The Democratic Party clash over Israel policy is turning into a civil war, with Bernie Sanders supporters pushing an agenda that would make Israel little better than a pariah state.
On one side, you have Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment who are reasonably committed to Israel’s survival, but hate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They recognize the U.S. has an historic commitment to the Jewish state, but favor dialogue with the Palestinians.
On the other side, you have the thinly disguised anti-Semitism of Bernie Sanders supporters, who want a plank in the platform recognizing that Israel is “occupying” the West Bank. They also want to tilt the playing field toward the Palestinians.
The lukewarm support of Hillary Clinton for Israel is a lot better than the Sanders open hostility to the Jewish State. But Clinton can’t afford a debate like this in public, so she is looking to squelch Sanders supporters to keep the issue from becoming a bloody floor fight.
Clinton has defended Israel’s use of force against Hamas and dismissed criticisms about “disproportionate force” harming civilians as an unfortunate part of that defense. She has accused Palestinian leaders of allowing Hamas to turn Gaza into “a terrorist haven.” And, speaking at an annual AIPAC convention in March, she said “America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival.”
“Some things aren’t negotiable,” she said, “and anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president.”
Sanders, by contrast, has called for a more “even-handed approach” that lends more consideration to Palestinian casualties. He’s criticized Israel’s military actions in Gaza as “disproportionate” at the expense of civilians. And he skipped the AIPAC convention, instead laying out his Middle East agenda in Salt Lake City, where he decried Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank as an impediment to peace.
“Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza — once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part,” he said in March.
It’s hardly the first time Democrats have grappled with each other over Israel during election season. At the Charlotte, N.C., convention in 2012, party leaders stirred a hornet’s nest when they rewrote the platform, mid-event, to declare Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. The contentious voice vote drew a chorus of boos from critics who both opposed the policy and questioned the veracity of the unverifiable tally.
But the Sanders people just can’t help themselves. Here is Cornel West on Israel — a statement that fairly drips with anti-Semitism:
“For too long the Democratic Party’s been beholden to AIPAC [and] didn’t take seriously the humanity of Palestinian brothers and sisters,” Cornel West, an educator and activist appointed by Sanders to the drafting committee, said last week, referring to the pro-Israel lobbying group.
“We’re at a turning point now.”
How many times have we heard that AIPAC “controls” America, or that those poor, peaceful Palestinians are being put upon by the beastly Jews? If the Palestinians had any “humanity” they would amend their charter that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and murder of all Jews in “Palestine.”
How very human of them.
In recent years, the Democrats have become more and more openly anti-Israel. Despite that, American Jews continue to give almost 3 out of every 4 of their vote to Democrats. That isn’t likely to change come November, no matter what the Democratic plank on Israel says.