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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Norman Finkelstein Responds to Bernie Sanders Opposing Gaza Ceasefire

A Response to Bernie Sanders


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.

More

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


A Statement by Norman Finkelstein: I am determined not to monetize my social media. However, I am dependent on a three-person technical crew. Your contributions to support their vital work will be greatly appreciated. All proceeds will go to the technical crew.

Subscribe to Norman Finkelstein’s Official Substack

Hundreds of paid subscribers
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Bernie Sanders Statement on Continuing Violence in Israel and Gaza

October 11, 2023

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday issued the following statement on the continuing violence in Israel and Gaza following Hamas’ horrific attack on Saturday:

Hamas’ terrorist assault on Israel will have horrific short- and long-term consequences.

As a result of this attack, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians – including many women and children – have been killed and injured. That toll will rise. The gunning down of young Israelis at a music festival is an image the world will not soon forget.

Longer term, this attack is a major setback for any hope of peace and reconciliation in the region – and justice for the Palestinian people. For years, people of good will throughout the world, including some brave Israelis, have struggled against the blockade of Gaza, the daily humiliations of occupation in the West Bank, and the horrendous living conditions faced by so many Palestinians. For many, it is no secret that Gaza has been an open-air prison, with millions of people struggling to secure basic necessities. Hamas’ terrorism will make it much more difficult to address that tragic reality and will embolden extremists on both sides, continuing the cycle of violence.

Right now, the international community must focus on reducing humanitarian suffering and protecting innocent people on both sides of this conflict. The targeting of civilians is a war crime, no matter who does it. Israel’s blanket denial of food, water, and other necessities to Gaza is a serious violation of international law and will do nothing but harm innocent civilians. The United States has rightly offered solidarity and support to Israel in responding to Hamas’ attack. But we must also insist on restraint from Israeli forces attacking Gaza and work to secure UN humanitarian access. Let us not forget that half of the two million people in Gaza are children. Children and innocent people do not deserve to be punished for the acts of Hamas.
 

Bernie Sanders’ Criticism Of Israel Is Radical. And He’s Taking It Mainstream

Aiden Pink, Information Clearing House, June 13, 2018

Not many in the media are noticing, which is understandable given the burden of keeping up with Donald Trump, but in the shadow of Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, Bernie Sanders is dramatically challenging Beltway discourse on Israel.

In 2020, when Sanders likely runs for president, and journalists begin paying attention, they’re going to be shocked. The Israeli government and the American Jewish establishment will be scared out of their minds.

Last month, Sanders crossed one of the red lines demarcating politically acceptable Washington discourse about Israel. He organized the first letter written by multiple senators criticizing Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Then, last week, he raced past that line again with a video that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from an American senator.

To understand how radical Sanders’ video is, it’s worth remembering how liberal Democrats like Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton talked about Israel and the Palestinians as recently as two years ago. While Obama, Kerry and Clinton did sometimes criticize Israeli policy, they generally did so in the language of Israeli self-interest, not of Palestinian human rights. Israeli settlement policy was bad for Israel, they argued, because it threatened Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state.

On Gaza, the Obama administration never publicly urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, even as former Israeli security chiefs did. And Obama effectively endorsed Israel’s position that Palestinians should not be allowed to hold elections because Hamas might win. (This despite the fact that Israeli parties that oppose the two state solution — among them, Likud — run in Israeli elections all the time).

When Gaza came up in a 2016 Democratic primary debate, Clinton placed the blame for its people’s suffering exclusively on Hamas. “Remember,” she declared, “Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people. And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.” Her comments, which are demonstrably false, could easily have come from Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

Contrast that with the video Sanders released last week. (It’s the third he’s released on Gaza since April). For starters, it consists entirely of interviews with Palestinians in Gaza. That alone is extraordinary. Palestinians in Gaza are almost never included in the debates on American TV. Palestinians are rarely invited to hold public briefings on Capitol Hill, and when they are, it’s hugely controversial.

In his video, Sanders lets Palestinians from Gaza speak for themselves. And they say things American politicians simply don’t say. Again and again, the speakers, who are not politicians but rather academics, students and journalists, call Gaza a “prison.” They talk about having only four hours of electricity per day. In one comic-tragic moment, the lights go on behind a young woman while she is speaking. She notes that the power has just returned after being off for 16 hours. Then it flickers off again.

