US Senator Bernie Sanders said the United States is “complicit” in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Sanders ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president for the 2016 election. He was the first Jewish candidate to win major party nominating contests, but it is not known if he will run again for the 2020 elections. While the self-proclaimed democratic socialist has spoken very little about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians during this election cycle, his rhetoric on the matter has remained consistent for the last 28 years.
At a town hall meeting with his constituents in August 2014, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was asked a question about the then-ongoing Israel-Hamas war.He had recently abstained in a vote on Senate Resolution 498, which expressed support for Israel defending itself against “unprovoked rocket attacks” from Hamas. Sanders was one of the 21 members who didn’t sign the unanimously passed resolution. When asked about his position on Israel’s conduct during the Gaza conflict, he replied, “Is anybody happy in this room or feel good about the kind of civilian deaths we’ve seen in Gaza? The answer is no,” Sanders told the crowd in Cabot, Vermont. “Has Israel overreacted? Have they bombed UN facilities? The answer is yes. That is terribly, terribly wrong in my mind. His belief on the matter clearly hasn’t changed as seen in one of his recent interviews.
When asked by reporter Mehdi Hasan, Sanders said he would consider voting to reduce the United States’ annual at least $3 billion in aid to Israel or reduce US arms sales to the Israeli military. In this foreign policy interview, Sanders also said that “in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the United States has got to play a much more evenhanded role. Clearly that is not the case right now.” He shows a blind eye to the fact that Israel is a much smaller country, with no other strong allies. Palestine has a number of countries and distributing support evenly from the US would simply give Palestinians an upper hand. He has previously stated that he is “not a great fan” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, being the only US presidential candidate from either party to have explicitly expressed disapproval of the Israeli premier. This being said, he certainly isn’t completely opposed to helping Israel.
Sanders believes in a two-state solution and hopes that the United States will help work with the international community to end the blockade of Gaza, resolve the dispute over the borders of the West Bank, and allow “both the Israeli and Palestinian people to live in peace.” Bernie condemns the use of violence by both sides to gain an upperhand in peace negotiations.He believes that there has been little progress in the conflict over the decades because both sides have resorted to “empty rhetoric and violence” instead of confronting the challenges head-on.
All this being said, it is important to understand that US support to Israel is essential and regardless of the Senator’s born religion, he is not a completely accountable source on the matter. While a two-state solution would be a possible solution to the multitude of issues regarding Israel, reducing funding would simply add to the list. Bernie Sanders is an esteemed politician with vast knowledge, but there are certainly faults to his arguments