Three Views of Bernie Sanders and the Palestine-Israel Conflict

The three articles below, Bernie Sanders essay in the New York Times, the letter from Sanders’ former staffers urging a peaceful resolution to the war, and Norman Finkelstein’s response to Sanders’ refusal of a ceasefire, are intended to provide needed context for the war. We do not agree with all the views and opinions expressed.

 

Bernie Sanders: Justice for the Palestinians and Security for Israel

A rose left on a post at the funeral of a husband and wife at the cemetery in Kibbutz Palmachin, Israel, on Oct. 29. The couple were killed in the Hamas attacks on Kibbutz Be’eri on Oct 7. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Times, November 22, 2023

There have been five wars in the last 15 years between Israel and Hamas. How do we end the current one and prevent a sixth from happening, sooner or later? How do we balance our desire to stop the fighting with the need to address the roots of the conflict? For 75 years, diplomats, well-intentioned Israelis and Palestinians and government leaders around the world have struggled to bring peace to this region. In that time an Egyptian president and an Israeli prime minister were assassinated by extremists for their efforts to end the violence.

And on and on it goes.

For those of us who want not only to bring this war to an end, but to avoid a future one, we must first be cleareyed about facts. On Oct. 7, Hamas, a terrorist organization, unleashed a barbaric attack against Israel, killing about 1,200 innocent men, women and children and taking more than 200 hostage. On a per-capita basis, if Israel had the same population as the United States, that attack would have been the equivalent of nearly 40,000 deaths, more than 10 times the fatalities that we suffered on 9/11.

Israel, in response, under the leadership of its right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under indictment for corruption and whose cabinet includes outright racists, unleashed what amounts to total war against the Palestinian people. In Gaza, over 1.6 million Palestinians were forced out of their homes. Food, water, medical supplies and fuel were cut off. The United Nations estimates that 45 percent of the housing units in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed. According to the Gaza health ministry, more than 12,000 Palestinians, about half of whom are children, have been killed and many more wounded. And the situation becomes more dire every day.

More

This is a humanitarian catastrophe that risks igniting a wider regional conflagration. We all want it to end as soon as possible. To make progress, however, we must grapple with the complexity of this situation that too many people on both sides want to wave away.

First, Hamas has made it clear, before and after Oct. 7, that its goal is perpetual warfare and the destruction of the state of Israel. Just last week a spokesman for Hamas told The New York Times: “I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders, and that the Arab world will stand with us.”

Second, Israel has done nothing in recent years to give hope for a peaceful settlement — maintaining the blockade of Gaza, deepening the daily humiliations of occupation in the West Bank, and largely ignoring the horrendous living conditions facing Palestinians.

 

Needless to say, I do not have all of the answers to this never-ending tragedy. But for those of us who believe in peace and justice, it is imperative that we do our best to provide Israelis and Palestinians with a thoughtful response that maps out a realistic path to addressing the reality we face today. Here are my thoughts as to the best way forward and how the United States can rally the world around a moral position that moves us toward peace in the region and justice for the oppressed Palestinian population.

To start, we must demand an immediate end to Israel’s indiscriminate bombing, which is causing an enormous number of civilian casualties and is in violation of international law. Israel is at war with Hamas, not innocent Palestinian men, women and children. Israel cannot bomb an entire neighborhood to take out one Hamas target. We don’t know if this campaign has been effective in degrading Hamas’s military capabilities. But we do know that a reported 70 percent of the casualties are women and children, and that 104 U.N. aid workers and 53 journalists have been killed. That’s not acceptable.

There must also be a significant, extended humanitarian pause so that badly needed aid — food, water, medicine and fuel — can get into Gaza and save lives. If Wednesday morning’s deal — in which 50 Israeli hostages are to be freed in exchange for a four-day pause in fighting — is honored, it is a promising first step that we can build upon, and hopefully work to extend the pause. Meanwhile, the United Nations must be given time to safely set up the distribution network needed to prevent thirst, starvation and disease, to build shelters and evacuate those who need critical care. This window will also allow for talks to free as many hostages as possible. This extended pause must not precede a resumption of indiscriminate bombing. Israel will continue to go after Hamas, but it must dramatically change its tactics to minimize civilian harm.

