Bernie Sanders Gives Tepid/Measured Speech on Israeli/Palestinian Conflict (video and partial transcript)

by Scott Creighton

UPDATE: For comparison purposes, you can read the transcript of Donald Trump’s war-mongering, sycophantic pandering speech to AIPAC, here.

Bernie Sanders politely declined an invitation to speak at this year’s AIPAC convention in D.C. yesterday. The other presidential candidates went there and pandered to the Likudnik Lobby as if their professional lives depended on it, slandering everyone from Iran to Palestinian children “being taught to hate” the Jewish state for no other reason than… Muslims.

Bernie gave a lengthy stump speech in Utah then he gave a little press conference type address in which he delivered what he claims would have been his AIPAC speech. It is notable for a number of reasons but the most obvious is… he chose not to give it to the AIPAC crowd… which probably would have booed him off the stage if he gave it there or physically dragged him off the stage, exposing AIPAC and it’s rabid followers for what it and they really are.

So, was his decision to give this speech half a country away a decision he made in his best interests or in theirs? Hard too say. My guess is “both”

I have copied part of the transcript of his speech from his website and posted the full video below my comments.

I have left out much of the transcript because he stops talking about Palestine about halfway through it and then goes on and on about how we should provide more support to our “friends” in Saudi Arabia so they can continue their Salafist “moderate” terrorist regime change operation in Syria, under the cover of “fighting ISIS”.  Bernie even calls Assad and Gaddafi “brutal dictators” (lumping them in with Saddam Hussein) and suggests it was right and proper to attempt to force regime change on them.

“In other words, we all recognize that Assad is a brutal dictator. But I think that our priorities right now have got to be destroy ISIS, work out a political settlement with Russia and Iran to get Assad out of power“..

“All of us know what has occurred in Iraq. We got rid of Saddam Hussein, a brutal, brutal murderer and a tyrant.”…

“And the situation is not totally dissimilar from what has happened in Libya. We got rid of a terrible dictator there, Colonel Gaddafi…” Bernie Sanders

To me this kind of apologist revisionist view of what both the Bush and Obama administrations did in Iraq, Libya and Syria is unforgivable and for that, no matter what the man says about the 1% and changing campaign financing laws, he does not deserve either my respect or my vote.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did not destroy Libya with their “humanitarian” bombing campaigns because Gaddafi was a “brutal dictator” and they did not set in motion the regime change of Syria via the use of Salafist “moderate” terrorists who are still bombing and killing civilians in Syria to this very day because Assad is a “brutal dictator”

Neither of those two men were/are “brutal dictators”. They were/are very popular in their respective countries and they just happened to oppose Western Big Banking financial interests and hold a different opinion than Bernie Sanders on what it means to be a socialist (as in they were/are and he wasn’t/isn’t)

That said, Sanders does make some (albeit tepid) accurate statements about what is happening in Palestine right now and calls for a legitimate effort to negotiate a two state solution, with official borders between the two nations and the withdrawal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank (Green Line from 1967 June accord is already recognized by most of the world as the official borders. I wonder if Bernie will support that). He also speaks (briefly) about the disproportionate “reaction” of Israel’s IDF attacks on Gaza back in 2014 (it wasn’t a “reaction” you asshole, they staged the rocket launching so they could attack Gaza) which killed over 1,500 Palestinian civilians (and over 500 Palestinian children, which Sanders fails to mention)

So the transcript is below and the video is below that.

As you all know, Bernie is courting the young vote, the BDS-type activist vote, and so for him to make this speech, it certainly helps his street credit especially when you consider one of the biggest push-backs against him from the alternative/progressive community is that video in which he screams at a supporter at some town hall meeting when she was asking him to denounce Israel over the killing of 500 Palestinian children back in 2014. He said “Excuse me! Shut up! Israel has a right to defend itself!”

“In my view Hamas has been very clear and say Israel does not have a right to exist” Bernie Sanders

That of course is absolutely not true. But it is a Hasbara talking point, cleaved from the propaganda they spout about Iran.