A professor of political science notes that his family hasn’t left Gaza in more than twenty years. A young man says his “biggest dream is to travel from Gaza for one time in my life. To see how life is from outside the walls of the prison.” He later comments that many of his friends have contemplated suicide: “They cannot continue to live without any types of hope.” A young woman says, “I want the situation to change to where I feel like an equal human being to Israelis.”

By allowing ordinary Palestinians to describe their plight, Sanders’ video allows Americans to see the Great Return March as the product not of blind hatred of Israel but of a quintessentially human desire for a better life. “This protest,” says the professor, “was designed and orchestrated by young, independent and frustrated Palestinians who were sick, tired and exhausted of their living conditions.”

And by allowing ordinary Palestinians to speak for themselves, the video shows how dehumanizing it is to describe the people protesting Israel’s blockade as mere pawns of, or “human shields” for, Hamas. Brilliantly, Sanders’ video shows clips of American pundits blaming Hamas for the protests, and then lets Palestinians in Gaza do something they can rarely do on American television: respond.

“I’m talking with you. I’m not Hamas,” exclaims one man.

“It’s a big lie to say that Hamas is pushing Palestinian children and Palestinian women in the front line,” says the Palestinian professor.

“The majority of the people are not following Hamas,” insists the young man. “They are just participating peacefully because they just want to be free.”

Criticizing Hamas is both legitimate and necessary. But Sanders’ video shows how the media’s obsession with Hamas obscures the human causes of Palestinian protest, and the human consequences of Israel’s brutal response.

“The right question to ask is not whether there is someone asking them to go to the fence,” argues a young woman. “The right question is what is driving these people to walk up to the fence. What kinds of conditions would drive someone to risk their lives knowing that there are snipers who are willing to shoot them?”

And when you look at her, you imagine being that desperate yourself.

For decades, the conventional wisdom has held that a video like Sanders’, which focuses without equivocation or apology on Palestinian human rights, is political suicide. But that conventional wisdom has rarely been tested. Democratic politicians and foreign policy experts are so accustomed to self-censorship that AIPAC and its allies rarely have to make an example of them. They make an example of themselves.

Sanders is betting that the political ground has shifted. In a sense, he’s doing in the Democratic Party what Trump has done inside the GOP. For years, polls showed that ordinary Republicans were moving away from their party’s elite on trade and immigration. But until Trump, no Republican presidential frontrunner had been sufficiently unconventional and sufficiently unafraid to put that proposition to the test.

That’s what Sanders is doing on Israel. He knows that Netanyahu’s opposition to the two state solution, and his support for the Iraq War, and his battles with Barack Obama, and his bromance with Trump, have deeply eroded support for Israel among African Americans, progressives and the young. He knows that his likely 2020 competitors are moving left on issue after issue—from health care to college tuition to the minimum wage—in an effort to keep pace with a Democratic base that has been radicalized by the financial crisis, stagnant wages, failed wars and Donald Trump. But he knows that when it comes to Israel, those competitors are constrained by their fears of the American Jewish establishment.

Bernie Sanders, who now stands a better chance of becoming president than any Jew in American history, is not afraid. And, as a result, over the next two years he just might alter the American debate over Israel in ways we have not witnessed in decades.

Perhaps the courage of the protesters in Gaza is proving contagious after all.

This article was originally published by “The Forward”. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.


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Bernie Sanders: 50 years of occupation must end

Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz, June 05, 2017


Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Adams Center on the University of Montana campus, in Missoula, Montana (Tommy Martino/AP)

Senator Bernie Sanders’ bid for the U.S. presidency may be history, but the progressive politician is still making his voice heard when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, declaring that “the occupation must end” in a video message to Israel’s left-wing Meretz party.  

“We are now in the 50th year of Israel’s occupation, an occupation which denies basic Palestinian rights while failing to deliver Israel real security,” said Sanders.

“I know so many of you agree with me when I say: this occupation must end. Peace – real peace – means security not only for every Israeli, but for every Palestinian. It means supporting self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for both peoples.”

The video message by Sanders was released by Meretz ahead of its screening at a conference Sunday marking 50 years of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, following the Six-Day War in 1967.

In the video, Sanders also praised Meretz as “Israel’s most prominent political organization” that stands for “equality, security, democracy and justice,” ideals that the Vermont senator said he shares. These are “the same values that progressives are fighting for in the United States and around the world,” he added.