If long-suffering Palestinians are ever going to have a chance at self-determination and a decent standard of living, there must be no long-term Israeli re-occupation and blockade of Gaza. If Hamas is going to be removed from power, as it must be, and Palestinians given the opportunity for a better life, an Israeli occupation of Gaza would be absolutely counterproductive and would benefit Hamas. For the sake of regional peace and a brighter future for the Palestinian people, Gaza must have a chance to be free of Hamas. There can be no long-term Israeli occupation.

To achieve the political transformation that Gaza needs, new Palestinian leadership will be required as part of a wider political process. And for that transformation and peace process to take place, Israel must make certain political commitments that will allow for Palestinian leadership committed to peace to build support. They must guarantee displaced Palestinians the absolute right to return to their homes as Gaza rebuilds. People who have lived in poverty and despair for years cannot be made permanently homeless. Israel must also commit to end the killings of Palestinians in the West Bank and freeze settlements there as a first step toward permanently ending the occupation. Those steps will show that peace can deliver for the Palestinian people, hopefully giving the Palestinian Authority the legitimacy it needs to assume administrative control of Gaza, likely after an interim stabilization period under an international force.

Finally, if Palestinians are to have any hope for a decent future, there must be a commitment to broad peace talks to advance a two-state solution in the wake of this war. The United States, the international community and Israel’s neighbors must move aggressively toward that goal. This would include dramatically increased international support for the Palestinian people, including from wealthy Gulf States. It would also mean the promise of full recognition of Palestine pending the formation of a new democratically elected government committed to peace with Israel.

Let’s be clear: this is not going to happen on its own. Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party was explicitly formed on the premise that “between the Sea and the Jordan [River] there will only be Israeli sovereignty,” and the current coalition agreement reinforces that goal. This is not just ideology. The Israeli government has systematically pursued this goal. The last year saw record Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank, where more than 700,000 Israelis now live in areas that the United Nations and the United States agree are occupied territories. They have used state violence to back up this de facto annexation. Since Oct. 7, the United Nations reports that at least 208 Palestinians, including 53 children, have been killed by Israeli security forces and settlers. This cannot be allowed to continue.

Mr. Netanyahu has made clear where he stands on these critical issues. So should we. If asking nicely worked, we wouldn’t be in this position. The only way these necessary changes will happen is if the United States uses the substantial leverage we have with Israel. And we all know what that leverage is.

For many years, the United States has provided Israel substantial sums of money — with close to no strings attached. Currently, we provide $3.8 billion a year. President Biden has asked for $14.3 billion more on top of that sum and asked Congress to waive normal, already-limited oversight rules. The blank check approach must end. The United States must make clear that while we are friends of Israel, there are conditions to that friendship and that we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency. That includes an end to indiscriminate bombing; a significant pause to bombing so that massive humanitarian assistance can come into the region; the right of displaced Gazans to return to their homes; no long-term Israeli occupation of Gaza; an end to settler violence in the West Bank and a freeze on settlement expansion; and a commitment to broad peace talks for a two-state solution in the wake of the war.

Over the years, people of good will around the world, including Israelis, have tried to address this conflict in a way that brings justice for Palestinians and security for Israel. I, and some other members of Congress, have tried to do what we could. Obviously, we did not do enough. Now we must recommit to this effort. The stakes are just too high to give up.

Bernie Sanders is the senior senator from Vermont and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the longest-serving Independent member of Congress in history. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020.


 

“We Need You to Stand Up”: Bernie Sanders’ Former Staffers Call on Him to Back Cease-Fire in Palestine and Israel

Hundreds of former staffers of the democratic socialist senator have signed a letter urging him to back a peaceful resolution to the war in Palestine.

ELOISE GOLDSMITH, IN THESE TIMES, OCTOBER 24, 2023

Former staffers of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are calling on him to endorse a cease-fire and stop U.S. military aid to Israel. (PHOTO BY JENS KALAENE/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

More than 365 former campaign staffers for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have signed a letter urging the nation’s most famous democratic socialist to introduce a Senate version of the House resolution that calls for an immediate cease-fire and de-escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine. That resolution, backed by more than a dozen House progressives, has gainedsupport throughout the past week. The letter also asks that Sanders support lifting the blockade of Gaza and advocate for the United States to stop providing military funding to the Israeli government that helps further the occupation and violence.

