Bernie’s Israel-Palestine Shondeh – OpEd


I just noticed that the Bernie Sanders campaign has distributed scores of campaign graphic posters in multiple languages which tout his credentials for promoting progressive values.  The Hebrew slogan which the campaign added is:

“America grows as a nation when we are united and say No to racism, to hate, and extremism.”

Too bad Bernie doesn’t uphold those values when it comes to Israel-Palestine!  Bernie has hardly any platform on the issue.  He’s essentially a mealy-mouthed liberal Zionist.  In fact, if he held the same views on the wide array of domestic U.S. issues that he holds on I-P, he’d laugh himself out of the room.  He’s Hillary waving an Israeli-Palestine flag.  Big deal.

There is no difference between Bernie and Hillary on Israel-Palestine.  Except perhaps that Bernie wouldn’t go to war for Israel and Hillary clearly would.  That’s not a bad start for a platform, but it shouldn’t be the last word.  And for Bernie it pretty much is.

He supports a two-state solution, when that train left the station for many of his progressive supporters a long time ago.  One day long ago in the past Bernie supported cutting U.S. military aid to Israel.  But that’s long gone.

Look, I support Bernie.  But not because of Israel-Palestine, in spite of it.  If anyone wants a primer of reasons not to support him because of his record on the subject read Steven Salaita’s Salon post.

But unlike Salaita, I’m not voting based on a single issue.  (And I understand why any Palestinian might not vote against him based on this issue).  I’m voting based on a range of issues.  And Bernie is best on many of them.

But he’s not good on Israel-Palestine.  In fact, for a progressive he’s terrible.  There are a lot of reasons for his lackluster views.  Some of them persuasive, many not.

But the main point is that if you’re running his campaign, don’t pretend Bernie’s something he’s not.  He’s simply not progressive on Israel-Palestine.  So don’t pretend he is.  It makes a fool out of him.  And Bernie’s no fool.  Or at least he shouldn’t be.

If you want to say Bernie’s good on these values in domestic terms, I’m all for it. But when has Bernie ever made a big deal out of opposing Israeli Jewish racism, extremism or hate? Sure he talks a good game. Settlers-bad. Democracy-good. That and a few bucks’ll buy you a cup of coffee! But not much more than that.

This article was published at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

One thought on “Bernie’s Israel-Palestine Shondeh – OpEd

  • February 24, 2016 at 4:36 am

    I haven’t really noticed anyone arguing that he’s progressive on that particular issue. He’s seriously attempting to be elected as President of the United States. If he condemned Israel his campaign would be over. I mean, there’s a chance the Republican candidate may win the election and both of the front runners are openly bragging about how they plan to make the Middle-East “glow.” In the current American climate I will take sanity wherever I can get it.


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