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Bernie Sanders has left the US speechless after he did something unthinkable in last night’s CNN debate. He actually showed some support to the Palestinians, stressing that America will have to treat the Palestinian people ‘with respect and dignity.’ Of course, he didn’t fail to mention that he’s completely on Israel’s side but he’s wise enough to understand that something has to change for the conflict to stop.
Though many Americans might agree with him, a statement like this coming from a presidential candidate is still something unprecedented. In the past, the most successful candidates were always pro-Israel, accusing the Palestinians that they began the conflict and expressing strong support for Israeli policy. To make matters even more surprising, the most popular Jewish candidate ever did the unexpected last night. Bernie started a new, much-needed conversation about Israel and Palestine.
Sanders, as someone who lived in Israel, didn’t say that he’s against Israel or that the Jewish country is to blame for the tense situation. However, his arguments show that he’s a supporter of what’s called liberal Zionism, which says that you don’t have to be anti-Israel to admit that the country’s treatment of the Palestinians is not right. Sanders argued that Israel ‘has a right to defend itself,’ adding that there cannot be peace in that part of the world if the United States don’t start taking into consideration the Palestinian people.
Clinton, who focused on her time as secretary of state, said that she has also stood up for Palestine. The difference between her and Bernie is, according to her own words, that she has done that in private negotiations. She said that she was the one who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israeli, stressing that she ‘focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.’
The only problem is that many Democrats have done the same as Hilary. They have privately criticized Israel. For Sanders, this is simply not enough. Like many liberal Zionists, he believes that Israel is on the road to self-destruction and feels that something needs to be done to prevent this from happening. Here’s what he said:
‘’There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.’’
Sanders wants America to publicly admit that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is unacceptable, as politicians such as Netanyahu are responsible for the suffering of the people of Palestine. Yesterday, Sanders also pointed out that Clinton has been unwilling to acknowledge this suffering on too many occasions.
The bottom line is that Sanders wants to do more than what Obama has already done, which includes criticizing Netanyahu on settlement expansion and efforts to hinder the Iran deal. He wants the United States to actively support the rights of the Palestinians. Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t mean that America won’t consider Israel its friend anymore. It’s just that the States should show some criticism of its friend’s mistakes.
This might not look like a big deal to the average Joe or Jane, but Bernie actually wants America’s policy to be more fair toward countries and people it doesn’t treat as allies and friends. What’s more, he’s sending a message that it’s perfectly fine and acceptable to criticize Israel and some of its actions. Mind you, all of this comes from a Jewish man who lived in Israel, which just goes to show how just and fair Sanders really is.
Also, Sanders is someone who listens to the people. For example, a February Gallup poll on Israel and Palestine came to the conclusion that most Democrats, the same as all US demographics, are way more sympathetic toward Israel. On the other hand, the same poll found that those same Democrats believe that Palestinians deserve to have a state of their own.
In a nutshell, Democrats prefer Israel over Palestine, but still think that Palestinians should have a state. Republicans don’t agree with Democrats, as they aren’t that supportive of a Palestinian state. Nevertheless, Bernie is primarily interested in the opinion of his fellow Democrats, who obviously don’t disagree with liberal Zionism.