“Throughout your career, you have spoken with moral clarity on the issues in Israel and Palestine,” the signees wrote to Sanders. “Today, we’re asking you to use your power, the respect you have across the United States and globe, to clearly and forcefully stand up against war, against occupation and for the dignity of human life.”

The signatories of the letter to Sanders, including In These Times’ executive director Alex Han, join a growing chorus of concerned former political staffers making similar demands of other powerful elected officials. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John Fetterman (D-Pa.) both received open letters from former campaign staff last week urging them to support a cease-fire. Fetterman and Warren have also recently been the targets of efforts by Jewish groups and anti-occupation activists calling for the same action to be taken.

Throughout your career, you have spoken with moral clarity on the issues in Israel and Palestine,” the signees wrote to Sanders. ​Today, we’re asking you to use your power, the respect you have across the United States and globe, to clearly and forcefully stand up against war, against occupation and for the dignity of human life.”

In These Times reached out to Sanders’ office for immediate comment shortly after the letter went public but has not yet received a response.

The former staffers wrote to Sanders with the hope that he can influence President Joe Biden’s administration to rethink its nearly unequivocal support of the Israeli government.

Former staffers of Bernie Sanders say he wields significant influence and sway with President Joe Biden’s administration. They’re demanding he use that influence to stop the violence in Israel and Palestine and curb continued military aid to Israel. (PHOTO BY ANNA MONEYMAKER/GETTY IMAGES)

President Biden clearly values your counsel, as is shown by the ways you’ve managed to shape the outcomes of his presidency,” the former staffers wrote. ​Cooler heads must prevail and prevent further suffering and bloodshed.”

The letter comes as a dire humanitarian crisis has worsened dramatically in Gaza — and appears to be steadily getting worse as an Israeli ground invasion into Gaza appears imminent. The enclave has been pummeled by Israeli forces for the past 18 days after a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7. Hamas killed roughly 1,400 people in Israel, and the vast majority of those who died were civilians, according to the United Nations, which cited official Israeli sources. At the same time, more than 200 hostages are being held captive. The latest available numbers show that the death toll in Gaza is nearing 6,000 people, including more than 2,000 children. ​The Israeli government is deliberately deepening the suffering of civilians in Gaza” by cutting off water, electricity and access to fuel, medicine and food, according to Human Rights Watch.

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Protestors have taken to the streets worldwide to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, decry the Israeli government’s actions and call for a cease-fire.

So far, Sanders has responded to the violence by criticizing the Israeli government’s targeting of civilians as a violation of international law and advocating for humanitarian aid for Gaza — but he has also voted with the rest of his Senate colleagues to reaffirm support for the Israeli government and military. 

On October 19, Sanders added his name to a resolution that pledged U.S. support in assisting Israel ​both during the immediate crisis and in the near future, including by accelerating delivery of defense articles and systems.” That same day, he blocked a bill spearheaded by Republican lawmakers that would have effectively stopped the U.S. from providing humanitarian aidto Gaza.

Former staffers recalled the ​moral clarity” Sanders provided on the campaign trail during his presidential runs, writing, ​We saw you bring the truth of the Palestinian reality under military occupation to the forefront in both the 2016 and 2020 elections, and in doing so, change public attitudes on these issues across the country.” During his 2020 Democratic primary campaign for president, Sanders called for a more radical foreign policy realignment than his peers. On the campaign trail, he called Jewish settlements on Israeli land illegal and criticized far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a reactionary racist.” In 2020, Sanders earned praise from many anti-occupation organizers and activists around his positions, and the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow — who have helped organize mass protests against the Israeli government’s assault on Gaza in recent weeks — even formally endorsed him for president in 2020.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders was popular with many anti-occupation activists and organizers and even received the endorsement of the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow. That endorsement earned headlines in major newspapers. (ELIAS NEWMAN/COURTESY OF IFNOTNOW)

But his actions over the past two weeks echo a stance he’s taken in the past. In 2021, Sanders signaled his support for an additional one billion dollars in aid to support the Israeli military’s Iron Dome antimissile system after securing a promise from Democratic leadership that the U.S. would send additional humanitarian aid to Gaza. Palestinian rights advocates criticized the move, calling it an insufficient fix for ending the causes of suffering in Gaza.