Sanders also warned against the rise in the U.S., Europe and in Israel of “demagogues who are scapegoating minorities,” like Donald Trump. “We observe with alarm the rise of racist intolerant authoritarian political movements. We have seen similar type movements in the past with all the agony and horror they have brought to the world. And together we stand united to do anything we can to defeat these movements now and in the future,” Sanders said.

Such movements, he said, take advantage of those on the lowest rungs of society who are “living in despair” have lost faith in their governments to solve their problems and are “desperate” for any alternative. Such desperation, he said, makes them easy prey for “demagogues who are scapegoating minorities,” noting that President Donald Trump targeted minority groups before, during, and after his race for the White House.

“The antidote” he said, “is a politics of solidarity and a common humanity” by progressive parties from around the world working together. Since the “forces of oligarchy work at an international level” he said, so must resistance against such forces “work together in the same global way.”

He declared that “brave people uniting around a common set of values with clear goals, can change a country, they can change the world, they can even change the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Uri Zaki, chairman of the Meretz central committee, praised Sanders for taking a clear stand “without winking to the center of the political map or softening his edges.”

Like Sanders, he said, “Meretz also tells the truth, and the truth is that the occupation represents the greatest existential and material threat to the state of Israel. That is why we will be the only political party to hold a conference marking 50 years of the occupation and calling for an end to the settlement enterprise.” He said that the U.S. senator’s “deep opposition to the occupation” was because it “represents inequality and racism.”

Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, lost his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after making a surprisingly strong showing against Hillary Clinton. He is the undisputed leader of the progressive side of the Democratic Party.

Sanders, who is Jewish and spent time on a kibbutz in his youth, describes himself as a “strong defender of Israel” and has spoken strongly against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, but he has also been a consistent critic of the Israeli government’s policies under Benjamin Netanyahu. At the Democratic National Convention, Sanders named high-profile critics of Israel to the committee drafting the party platform.

Since the presidential election, Sanders has remained engaged with the issue – speaking at the J Street conference in February – where he also called for an end to the occupation – and meeting with Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint Arab List faction.

Bernie Sanders: On Anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Palestinians

Bernie Sanders, Common Dreams, February 28, 2017

Speech to this year’s J Street conference

Sen. Bernie Sanders delivers a speech during J Street’s 2017 National Conference at the Washington Convention Center on February 27, 2017. (Photo: Mark Wilson/AFP)

Thank you for inviting me to address you here today. It’s a pleasure to be here with J Street, which has been such a strong voice for saner, more progressive foreign policy ideas. And I am delighted to be in the company of friends from the Middle East and all over the world who I know will continue the struggle for a world of peace, justice and environmental sanity.

Let me begin by noting that in the last several months, since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race, there has been a significant outbreak of anti-Semitism here in our country. I am very alarmed by the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, with Jewish Community Centers being threatened around the country, and with the headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League receiving a bomb threat last week.

When we see violent and verbal racist attacks against minorities – whether they are African-Americans, Jews, Muslims in this country, immigrants in this country, or the LGBT community, these attacks must be condemned at the highest levels of our government.

It was rather extraordinary that in the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, the murder of 6 million Jews was not mentioned by the Trump administration. I hope very much that Pres. Trump and his political advisor Mr. Bannon understand that the world is watching: it is imperative that their voices be loud and clear in condemning anti-Semitism, violent attacks against immigrants in this country, including the murder of two young men from India, and all forms of bigotry here and around the world. This country has struggled too long against racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia. We will not go back. We are going to go forward and fight discrimination of all forms.

I must say that I also found it very troubling that, at a recent press conference, when President Trump was given an opportunity to condemn the bigotry and anti-Semitism that has arisen in the wake of his election, he chose to respond by bragging – incorrectly, by the way – about the size of his Electoral College victory. Our society is still riven by tensions from the campaign, and Americans need a president who will try to bring us together, rather than boast about his political victory.

Let me take this opportunity to thank J Street for the bold voice that they’ve provided in support of American leadership in the Middle East and efforts towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I understand that, given the political climate in this capital, that has not always been easy. I also applaud them for being part of a broad coalition of groups that successfully fought for the historic nuclear agreement between the U.S. and its partners and Iran.

That agreement demonstrated that real American leadership, real American power, is not shown by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability to bring parties together, to forge international consensus around shared problems, and then to mobilize that consensus to address those problems.

For many years, leaders across the world, especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had sounded the alarm about the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. What the Obama administration was able to do, with the support of groups like J Street and others, was to get an agreement that froze and dismantled large parts of that nuclear program, put it under the most intensive inspections regime in history, and removed the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon from the list of global threats.

