Wednesday, April 24, 2019

By Daled Amos

When it comes to proving his pro-Israel bonafides, Bernie Sanders is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

His problem is that condemning Israel has now become a popular litmus test among progressive Democrats seeking to win the party nomination to run for president. And the candidates are getting more competitive as they try to outdo each other.

Just last week, Beto O'Rourke called Netanyahu a racist.

So now this week, Bernie Sanders has called Netanyahu a racist.

photo
Bernie Sanders. Public Domain


Funny how concerned both of them are about combating racism and prejudice when both Sanders and O'Rourke have no problem speaking at the National Action Network of Al Sharpton, whose history of inciting hatred is well known. More recently, in 2012, during the outrage over the death of Trayvon Martin, Sharpton falsely claimed that George Zimmerman used “racial language” in speaking with police, and during his prime-time program on MSNBC Sharpton claimed that Zimmerman,whose mother is Peruvian, was “white” -- implying there was a racial bias in the killing.

This is the man both Sanders and O'Rourke are courting.

On that score, not to be left out, in January a number of Democratic presidential candidates were courting Sharpton as well:

Joe Biden
o  Elizabeth Warren
o  Kirsten Gillibrand
o  Kamala Harris

And now, in April, the Democratic candidates are at it again:

o  Beto O'Rourke
o  Andrew Yang
o  Julian Castro
o  John Delaney
o  Pete Buttigieg
o  Kamala Harris
o  Elizabeth Warren
o  Bernie Sanders
o  Kirsten Gillibrand
o  Amy Klobuchar
o  Cory Booker
o  John Hickenlooper

For his part, Bernie doesn't even stop at Netanyahu; he has been calling Trump a racist too -- and worse:
It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we have a president today who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a homophobe, who is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot. I wish I did not have to say that. But that is the damn truth.
And yet, at the same time Sanders defends Ilhan Omar, claiming
We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel. [emphasis added]
What is not clear is how Sanders considers Omar's 'Benjamins' comment and implication of dual loyalty by supporters of Israel to be 'legitimate criticism' of Israel.

Similarly, it is not clear how Sanders walks the fine line of accusing Netanyahu of being a racist when he was re-elected in free democratic elections in Israel for a 5th term.

But if Sanders is so willing to throw Israel under the bus, condemning its newly re-elected Prime Minister and defending attacks on the Jewish state itself, what is it that makes Bernie Sanders pro-Israel?

Apparently, the only way we know that Sanders is pro-Israel is that he says so:
As a young man I spent a number of months in Israel, [and] worked on a kibbutz for while. I have family in Israel. I am not anti-Israel. But the fact of the matter is that Netanyahu is a right-wing politician who I think is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly. [emphasis added]
If Sanders really has to resort to this to prove he is pro Israel, he must realize how shaky his pro-Israel bonafides actually are.

Compare with Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh, who has 3 sisters who live in Israel as full citizens. For that matter, Haniyeh's grand-daughter, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law have all been treated in Israeli hospitals.

photo
Ismail Haniyeh. Youtube Screencap

Does that make Haniyeh as pro-Israel as Bernie Sanders?

But why does Sanders resort to such irrelevant points to begin with?

Well, how else would anyone know that Sanders is pro-Israel? After all, outside of political campaigns, does he ever just come out and talk about Israel just for the sake of talking about Israel? On the contrary, it appears that Sanders has never appeared at AIPAC, has never appeared at a pro-Israel rally and also has not traveled to the Middle East in decades.

This is not about Sanders criticizing Israel in general. Criticizing the Israeli government is practically a national pastime in Israel, and contrary to the oft-heard excuse that cries of antisemitism are just excuses to stifle criticism of Israel, no one considers criticism of Israel to be antisemitic, as long as it does not demonize, delegitimize, or rely on double standards.

The bottom line is that the arguments Bernie Sanders uses to prove he is pro-Israel are just plain silly.

And the people he chooses as friends and allies make his judgement on matters of racism suspect.

We'll leave it to others to judge whether Bernie's arguments for his other political positions are equally simplistic.




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