While he sometimes faces criticism for not going far enough, Sanders is still the Israeli government’s most consistent critic in the Senate. He has continuously opposed the unconditional flow of aid to Israel. In 2021, during a previous bombardment of Gaza, Sanders introduced legislation to block a $735 million arms sale. He also endorsed a cease-fire then: ​The United States should be urging an immediate cease-fire. We should also understand that, while Hamas firing rockets into Israeli communities is absolutely unacceptable, today’s conflict did not begin with those rockets.” Earlier this year, Sanders and congressional progressives sent a letter to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking that taxpayer money not be used to expand illegal Israeli settlements. The lawmakers also urged the administration to investigate whether aid has been used in violation of domestic law that regulates the use of U.S. weapons, citing concerns about escalating violence in the occupied West Bank.

In urging him to support a cease-fire, Sanders’ former staffers invoked his historical willingness to go against the status quo. ​You taught us to always speak the truth, and to be on the right side of history, even when it is lonely and especially when it is difficult.”

ELOISE GOLDSMITH is a freelance fact-checker and journalist. Her work appears in In These Times, Jacobin, and Strike Wave. She tweets @Eloise_Gold.


 

Norman Finkelstein Responds to Bernie Sanders Opposing Gaza Ceasefire

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, NOV 6, 2023

After seeing Senator Sanders’ appearance on CNN from the morning of November 5, Norman Finkelstein decided it was necessary to publish an open video reply to the Senator. The clip in question is shown in the video, followed by Norman’s response, which was recorded last night, the evening of November 5 2023.

The Sanders tweet referred to at 36:27.

(There is a brief echo during the first ten seconds of Norman’s section, which we hope viewers will disregard.)

alternate link for download/viewing (4K + volume normalized a bit)

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

My name is Norm Finkelstein. I heard Bernie Sanders’ statement this evening opposing the ceasefire. I had planned to spend this evening reading, as I’ve fallen dreadfully behind in my reading and unless I keep reading, I can’t bring anything fresh and important to what’s happening now. I was so furious at that remark of Bernie’s, when he said he opposed the ceasefire and my innards started to writhe and I decided I had to respond. Now this is wholly unrehearsed. There are no special effects — make my remarks more effective. I’m just speaking it, as my words go from my brain out into the cyberspace. Now, Bernie said in this interview that he opposed the ceasefire. And his grounds for opposing the ceasefire were that Hamas wanted to destroy Israel, and therefore Hamas has to be destroyed. So let’s look at the facts. I’m not going to go all the way back into history. I’m going to just start with 2006.

In 2006 there was an election in the West Bank in Gaza, parliamentary elections. Those elections were urged on the Palestinian people by the US administration was that now forgotten moment in the Bush administration called “democracy promotion.” And part of this package called “democracy promotion” was the Palestinians were supposed to participate in those wonderful democratic experiences. And Hamas was urged to participate in those elections, and it reversed itself. Hitherto, it opposed participating in any elections in the occupied territories, because those elections were a consequence of the Oslo Accord. And since Hamas opposed the Oslo Accord, it opposed participating in the elections. But it reversed itself. It ran in a civilian political party. And, much to the surprise of Hamas and everybody else, it won the election. Those were, according to former US President Jimmy Carter, “completely fair and honest elections,” and Hamas won. What did the US and Israel do? It immediately imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza, which brought economic life in Gaza to a standstill. Now that’s not all it did, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.

First of all, remind listeners, what is Gaza? It’s 25 miles long, it’s five miles wide, it’s a tiny parcel of land. It’s among the most densely populated places on God’s earth. Half of the population of Gaza consists of children, to which I’ll return. 70% of Gaza consists of refugees from the 1948 war, that is, Palestinians who were expelled from the area that became Israel and ended up in Gaza and have remained refugees for 75 years henceforth, living in refugee camps like Jabalia camp, which I’ll also return in a moment. For about 20 years — two years shy of 20 years.  Nobody can go in, nobody can go out. Unemployment in Gaza is about 50% among the population in general, 60% among the youth. It reportedly has the highest rate of unemployment of any area in the world. It suffers from what humanitarian organizations call “extreme food insecurity.” Nobody can go in, nobody can go out. What is Gaza? Well, one of Israel’s senior officials, or in layperson’s terms, certified lunatics, named Giora Eiland, E-I-L-A-N-D for those who want to look it up. In 2006, Giaora Eiland, who still is, incidentally, in the inner circle of Benjamin Netanyahu right now as I speak. He described Gaza as, quote, not my words, as “a huge concentration camp.” That’s Gaza.