As a member of the United States Senate, I hear a whole lot of speechifying. I hear from many of my colleagues how “tough” the United States has got to be, and how, at the end of the day, military force is what matters.

Well, I say to those colleagues, ‘It’s easy to give speeches in the safety of the floor of the Senate or the House. It’s a little bit harder to experience war and live through the devastation of war. I recall vividly all of the rhetoric that came from the Bush administration, that came from my Republican colleagues, and some Democrats, about why going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do. Well, it wasn’t. In fact, it is one of the great tragedies of modern world history.

Today it is now broadly acknowledged that the war in Iraq, which I opposed, was a foreign policy blunder of enormous magnitude. The war in Iraq led to the deaths of some 4,400 U.S. troops and the wounding, physical and emotional, of tens of thousands of others—not to mention the pain inflicted on wives and children and parents. The war in Iraq led to, conservatively speaking, the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and the wounding and displacement of many more. It created a cascade of instability around the region that we are still dealing with today in Syria and elsewhere, and will be for many years to come. And, by the way, that war in Iraq cost trillions of dollars—money that should have been spent on health care, education, infrastructure, and environmental protection.

The Iraq war, like many other military conflicts, had unintended consequences. It ended up making us less safe, not more safe.

In contrast, the Iran nuclear deal helped the security of the U.S. and its partners – yes, it helped the security of Israel, as many Israeli security experts have acknowledged – and it did this at a tiny fraction of the cost in blood and treasure of the Iraq war. This is the power of diplomacy. This is real leadership.

Some who opposed this nuclear deal have attacked its supporters, including J Street, for being part of a so-called “echo chamber.” The truth is that Washington has for many years had a very loud and powerful echo chamber for war. It’s about time we had an echo chamber for peace. So thank you J Street.

Now, as many of you know, I have a connection to the State of Israel going back many years. In 1963, I lived on a kibbutz near Haifa. It was there that I saw and experienced for myself many of the progressive values upon which the State of Israel was founded. I think it is very important for everyone, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution, and particularly after the horror of the Holocaust.

But as you all know, there was another side to the story of Israel’s creation, a more painful side. Like our own country, the founding of Israel involved the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people already living there, the Palestinian people. Over 700,000 people were made refugees.

To acknowledge this painful historical fact does not “delegitimize” Israel, any more than acknowledging the Trail of Tears delegitimizes the United States of America.

But I didn’t come here today simply to revisit history, or to say one historical narrative is wrong and one is right. My question here today is: OK, what now? Where do Israelis and Palestinians go from here? What should be U.S. policy to end this conflict, to end this fifty-year long occupation, and enable a better, more secure and prosperous future for Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians alike?

This decades-long conflict has taken so much from so many. Nobody gains when Israel spends an enormous part of its budget on the military. Nobody gains when Gaza is obliterated and thousands are killed, wounded, or made homeless. Nobody gains when children are trained to be suicide bombers. Nobody gains when year after year, decade after decade, the talk is about war and hatred rather than peace and development. Think of the incredible potential that is being lost when Israelis and Palestinians are not coming together effectively to address the environmental and economic challenges of the region. Our vision, a vision we must never lose sight of, is creating a Middle East where people come together in peace and democracy to create a region in which all people have a decent life. I understand that, given the realities of today, that vision appears distant and maybe even far-fetched. But it is a vision and a dream that we cannot afford to give up on.

So what should we as progressives – American progressives, Israeli progressives and progressives globally — demand of our governments in bringing this future about?

Let’s take a moment to talk about values.

It’s often said that the U.S.-Israel relationship is based on “shared values.” I think this is correct, but then we also have to ask: What do we mean by this? What values are we talking about?

As progressives, here are the values we share: We believe in democracy. We believe in equality. We believe in pluralism. We are strongly opposed to xenophobia. We respect and we will protect the rights of minorities.

These are values that are shared by progressives in this country and across the globe. These values are based upon the very simple notion that we share a common humanity. Whether we are Israelis or Palestinians or Americans, whether we are Jews, Christians, Muslims, or of another religion, we all want our children to grow up healthy, to have a good education, have decent jobs, drink clean water and breathe clean air, and to live in peace.

That’s what being human is about. And our job is to do everything that we can to oppose all of the political forces, no matter what side they may be on, who try to tear us apart.