In that little exchange back then, Sanders used every Hasbara talking point he could think of to justify the IDF’s attacking civilian targets, including but not limited to saying Hamas was launching rockets from civilian population centers (like schools?) and that meant it was their fault so many civilians were being killed by Israel.

Interestingly, back in 2014, he does the exact same thing he did yesterday and that is bring up “ISIS” right after talking about Israel’s crimes against humanity as if too say “look. these guys are worse by comparison so let’s put this into perspective”

Anyway, the text and video are below. See what you think.

… To my mind, as friends – long term friends with Israel – we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.

Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.

But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have.

America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face a very daunting challenge and that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel.

But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.

So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.

The road toward peace will be difficult. Wonderful people, well-intentioned people have tried decade after decade to achieve that and it will not be easy. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I firmly believe that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution.

The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations.

Progress is never made unless people are prepared to sit down and talk to each other. This is no small thing. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. Again, this is not easy, but that is the direction we’ve got to go.

This will require compromises on both sides, but I believe it can be done. I believe that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to the ocassion and do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace in a region of the world that has seen so much war, so much conflict and so much suffering.

Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all people of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel.

Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.

Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism.

But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.

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.

That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.

It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf

Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.

Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water.

Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.

We recently saw a dramatic example of just how important this concept is. In 2014, the decades-old conflict escalated once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came after weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory and the kidnapping of Israeli citizens…

… However, let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.

Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.” Bernie Sanders

And here is the full video of his speech:

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17 Responses

  1. SOCIALIST MY FOOT.

  2. Does Hamas say Israel staged the attack to which you refer?

    I say “Israel” as a nation with rabbinical law does NOT have a right to exist. Palestine has a right to exist, the right of return implemented
    and a plebiscite then held to determine nature of government, rightful citizenship as pertaining to which non-Zionist Jews can hold such and other matters.

    • Zionist settler-state has no right to exist in any shape and form. Their only right is to pack-up and return to their ancestral land – Europe.

  3. Brussels has been attacked. At least two dozen dead. And figures, it happens right after the “main suspect” in the Paris attacks was arrested.

    Now Hasbara and like-minded folks get even more ammunition…

  4. Just read the Trump speech,WOW,….can you say “boot licker”?I knew you could.

  5. the so-called “two state solution” is not a solution at all — it would guarantee continued conflict. those politicians pushing this “solution” like to promote the idea because it gives them the appearance of seeking a peaceful and unbiased resolution to the conflict. meanwhile, any palestinian state would most certainly be a vassal state under the control of israel.

    the only sane and reasonable and human solution to this crisis is for israel to grant the right of return, pay reparations for stolen/destroyed property, and to create a state where everyone has equal rights and protection under the law. israel will never do this and has said as much. and the reason is because they would no longer have a jewish majority.

    the entire peace process has been an utter sham from day one. politicians advocating the “two state solution” are simply rubberstamping the status quo and enabling israel to build more settlements while blaming palestinians when they turn down the various crappy deals they’re offered.

  6. He’s walking on eggshells. You can tell he is kissing ass because he has to. The wording is very thought out, in an attempt to avoid offending Israel in any way. They are like these delusional spoiled brats. It just sickens me, and the whole thing makes me want to hate, and I really don’t want to be in that situation. The hate feelings always come with absolutes like ‘kill em all’ and that is the antithesis of what I want to promote. It just sucks that this politicized section of Israel (I guess it’s just Zionists?) create these complexities and exploit human weaknesses for just their own gain. Philosophically, I guess all life must exploit to survive, but why do Zionists stand out so much? I don’t think I’m nitpicking them or focusing more on their tactics than say a normal politician or judge or cop. Why does their method of exploitation get such a rise out of everyone?

    It’s a shame. We are ultimately enabling Israel to behave this way, we collectively approve of this behavior, as evidenced by this speech. So, we are also to blame somewhat.

    I guess what I want to ask, Scott, is how would you handle Israel better than Bernie? Bernie is all but done, an anti Israel stance would 100% destroy him. No way he could withstand even a casual air of dismay from them.