Euphemistically, even Bernie who’s ever so politically correct, will acknowledge that, well maybe, he says, it can be described as an open-air prison. Open-air prison, the euphemism, or Giora Eiland “a huge concentration camp.” Or maybe Baruch Kimmerling, the former senior sociologist at Hebrew University, quote, “the largest concentration camp ever to exist.”

Now, as a matter of law. Richard Goldstone, who authored the famous or infamous, whichever you prefer, Goldstone Report after Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, he said that the blockade of Gaza likely likely qualifies or rises to a crime against humanity. That’s a crime against humanity that’s endured for two decades. Not a momentary crime against humanity, say dropping a bomb on a hospital or dropping a 2,000-pound bomb on a densely populated refugee camp. Not a momentary crime against humanity, but a crime against humanity that’s endured for nearly two decades.

But bear in mind, it’s Hamas that must be defeated because it wants to destroy Israel, not Israel that must be destroyed, because it wants to incarcerate an entire population, half of whom are children, in a concentration camp, which constitutes a crime against humanity. No, Israel doesn’t have to be destroyed – only Hamas has to be destroyed.

Well, first of all, is it true? I’m asking you, Bernie, I don’t know if you know the facts, and I will grant you that, focused as you are on domestic issues, I will grant, you probably don’t know the facts and you’re entitled not to know them. You know, Build Back Better, better than me. And that was your priority. That’s always been your priority. And I have to respect that. I saw your speech with the United Auto Workers during the strike, and as much as I’ve soured on you, I have to acknowledge it was a great speech. I talked to Dr. Cornel West shortly after that speech, and I said it was really a brilliant speech. And he said to me, well, Bernie was in his element. Workers’ strikes, workers’ rights, unions, it’s Bernie’s element.

 Fine, and I’ll grant that in your element, you’re good — actually you’re as good as they get. But, and here I’m going to quote Clare Daly from the European Union, when Ursula von der Leyen, when she decided, without any mandate, to go over and embrace Israel and say, “we all stand by Israel,” Clare Daly, the Irish representative in the European Union, she said, quote, — referring to von der Leyen — she said, quote, “if you have nothing constructive to say, shut up.”

So, here are the facts. When Hamas was elected, it repeatedly sent out peace feelers to try and resolve the conflict with Israel. It presented on its own, or as speaking for itself, the terms of the international consensus for resolving a conflict, namely two states on the June 1967 border. Now it’s true, because I have no quarrel with facts. I’ve always been of the opinion that there’s no contradiction between truth and the struggle for justice. And if there were a contradiction between the two, it would probably cause me a moral crisis, but at the end of the day, I would come out on the side of truth.

Hamas, yes, it’s true. There were areas such as its demand for the full implementation of the right of the return of Palestinian refugees to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948. I’m saying, even though that is the law, that is the law, I recognize that as part of a settlement that particular aspect of international law would probably have to be negotiated. I’m rendering a, as it were, third-party judgment from afar. But there is no question that Hamas was attempting to reach some sort of settlement with Israel. The record is ample in that regard. The documentation irrefutable and impeachable.

What was the Israeli reaction? Well, time won’t allow me to go through the entire record. But I will briefly go through it. I have to go through it, because my innards writhe at the despicable thing you said in the interview today – whether it was moral idiocy, whether it was exemplary of being a moral monster, or whether it was cynical opportunism because you’re too much of a coward to break ranks with President Biden. I don’t know which it is, but here’s the record. The record can be summarized in a phrase that became very popular in the Israeli administration. It’s called “mowing the lawn.” It happens that this “lawn” called Gaza, 1,100,000 blades of grass in that lawn are children.

So, whenever that satanic government, and I choose my words carefully, and with premeditation, refers to mowing the lawn, we should bear in mind that 1,100,000 blades of grass in that lawn are children. But, Bernie Sanders the senator from Vermont he says, Israel must destroy Hamas because Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Yes, Bernie, you’re so right. You are so right, Bernie. Until October 7th, Israel didn’t want to destroy Gaza. It just wanted to mow the law. You’re so right, Bernie. I am so appreciative of your moral niceties and nuances. Hamas must be destroyed because it wants to destroy Israel. But Israel, does it have to be destroyed? No, because Israel doesn’t want to destroy Gaza, or at least until October 7th. It just wants to mow the lawn. That’s your moral calculus, Bernie. Your sick, ill, morbid moral calculus. So, Hamas, that terrible, evil organization, it wants to destroy Israel, and that’s why Hamas has to be destroyed.

