Where exactly does Bernie Sanders, a Democratic party contender for the White House in 2016, stand on issues of the Middle East?
He is a secular socialist Jew who spent a few months volunteering on a kibbutz in the 1960’s and advocates socialist policies in Israel. But he cannot be considered a special friend of Israel.
He was the first Senator to boycott the speech of Prime Minister Netanyahu in the American Congress. He supported Israel’s war in Gaza in 2014 but vehemently criticizes its treatment of the Palestinians and Arabs in general.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Professor Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University in New York, said that while Sanders would support a Palestinian state, he would not be able successfully to overcome opposition from AIPAC, the powerful American-Israeli lobby in Washington.
Max Blumenthal has stated that Sanders, if elected, would concern himself mainly with domestic issues rather than international affairs.
Sanders opposes the settlement movement as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. He criticizes the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians for stubborn refusal to meet and to continue peace talks.
As a secular Jew, Bernie Sanders has no emotional ties to Israel and if elected, he would go out of his way to be “fair” and “neutral” in the Israel-Palestine dilemma.
It might be fair to say that his opponent, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has warmer ties with Israel and with Israeli political leaders.
Sanders’ in-depth knowledge of the Middle East is sorely lacking. He has no previous experience in dealing with foreign affairs and has no intellectual background of Israel’s past and present history.
In seeking to be impartial and not be labeled as a Jew who supports the Israeli cause, it is obvious that he will go out of his way to seek favor in the Arab world.
Bernie Sanders remains a big question mark. In truth, where does he stand on the Middle East?
Or does he stand at all?