Clockwise from top left: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders
ISRAEL’S OPERATION Protective Edge has killed almost 2,000 people in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, and laid waste to schools, hospitals, mosques and factories.
The savagery of the slaughter was met by growing international opposition to Israel and solidarity with Palestine. Even in the U.S., recent opinion polls showed a growing minority of Americans, including Jews, rejecting Israel’s war on Gaza. That minority includes a strong majority of people aged 18 to 29.
This global shift in opinion has been underway for some years. People are being swayed to support Palestine by Israel’s apartheid-like behavior: building an illegal separation wall in the West Bank, turning Gaza into an open-air concentration camp and conducting regular military assaults on the occupied territories.
Thanks to the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign—called for by Palestinians and mobilized by solidarity activists around the world–more and more people understand the reality that Israel is an apartheid state, and the cause of Palestinian liberation is simple justice.
But one political institution in the U.S. has stood completely unswayed by this evolving consciousness of the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel, with the support of its main international sponsor, the U.S. government.
That institution is the Democratic Party–including its liberal wing.
Like their counterparts in the two-party U.S. corporate political system, the Republicans and the Democrats never hesitated during the massacres in Gaza to reaffirm their unwavering support for Israel’s colonialism…
…The behavior of both parties during “Operation Protective Edge” has proven the rule.
The darlings of progressive activists, from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (a nominal independent who campaigns for Democrats and caucuses with them in the Senate), have made their commitments to wars about extraction clear. In the Senate vote on the pro-Israel resolution, none of the liberal stalwarts like Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, made a peep in opposition. The same was true in the House.
Warren’s position shocked her progressive supporters, who either had ignored or didn’t know about her support of Israel. Despite her Native American roots, she sides not with Palestine’s indigenous population, but with Israeli colonization.
On her Senate campaign website, for example, she said:
“As a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success. I believe Israel must maintain a qualitative military edge and defensible borders. The United States must continue to ensure that Israel can defend itself from terrorist organizations and hostile states, including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.”
The Democrats’ other new liberal lion, Bill de Blasio, outdoes Warren in pro-war proclamations.
During his election campaign, De Blasio promised, “City Hall will always be open to AIPAC.”
In a radio interview, he boasted that he opposed the “very, very wrongheaded movement to boycott, and dis-invest from Israel. I’ve led the charge against that, whether you’re talking about the Park Slope Food Co-op or at Brooklyn College, I’ve stood against that divestment movement.” During the current war on Gaza, he announced, “I consider it my responsibility to stand up for Israel.”
Just as disappointing has been the traditionally progressive Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report reported on how CBC members in the House and Senate betrayed Palestine in AIPAC-backed resolutions. As Dixon wrote:
Not a single member of the CBC, despite their much heralded brand of standing for civil rights and against apartheid here and around the world, bothered to publicly question the racist ethnocracy that is the Israeli state. After signing the blank check with the rest of their colleagues, CBC members Conyers (MI), Lee (CA), Johnson (GA) and Ellison (MN) tried to cover their shame with a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging a cease-fire, something which Kerry claims to have been doing anyway.
The self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders has done little better.
As left-wing Vermont writer Ron Jacobs noted, “Senator Sanders has voted for “grants and loans to Israel, even after Israel bombed Gaza, attacked the Mavi Marmara and supported illegal settlements in the West Bank.” When asked by reporters for his view of the current war on Gaza, Sanders evaded the question, stating, “That’s not where my mind is right now.”
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Despite his own claims, Sanders has not been an antiwar leader. Ever since he won election to the House, he has taken either equivocal positions on U.S. wars or outright supported them.
His hawkish positions — especially his decision to support Bill Clinton’s 1999 Kosovo War — drove one of his key advisers, Jeremy Brecher, to resign from his staff. Brecher wrote in his resignation letter, “Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support?”
So outraged were peace activists over Sanders’ support of the Kosovo War that they occupied his office in 1999. Sanders had them arrested. Under the Bush regime, Sanders’ militarism has only grown worse. While he called for alternative approaches to the war on Afghanistan, he failed to join the sole Democrat, Barbara Lee, to vote against Congress’ resolution that gave George Bush a blank check to launch war on any country he deemed connected to the September 11 attacks.
Ever since, he has voted for appropriations bills to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, despite their horrific toll on the occupied peoples as well as U.S. soldiers.
Sanders has been critical of the war on Iraq, but he has supported pro-war measures — such as a March 21, 2003, resolution stating,
“Congress expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the nation to the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.”
Sanders also opposes immediate withdrawal from Iraq, despite the fact that a majority of residents in his home city of Burlington voted for such a position in a town meeting resolution in February 2005.
… Sanders scuttled any action on a wave of Bush impeachment resolutions that swept Vermont towns in 2006. Like House Majority Leader-to-be Nancy Pelosi, who has promised not to impeach Bush, Sanders argued that impeachment was impractical, and that activists should put energy into electing Democrats.
This summer, Sanders voted for House Resolution 921, which gave full support to Israel’s murderous war on Lebanon. He also voted for HR 4681 that imposed sanctions on the Palestinian Authority with the aim of removing the democratically elected Hamas government.
In response, longtime War Resisters League leader, David McReynolds sent a public letter to Sanders, stating, “Because of your vote of support for the Israeli actions, I would hope any friends and contacts of mine would not send you funds, nor give you their votes.” Indeed, Sanders has consistently defended Israel through it worst crimes against Palestinians and Arabs. Unsurprisingly, some Sanders staffers have also worked with the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) — including David Sirota, now a Democratic Party strategist, and Sanders’ former communications director Joel Barkin.