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Tibon writes: "Israel 'massively overreacted' to protests at the Gaza border, Senator Bernie Sanders told the annual conference of the pro-peace Jewish group J Street on Monday."

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the annual J Street conference in Washington, April 14, 2018. (photo: Gili Getz)
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the annual J Street conference in Washington, April 14, 2018. (photo: Gili Getz)

Bernie Sanders: Ending Israel's Occupation of Palestine Is in American's Interests

By Amir Tibon, Haaretz

17 April 18

'I say to the crown prince and the other multi-billionaire leaders in the region, stop just talking about the poverty and distress in Gaza, do something about it,' Sanders tells J Street

srael "massively overreacted" to protests at the Gaza border, Senator Bernie Sanders told the annual conference of the pro-peace Jewish group J Street on Monday.

"The presence of Hamas members among a crowd of tens of thousands does not justify the level of violence we saw, and frankly it’s amazing to me that anyone would find that point controversial," Sanders said. "I have condemned Hamas’ use of terrorist violence and will continue to do so. But that violence cannot excuse shooting at unarmed protesters, and it cannot excuse trapping almost 2 million people inside Gaza."

Sanders criticized "the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu" and slammed "the inhumane blockade of Gaza," but added that other countries in Israel's region also fail to do enough. The senator specifically mentioned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who recently visited the United States.

"So I say to the crown prince and the other multi-billionaire leaders in the region, stop just talking about the poverty and distress in Gaza, do something meaningful about it," Sanders said. "I heard the other day that the Saudi king pledged $50 million to UNRWA, the UN agency that works with Palestinian refugees. Fifty million dollars is not a small sum of money, but let us not forget that it is ten percent of what the crown prince paid for a yacht."

Sanders went on to discuss the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict and expressed concern over the future of the two-state solution. According to Sanders, putting an end to the Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state "is in the interest of Americans Israelis, Palestinians and the entire region."

But, Sanders said, "Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies seem to be preparing for a different future, in which Israel controls the entire territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River in perpetuity."

He also slammed the Trump administration's policy on Israel and its decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying that with the move, "President Trump has severely undermined the peace process." As a result, Sanders said, "the ultimate deal" is now "farther away than it has ever been, and trust in the United States as an honest and even-handed broker is almost non-existent."

Sanders concluded his speech by discussing "the rise of intolerant authoritarian political movements and governments which are attacking the very foundations of democratic societies" around the world. He accused Trump and other leaders of exploiting frustrations among the public "for their own political and economic ends."

Sanders spoke after Susan Rice, the national security adviser of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who mocked Trump for saying early on in his presidency "how easy it will be to get Middle East peace." The crowd burst out laughing when Rice was asked what role she thinks the Trump administration can play in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "They inherited a problem that seems increasingly far from a solution," she said. your social media marketing partner


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+50 # librarian1984 2018-04-17 13:30
Sanders is beginning to make important speeches on foreign policy, plugging a perceived weakness in his prior run for president. His speech at Riverside Baptist a few months ago was wonderful, and this speech at J Street was courageous and well received.

Sanders was greeted with thunderous applause, interrupted several times by enthusiastic listeners, and got a standing ovation as he finished.

He criticized Palestine AND Israel, specifically Netanyahoo, and Trump for moving the capital to Jerusalem, which he said many had understood would be the capstone of a successful peace process, that it would be moved as the capitol of a city that honored Christians, Jews and Muslims, not used to rile up the aggrieved. It was supposed to be a joyful move, not a slap in the face.

He said there was no excuse for firing live ammunition at peaceful protestors.

"The parameters of the solution are well known .. supported by an overwhelming international consensus." He calls for a two-state solution along 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the shared capitol.

Go Bernie!
+20 # janie1893 2018-04-17 17:29
From what I have read over past months, I am beginning to believe Israel and the Saudis are colluding in their (too) silent reactions to the conflicts in the middle east.
They both seem to be vultures waiting for the current fights to be over so they can swoop in and snag the remains.
+16 # treerapper 2018-04-18 01:46
They are both venture capitalists and anything to gain more power is on the table. For Israel's extreme right wing Apartheid government, it means annihilation of the Palestinian people - by any means necessary. For the Saudis, it's complete domination of the Arab world by any means necessary. Enough common goals to be in bed together.
+15 # CarolYost 2018-04-17 18:51
I think the only reason Hamas is mentioned at all is that Israel blames Hamas for Israel’s own actions. Israel is not acting in self-defense as it claims. I don’t think Bernie should mention Hamas to placate Israel in any way. I also think that a one-state solution would be best all around. However, in general I like very much what Bernie is saying, especially since he is one of the VERY few American politicians to dare to be critical of Israel.

I have an automatic monthly donation of $20 that goes out to RSN each month. I wish I did not get the emails aimed at those who don’t donate.
+8 # kgrad 2018-04-17 19:16