So in June 2008 there was a ceasefire arranged between Israel and Hamas. That evil Hamas, oh my goodness gracious, as Cornel Dr. West would say, my goodness gracious, that evil perfidious Hamas, it negotiated a ceasefire. And then what happened? The ceasefire held, it held in June, it held in July, it held in August, it held in September, it held in October, and it held the first four days in November. And then November 4th came along. When those people whose memories are short, that was election day. when everybody’s attention was riveted on the presidential election and the first black president being elected in our country’s history. And Israel used that moment — when all the cameras were diverted from it — it used that moment to attack Hamas in Gaza and broke the ceasefire. Not evil, perfidious Hamas, but beautiful, wonderful Israel.

Now that’s not my word. Go back and read what Amnesty International said. In fact, even the official Israeli publications which I cite in my book, state the ceasefire held until Israel broke it. And then Israel proceeded to do what it does best. It proceeded to commit a high-tech massacre in Gaza, killed about 1,400 people. Of those 1,400, 350 were children. It systematically devastated the infrastructure of Gaza, and it was guilty of, according to the Goldstone Report, multiple war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

Now, here’s a point for you, Bernie – I barely can say that name anymore without being filled with contempt and disgust. I worked very hard in that 2016 campaign and I worked very hard on that 2020 campaign and I was by a wide margin among the oldest people who was going in advance out of state to canvas for you. And now it’s a bitter memory when I hear your statements. So here’s a fact for you Bernie: As I mentioned to you, about 1,400 people were killed in Gaza. The estimates are four-fifths were civilians, one-fifth or 20% were combatants. If you look at what happened on October 7th, the numbers are roughly the same. About 1,400 civilians were killed after the prison breakout or concentration camp breakout in Gaza. The numbers I’ve seen are about 400 were combatants among the Israelis killed. killed, but roughly speaking, the numbers balance out.

So here’s my question to you, Bernie, and I’m dead serious. This ain’t a joke. I’m not talking about scoring debating points. It’s about people, to quote the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance song. It’s really the partisan song, but the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance song. And one lyric goes, “‘T’was a people amidst the crashing fires of hell.” That’s the people of Gaza now, Bernie. T’was a people, or now ‘tis a people, amidst the crashing fires of hell. And Bernie Sanders is on record saying it should continue.

So here’s the question, Bernie. You say that because of what Hamas did on October 7th, they proved that they can’t be lived with and they have to be destroyed. Now, if that be the case, and if I’ve accurately rendered the historical record, as I’m very confident that I have, then, if the numbers are roughly the same, and it’s undisputed that Israel broke the ceasefire, why don’t you conclude on the basis of just Operation Cast Lead, just in that one operation, that one “mowing of the lawn,” why don’t you conclude that Israel must be destroyed? You came to the realization after October 7th that Hamas had to be destroyed. So, logically, if roughly the same numbers of people were killed, then Israel has to be destroyed.

But you’re going to say, no, no, no, no, you’re going to shake your head. I already know every one of your facial gestures. I listened to you in 2016 and 2020 every night, every debate listen to you again and again. You gonna say no, no, no, you’re gonna shake your head, it’s different Because Hamas wants to destroy Israel Israel doesn’t want to destroy God no, you’re right Bernie up until October 7th You were right. Israel didn’t want to destroy Gaza, it just wanted to leave the 2.3 million people, half of whom are children, immured in the concentration camp to languish and die. You’re right Bernie, it’s different. Hamas wants to destroy Israel. But all Israel wants to do, I mean, it’s not really a big deal. Let’s be for real. All Israel wanted to do was immure 2,300,000 people in a concentration camp and leave them there to die. So that’s, you know, there’s Bernie’s moral subtlety. You know how philosophers love nuance. They love complexity. They love nicety. Evil Hamas, it wants to destroy Israel, whereas Israel, all it wants to do is lock 2.3 million people in a concentration camp for life.

