targeted killings, prevent further Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes, businesses and infrastructure.”
Of course, right there, he falls into the trap that “solution” promotes: “compromises.”
The Arabs-termed-Palestinians were offered a state in 1937 and 1947, but refused because in accepting that offer—once by British and once by the United Nations—the Jewish people would also gain a state, and that could not be tolerated.
They lost a chance for statehood when they were occupied by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1948 and annexed in 1950, although to be fair, their national will was expressed on July 20, 1951 when the Mufti-inspired assassination of King Abdullah I occurred on the Temple Mount. A start towards a state was the Menachem Begin Autonomy Plan of 1977, though that, too, was rejected.
By the way, Mehdi Hasan has termed that as “cling[ing] to the fantasy of a two-state solution, which has been dead and buried for years.”
What, then, is driving presidential candidate Bernie Sanders?
He believes that both Israel and a future Palestine have the right to exist, stating:
“ … the bottom line is that Israel must have the right to exist in peace and security, just as the Palestinians must have the right to a homeland in which they and they alone control their political system and their economy.”
Therefore, it should have been no surprise that in the recent California debate, he declared, “U.S. foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well.” Perhaps the ferocity of his tone may have increased, but his is an old message.
Unfortunately, he was not queried as to how he would actually achieve being “pro-Palestinian,” and what policies he would promote in that direction. And so, we are left to wonder: What would a “pro-Palestinian” orientation be? And moreover, what “compromises” should be undertaken by Palestinians?
In fact, it’s about time that all pro-Palestine proponents—whether human-rights activists, Diaspora Palestine propagandists, officials of the European Union, diplomats and NGO machines—ask themselves if the Palestine National Authority, founded in 1993, has fulfilled its goals, responsibilities and obligations as regards the Arab population living in its territory. As my friend Uri Pilichowski tweeted, where are the necessary reforms that need to take place in Palestinian communities? Why are so very few talking about the corruption that exists in the Palestinian Authority, lack of democracy, elections, freedom of expression, women’s rights and cultural freedom? And not to mention exploiting foreign assistance funds to fund terrorism.
To improve those concerns is being pro-Palestinian, and those need to be accomplished before moving on to the next stage of statehood.
A sincere and honest concern for individuals would probably be a better way of building peace. This would contribute to a more balanced policy outlook on the Arab-Israel conflict (much more the Arab-conflict-with-Israel) from Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, or the more radical wing of the Democratic Party for that matter.
On the other side of the political divide, we have an upbeat, pro-Israel president, a pro-Israel Secretary of State and other senior administration officials, and that reality leads to the inevitable question that need be directed to the American Jewish community: If a President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had adopted and furthered similar actions and decisions to those President Donald Trump has taken, would you then also be as vociferously negative to them?
In other words, what makes the difference for America Diaspora Jews? That the president is pro-Israel or is a Democrat? What is the defining element for them? Let us recall what was the result of Jews voting blindly for FDR as Rafael Medoff’s new book informs us.
The raising by Trump’s critics of a false “dual-loyalty” charge is unacceptable as the promoting of energized pro-Israel policies, even a pro-Judea and Samaria agenda, is supported by many more millions of Christians in the United States than by Jews. Are these non-Jews also a target of that anti-Semitic accusation?
Of course, one could argue, as Sanders does, that to be pro-Israel is to reduce its administrative territorial control over Judea and Samaria. But reducing Israel’s geographical area has not proven to be a good move or effective, especially vis-à-vis the entity known as the Palestinian Authority. They are still a terrorist entity, thinking and acting like one.
Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders is throwing sand in the eyes of his supporters, and is trying to spread that blinding instrument to other groups and sectors. To that end, we need to protect our instruments of vision.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israel journalist and political commentator.
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