I have an automatic monthly donation of $10 that goes out to RSN each month. I, too, wish I did not get the emails aimed at those who don’t donate.
+2 # yolo 2018-04-18 18:33
"I also think that a one-state solution would be best all around."
I agree a single state with a government which represents all the people. Not a religious government so when you criticize its policies you aren't attacked for being anti-Semitic.
+29 # CenTexDem 2018-04-17 18:51
Why is America in the Middle East? Why are American taxpayers paying the equivalent of about $9 more per gallon over the posted price at the gasoline pump (as argued without rebuttal by GOP presidential primary candidate, Jon Huntsman, at the Reagan Library debates in 2008) to provide international oil companies with free security every year? Why are we failing to invest those same tax dollars in good job creating planet and health saving wind, solar, and environmentally regulated domestic natural gas to produce electricity and to run our trucks and trains for genuine national, military, economic, health, and environmental security and wide spread prosperity for all Americans? Why are we burning drought and heat creating, air and water polluting, tree and people and planet killing coal? Why is America exporting its domestic natural gas and importing Saudi oil? Why are we allowing China to be the world leader in clean energy manufacturing and export? Putin loves war in the Middle East. Why? Because it will drive up the price for Russian oil that Putin profits from.
+6 # GreenBee 2018-04-18 21:55
CenTexDem Here are three or four good theories why we are fighting in the ME. One: we need to kiss the feet of the Saudis so they will continue to honor our currency as the petro-dollar. Two: the Saudis want to keep Russia and Syria weak so Russia and Syria cannot build natural gas pipelines through Syria and compete with their own gas exportation. Three: the Saudis are allied with Israel as we are also, and they will not tolerate being less than the top dogs in their region. Four: And then there are the war profiteers who bribe our legislators and policy makers who have to have a war somewhere to keep the profits coming in.
+6 # boredlion 2018-04-17 19:09
Hurray Bernie ! Keep hammering at them billionaire tin-pot despots !
I'm with you !
+14 # btraven 2018-04-17 19:53
Librarian is right. Sanders is finally beginning to enunciate foreign polices that are aimed at the instigators of middle east chaos i.e. Saudi Arabia and Israel. We must stop spending on this perpetual war on the ephemeral war on terror and put pressure on the two nations there who we have been carrying water for.
+7 # angelfish 2018-04-17 20:13
Sadly, Bernie. Your Sane and Intelligent take on the prolonged misery in Palestine offers little hope of resolution until the Nazis holding Political Power there are REMOVED. Netanyahu and his minions, are single minded in their hatred of those whose country and Governments they Usurped in 1948. The British bear a healthy amount of the blame in orchestrating the on-going disaster. Hopefully, Sanity will return to the World Stage and the Greedsters and ME-FIRSTers will be given the Just Desserts they SO heartily deserve. Dear God, let their Judgment cometh,and that, Right SOON!
+4 # elizabethblock 2018-04-18 14:16
I wish this was true. But the people in line behind Netanyahu, when he finally goes, are even worse than he is.
Israel is a democracy (for Jews, that is), which means that the government, over the long term, does what it does because the people want it to. It's not just the government.

As for Bernie Sanders, and other Zionists who are now criticizing Israel or at worst keeping silent - that's on account of what Israel has done and continues to do. The killings in Gaza were so egregious that even die-hard Zionists can't defend them.

But two states? Where is the land that was supposed to become the state of Palestine? We all know where it is.
+11 # Ken Halt 2018-04-17 21:17
Thank you, Bernie, one of the few fair-minded legislators in DC. From Amnesty Int'l: "June marked 50 years since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the start of the 11th year of its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, subjecting approximately 2 million inhabitants to collective punishment and a growing humanitarian crisis. The Israeli authorities intensified expansion of settlements and related infrastructure across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and severely restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians. Israeli forces unlawfully killed Palestinian civilians, including children, and unlawfully detained within Israel thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), holding hundreds in administrative detention without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, remained pervasive and was committed with impunity. Israel continued to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank and in Palestinian villages inside Israel, forcibly evicting residents. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned. Thousands of African asylum-seekers were threatened with deportation."
-20 # Salburger 2018-04-18 08:19
"He said there was no excuse for firing live ammunition at peaceful protesters" as if men using deadly six foot long slings, Molotov cocktails, and explosives in order to storm the border are "peaceful protesters." But they aren't peaceful and they weren't deterred by tear gas, water cannons or rubber bullets so live ammunition was used in limited amounts.
+4 # mebemo 2018-04-18 10:27
Dear Sal, Try living in Gaza for a week and find out why "tear gas, etc." wouldn't deter you, either. "Limited amounts" of live ammunition would be enough to kill you or someone you love.
+10 # PCPrincess 2018-04-18 11:11
The Palestinians who died as a result of that live ammunition were human beings.
+5 # Benign Observer 2018-04-18 11:14
I think it's terrible for Israel to put you in the position of having to defend increasingly monstrous behavior. Maybe some day you will see it too.
+10 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-04-18 09:54
+3 # angelfish 2018-04-19 13:57
I'd like to know WHY we are STiLL subsidizing Israel and allowing them to continue the slaughter? We have Americans who could REALLY bebefit from those Funds. WHY aren't we helping them?
+3 # ellen.rosser 2018-04-19 21:31
Yes, it's great that Bernie criticized Netanyahu, but it is sad that even he reviles Hamas. Maybe he doesn't know that Hamas saved Israeli lives by preventing the other parties such as Islamic Jihad from shooting rockets into southern Israel, that Hamas did not violate any of the ceasefires with Israel (Israel was the violator), and that Hamas has accepted the two-state solution since l997 and now has it in its new Charter.. The Israeli peace group The Other Voice in Sderot seems to know and it out demonstrating against Israel's massacre of unarmed Palestinians.
+3 # David Starr 2018-04-20 09:25
I think a two-state solution would be beneficial for all those involved, Israeli and Palestinian. It would show a mutual respect for both in regards to identity and self-government.

It must be remembered that before 1948 Israel didn't exist as a nation. The area was called Palestine. Thus, with the loss of land and the continuance of Israeli settlements, Palestinians deserve to have a state predicated on the 1967 borders.

The Israeli right-wing won't like it? That's too bad. The struggle for a Palestinian state will continue. The very identity for Palestinians is at stake.

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