If you go to Operation Pillar of Defense, it happened, and I don’t have time to go through the details now, it happened that after Operation Cast Lead, there was a slight relaxing of the brutal blockade of Gaza. And it enabled, it was probably just a temporary blip, that’s what Sara Roy has written, the Harvard economist. And of course I defer to her judgment. She’s the world’s leading authority in Gaza’s economy. She said it was probably just a temporary blip, but the fact is the Gaza economy did show some signs of recovery. And there was also money starting to pour in from Qatar. The head of state of Turkey, Erdoğan, was planning on a visit to Gaza. And this annoyed the heck out of Israel because Gaza was not supposed to prosper, again, relatively speaking when I speak of prosperity. It wasn’t supposed to prosper.

So what did it do? The record is clear. It assassinated a senior Hamas official. It happened that this senior Hamas official named Jabari, he was the main contact with the Israeli government. He was the one responsible for negotiating the ceasefires with Israel. And at the moment he was assassinated he was in the midst of negotiating a longterm ceasefire.  You hear that Bernie? Those evil, perfidious, devilish, Hamas leaders. They were so perfidious that they were planning to negotiate a longterm ceasefire with Israel. So what did Israel do? They killed him, and then began Operation Pillar of Defense.

And then in 2014, it’s time to “mow the lawn” again. Without going into the details, by the end, Israel killed — not 1,400 Palestinians as Israelis were killed on October 7th — they killed 2,200 Palestinians, of whom 550 were children. They demolished 18,000 homes. Peter Moore, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, whose job is to tour war zones. That’s his resume, his CV, to tour war zones. After he toured Gaza, he said never in his professional life had he seen destruction of the magnitude that he witnessed in Gaza.

But it’s Hamas that has to be destroyed because it doesn’t, it wants to destroy Israel. It doesn’t recognize Israel. Hamas is the problem. Hamas. Let’s not talk about destroying the State of Israel. That’s sacrosanct. That’s not even a conceivable concept. But destroying Hamas, because they’re evil, they’re evil incarnate, they’re so evil that they negotiate ceasefires, they stand by ceasefires, they attempt to restore the devastated economy in Gaza, that’s pristine, distilled, evil incarnate.

And then comes October 7th. I’ve spoken about it at length to the point of tedium, so I’m not going to repeat myself in this response to you, Bernie. But I have to say, with all due respect, the things you’ve been saying since October 7th, you’re positively ill. Now I know you’re thinking, well, I’ve heard some of the things you said, and I think they’re ill. Fair enough.

 However, we can disagree on that, and we can disagree forcefully on that, but when you say you oppose a ceasefire, you’ve crossed a red line. You’ve become a moral monster. I’m going to say that again. You’ve become a moral monster. I read yesterday your tweet. Now you’ll forgive me for not getting it verbatim correctly, but you said, not me, you said Israel is indiscriminately bombing hospitals, bombing schools, killing civilians. You said that, and I’ll ask the people who are recording this video to post it, right as I recite these remarks, which I acknowledge are a paraphrase of what you said yesterday.

https://twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1720845234135765305

Now, when you oppose a ceasefire at this point, you are in effect, And in fact — you are in effect, and in fact, giving Israel carte blanche to continue to indiscriminately target the civilian infrastructure and the civilian population of Gaza, 1 million of whom, or 1,100,000 of whom, are children. You have become a moral monster. And don’t say, of course I oppose that. Of course you oppose that. And you think Israel will stop doing that because Bernie Sanders tells them to? You think all of a sudden now they’re going to cease targeting, hospitals with the plural, hospitals, do you think they’re going to cease targeting ambulances? Do you think they’re going to cease targeting civilian dwellings? The housing, the homes of these people, 70% of whom and their descendants already lost their homes in 1948 and now lost them again. The 50% who are children no longer have a roof over their head. The little toys that they had, the family pictures that they kept, everything now in rubble. And buried beneath the rubble, there are still thousands of children, and you just gave the green light to continue the destruction of Gaza. T’was a people amidst the crashing fires of hell, and now ‘tis a people amidst the crashing fires of hell with the stamp of approval from Bernie Sanders. What a pitiful shame.

Thank you.


Contact Bernie Sanders:
202-224-5141 (Senate Office)
Contact Form: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/contact-form/
#ceasefirenow #stoptheblockade


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