Earlier this month, at a White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump was asked whether he supported a two-state solution. His answer was, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.” As if someone asked him whether he preferred Coke to Pepsi.

We should be clear: The two-state solution, which involves the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories occupied in 1967, has been bipartisan U.S. policy for many years. It is also supported by an overwhelming international consensus, which was reaffirmed in December by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. While I understand that they’ve walked that statement back, the casual manner in which President Trump appeared to abandon that policy was extremely concerning, but also unfortunately typical of the carelessness with which he has managed American foreign policy thus far.

The president said that he supports a peace deal, but this doesn’t mean much. The real question is: Peace on what terms, and under what arrangement? Does “peace” mean that Palestinians will be forced to live under perpetual Israeli rule, in a series of disconnected communities in the West Bank and Gaza? That’s not tolerable, and that’s not peace.

If Palestinians in the occupied territories are to be denied self-determination in a state of their own, will they receive full citizenship and equal rights in a single state, potentially meaning the end of a Jewish majority state? These are very serious questions with significant implications for America’s broader regional partnerships and goals.

Friends, the United States and the State of Israel have a strong bond, going back to the moment of Israel’s founding. There is no question that we should be, and will be Israel’s strong friend and ally in the years to come. At the same time, we must recognize that Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories and its daily restrictions on the political and civil liberties of the Palestinian people runs contrary to fundamental American values.

As former Secretary of State John Kerry rightly said in his speech in December, ‘Friends need to tell each other the hard truths.’ And the hard truth is that the continued occupation and the growth of Israeli settlements that the occupation sustains, undermines the possibility of peace. It contributes to suffering and violence.

As the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed on December 23, the settlements also constitute a flagrant violation of international law. I applaud the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from vetoing UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Those of us who really support Israel have got to tell the truth about policies are hurting chances of reaching a peaceful resolution.

I recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most emotionally fraught issues in U.S. politics, involving as it does the legitimate historical claims, identities and security of two peoples in the same region.

So let me be very clear: to oppose the policies of a right-wing government in Israel does not make one anti-Israel or an anti-Semite. We can oppose the policies of President Trump without being anti-American. We can oppose the policies of Netanyahu without being anti-Israel. We can oppose the policies of Islamic extremism without being anti-Muslim.

As I said during my presidential campaign, peace means security not only for every Israeli, but also for every Palestinian. It means supporting self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for both peoples.

These ideas are based in the very same shared values that impel us to condemn anti-Semitic bigotry, condemn anti-Muslim bigotry, and to make our own society better. These are the ideas that should guide us. The values of inclusiveness, security, democracy, and justice should inform not only America’s engagement with Israel and Palestine, but with the region and the world.

The United States will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of the State of Israel, but we must also be clear that peacefully resolving this conflict is the best way to ensure the long-term safety of both peoples, and for making America more secure.

To my Israeli friends here with us today: we share many of the same challenges. In both our countries we see the rise of a politics of bigotry and intolerance and resentment. We must meet these challenges together. As you struggle to make your society better, more just, more egalitarian, I want to say to you: Your fight is our fight.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont’s at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders get off Israel bandwagon, for once

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, September 26, 2014

The Senate is warning Palestinians against undertaking any “negative” unilateral actions re Israel at the United Nations, and look who isn’t signing on to the letter that AIPAC has endorsed: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Folks have been pressing Warren and her staffers not to sign this letter – and she didn’t. Neither did Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Maybe the national publicity and pressure on these progressives over their Israel-Palestine positions moved them? Maybe they’re tacking ahead of 2016? Here are the 12 non-signers, from both parties:

Bernard Sanders (I), Bob Corker (R), Elizabeth Warren (D), Harry Reid*, Jeff Sessions (R), John D. Rockefeller IV*, Lisa Murkowski (R), Patrick J. Leahy* (D), Rand Paul (R), Tammy Baldwin (D), Tom Coburn (R), Tom Harkin* (D).

(*Majority leader/ senior committee chairs who don’t usually subscribe to these things)

Is this the beginning of a Senate “refuser caucus”? We can only hope. A friend who emailed the office of one liberal northeastern senator who did sign the letter got back this note:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Senator. I would like to share with you the J Street perspective on the letter if that helps.

J Street supported the letter, right alongside AIPAC. Another sign of JStreet as “AIPAC Lite” giving liberal cover for the Israel lobby agenda.