    So, given his situation right now, what could he possibly do better to survive? What if you found yourself in this situation, where you simply had to appease them or nothing would ever get done? That’s diplomacy right? I know your values, and what you stand for, but if you were to be President you certainly couldn’t go about things all black and white.

    I have no idea what I would do, or if I could do better. I’m just playing devil’s advocate I guess by saying it’s easy to say fuck Israel but if you were really a king or pres you would find yourself really in a bind, no?

    • I’m not sure what you read of mine, but the article clearly shows, Bernie has in fact given a big “f-you” to the Israeli lobby with that statement. He calls for nationally recognized borders, removal of settlers from the West Bank, and clearly he’s not advocating the Israelis get the whole of Jerusalem including that all important part, East Jerusalem, which just happens to be the capitol of Palestine.

      He does talk about “disproportionate” responses to the bottle rockets that fly over the wall and he does say that the crippling ebmargo on Gaza is killing people needlessly. And of course, he talks about the water rights in the West Bank which hardly any politicians would mention aside from Cynthia, and we see what happened to her.

      Yeah, he could have been more honest in his statement. But, he did take a swipe at Israel’s policies and apologists, so I do give him credit for that. He went a lot further than any other recent presidential candidate, so he gets props there. Like I said in the title, it’s tepid and moderated, but he did do it.

      As for the question about what I would do running for president: I don’t know. How can I answer that? If you ask me right now, of course I am going to tell the truth about what is happening in Palestine and Israel if I was running for president.

      Let me ask you a question: how is it that he tells the truth and the whole truth about the 1% and the billionaires that run this country (according to him) yet for some reason, we let him off the hook for only going so far when it comes to Israeli policies and crimes of aggression against the Palestinian people? In reality, there are FAR MORE pieces of evidence to prove what the IDF did during those three attacks on Gaza and the apartheid state they make the people of the West Bank live under. It should be far easier to make that point, and if Bernie is right and this country is run by the 1%, why is it that he’s able to speak real “truth to power” about them and yet he handles the subject of Israel with kid gloves?

      Just curious how you see that.

      My thing is, it’s not really even Zionists who are the problem here. It’s the fascist Likud Party and the fact that Israel seems to be completely in their grip. It’s like when the neocons ran this country (and may run it again once Killary “wins”) so I don’t really write that much about Zionism. Israel is a thing. It’s already there and is going no where. The problem is their fascist neoliberal economic policies and their fascist imperialist policies that are the problem, to me at least. Sure, some are Zionists. Some aren’t. The Likudniks… that’s the problem. to me at least.

      • Bernie is courting a different set of voters that are critical of Israel. But he’s full on pro Israel no matter what he says. He knows he’s just a temporary foil for our eventual president, Hillary. They all know this. It’s easier for a candidate to talk about today because more people are informed and Israel’s PR problem needs a pressure valve. Bernie is the pressure valve.

      • That’s exactly what I was saying!!

        I read your essay as a jab at Bernie especially when you said you would never vote for him after failing to mention the 1500 dead.

        I guess we both misinterpreted the fact that we pretty much see it the same way; Bernie’s an OK selection for president (I would go as far as to say the best we have seen in decades) but he’s probably too big of a pansy to effectively get anything done in regards to the most important issues.

        I would add that it appears his entire race is disingenuous at best. He doesn’t have any fire in him at all. IMO he acts like this is already done and he’s just going thru the motions.

        But could you imagine just four years of Bernie instead of the same old bush order? Who cares if he accomplishes one thing, as long as no other freedoms are taken away, it would be the best four years for America in my life

  7. At this point in time it does no one any good to expect Israel to not exist and to pack up and leave. It’s just not realistic. However a “two state solution” is not realistic either. The 67 borders were unfair and nonsensical from the get go. Why separate Gazans from their countrymen in the West Bank? It was balkanization in its inception.

    The only solution is a one state solution. However they do it is anyone’s guess. Bi national or one citizenship… I don’t know. But they have to live together in one state and try and forgive and live side by side.

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