The text of the letter is up at New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte‘s site. It urges the State Department to keep Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities and governing Gaza, and to prevent the Palestinian Authority from going to the International Criminal Court.

Letter Presses Administration to Prevent Hamas from Rebuilding Military Capabilities and Calls for Gaza Demilitarization
Sep 23, 2014
Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group, announced that they’ve led a letter signed by 88 senators to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Administration to take steps to ensure that no assistance is diverted to Hamas, support the Palestinian Authority’s effort to govern in Gaza, and discourage Palestinian unilateral measures at the United Nations and International Criminal Court that bypass direct negotiations and undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Senators wrote, “As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:
September 23, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,
We were pleased to see that Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian cease-fire plan last month. Sadly, Hamas continued its attacks on Israel for weeks after Egypt’s initial proposal, leading to unnecessary and increased suffering in Gaza and Israel.
As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
First, we fully support the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. We must also condition reconstruction assistance on the establishment of a system to prevent Hamas from rearming and rebuilding its military capability. In the past, Hamas has diverted construction materials intended for civilian use to the construction of the tunnel networks that were used during this last conflict to smuggle weapons and attack Israelis. We must support Israeli and Egyptian efforts to implement strict, comprehensive controls so that no assistance is diverted to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The international community has twice spent billions to rebuild Gaza, only to see Hamas transform economic assistance into the means of war. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, we cannot let this happen again. Ultimately, we must seek Gaza’s demilitarization.
Second, we must support efforts to enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise real power in Gaza. Hamas has demonstrated conclusively both that it has no interest in peace with Israel and that it has no concern for the well-being of Gaza residents. Meanwhile, the West Bank has experienced periods of significant relative economic growth and stability, in part due to cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces there. All Palestinians deserve a government that will seek to advance their safety and prosperity-not use them as human shields. Real peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require a Palestinian partner that controls the West Bank and Gaza, is focused on economic development and stability in both areas, and will accept Gaza’s demilitarization. We must start this process now.
Third, while we work with the Palestinian Authority to extend its effective jurisdiction to Gaza, we must work equally hard to ensure that Palestinian officials do not take further harmful steps at the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, or the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority must avoid steps that would undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We must let Palestinian Authority President Abbas know that America’s willingness to cooperate with him will continue to depend on his willingness to return to the negotiating table with the Government of Israel and avoid unilateral measures that bypass direct negotiations.
We look forward to working with you on these critical matters, as our nation strives both to prevent another Hamas-instigated war and to create the conditions that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to move closer to peace.

Sincerely,

Kelly A. Ayotte
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
James M. Inhofe
Richard Blumenthal
Susan M. Collins
Edward J. Markey
Mike Crapo
Joe Manchin III
Pat Roberts
Jeanne Shaheen
Jeff Flake
Tim Kaine
David Vitter
Michael F. Bennet
John Boozman
Kirsten Gillibrand
John Thune
Tim Johnson
Jerry Moran
Debbie Stabenow
Roy Blunt
Patty Murray
John McCain
Kay R. Hagan
James E. Risch
Mark Begich
Marco Rubio
Ron Wyden
Patrick J. Toomey
Barbara Boxer
Dean Heller
Benjamin L. Cardin
John Barrasso
Mark Udall
Richard Burr
Mazie K. Hirono
Lindsey O. Graham
Brian Schatz
Mitch McConnell
Amy Klobuchar
Thad Cochran
Heidi Heitkamp
Deb Fischer
Jon Tester
John Cornyn
Sherrod Brown
Rob Portman
Mark L. Pryor
Michael B. Enzi
Barbara A. Mikulski
Mark Kirk
Maria Cantwell
Lamar Alexander
Martin Heinrich
Orrin G. Hatch
Mary L. Landrieu
Tim Scott
Tom Udall
Roger F. Wicker
Tom Carper
John Hoeven
Charles E. Schumer
Mike Lee
Joe Donnelly
Chuck Grassley
Al Franken
Ted Cruz
Christopher A. Coons
Johnny Isakson
Sheldon Whitehouse
Mike Johanns
Cory Booker
Ron Johnson
Carl Levin
Saxby Chambliss
Bill Nelson
Dan Coats
Mark R. Warner
Richard Shelby
Angus S. King, Jr.
Claire McCaskill
John Walsh
Richard J. Durbin
Chris Murphy
Robert Menendez
Jack Reed
Dianne Feinstein
Jeff Merkley