Burned! With Friends Like Sanders Who Needs Enemies

Like all of the current presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle Bernie Sanders was invited to speak at the recent AIPAC conference. Unlike all of the other presidential candidates, Sanders declined that invitation, claiming he couldn’t find the time in his busy schedule to fit a 20 minute speech into a 3 day conference.

Instead of delivering a speech about his views on the Middle East to a group of people that genuinely care about Israel’s safety and the importance of the American-Israel relationship, Sanders chose to deliver his address from a campaign stop, knowing that would be a much friendlier audience to his mendacious speech about Israel and the Middle East than the audience at AIPAC.

While the speech was breathtaking in the many ways Sanders demonstrated his utter lack of understanding of the history of the Middle East and of the many conflicts and challenges facing the U.S.A and its allies in the region, what was truly offensive about it was how Sanders tried to sugarcoat his delivery of numerous malicious lies and tropes of both the radical left and far-right about Israel with his claims of friendship for Israel and about his supposed close connections to Israel.

Sanders started off his speech by saying: “Let me begin by saying that I think I am probably the only candidate for president who has personal ties with Israel. I spent a number of months there when I was a young man on a kibbutz, so I know a little bit about Israel.” Certainly, that is comforting; Sanders “knows a little bit about Israel.” He should also have made it clear that the kibbutz he stayed at almost 53 years ago, Sha’ar HaAmakim, was a kibbutz officially affiliated with Mapam, a political party to the left of the socialist Labor Party. Sha’ar HaAmakim’s founders openly admired the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and they proudly flew the Communist red flag at all kibbutz events. Based on Sanders’ actions since 1963, including his 1988 honeymoon in the Soviet Union, and his decision – as the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont – to make Burlington the “sister city” of Communist Sandinista ruled Puerta Cabezas, Nicaragua, and of Yaroslavl, Russia, it appears that the main lessons Sanders learned from his brief stint on a far-left kibbutz was to admire communal or state control of the means of production, and not much about either Israel or the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

After he attempted to establish his bona fides as a kibbutz visiting “friend of Israel,” Sanders then asserted that it is important to be “honest and truthful” with your friends, and proceeded to deliver a series of utterly dishonest and misleading claims about Israel. Lies one would expect from a representative of SJP or perhaps one of the far-left turncoats at Code Pink or the misleadingly named Jewish Voices For Peace, but certainly not from a “friend of Israel.”

Sanders first felt obligated in his speech to speak the “truth” about the 44% unemployment rate in Gaza and a “poverty rate [in Gaza] that is almost as high” implying that this poverty is somehow Israel’s fault, even though Gaza is 100% controlled by Hamas and there are over 1700 Hamas millionaires in Gaza and Hamas strongman, Khaled Mashaal, is worth an estimated $2.6 Billion! Perhaps instead of railing against America’s millionaires and billionaires, who mainly got rich by starting companies and creating jobs, Sanders could turn his ire towards terrorist leaders who get rich by stealing U.S., EU, and U.N. aid money.

After he provided his misleading commentary on poverty and unemployment in Gaza, Sanders, like most of the far-left in Europe and America, decided to adopt the ahistorical and unlawful claim that Jews living in Judea are “occupying Palestinian territory” and that “peace” will require forcing Jews to move out of their indigenous homeland in Judea. Specifically, Sanders asserted that: “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…”

As a preliminary matter, this statement is obnoxious and noxious because: (a) the experience of the last 20 years should lead any rational person to conclude that the last thing one should expect to result from Israel pulling out of any territory is “peace” (in that every inch of territory Israel has relinquished in the name of “peace” has been taken over by extremists and become a launching pad for terror); and (b) if Israel did take Sanders’ advice and completely pull out of Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank”) that territory would almost immediately be taken over by Hamas (or perhaps even ISIS), which both enjoy tremendous support among the “Palestinians.”

This statement is also obnoxious and noxious, particularly coming from a supposed “friend of Israel,” because like all of the “blame Israel first crowd” and the bigots who simply assume the worst of Arabs while applying impossible standards of behavior to Israel, Sanders believes that roughly 300,000 Jews living on less than 2% of the land in Judea and Samaria is somehow a dire obstacle to peace, while 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel is just hunky-dory.

The worst thing, however, about Sanders’ misguided assertion that peace will come about when Judea and Samaria become Judenrein or Judenfrei is his automatic and ahistorical conclusion that Judea and Samaria are somehow “Palestinian territory.”

While this may certainly be part of the talking points of the PLO, Hamas, SJP and others, and while it certainly does prove Goebbels’ and the National Socialists German Workers Party’s point about the benefits of often repeating a lie, the fact is that Judea and Samaria are part of the heartland of the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people and are certainly not “Palestinian territory.” As a “friend of Israel” (and not just a friend of the fringe far-left Stalin admiring socialists he hung out with in 1963 while bashing the “man” at Kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim) I would expect Sanders to know how integral Judea and Samaria are to the Jewish people, and how utterly false and harmful it is to assert this land is anyone else’s territory.

Of course, Sanders is no true “friend of Israel” and he knows no such thing. Apparently, Sanders never learned while he was hanging out for one summer at the People’s Republic of Sha’ar HaAmakim, that Jews are from Judea and that Arabs are from (surprise) Arabia.  Sanders also apparently never learned that after the Arabs spread out from Arabia to conquer and colonize much of the Middle East and North Africa, they brutally imposed their culture and language and (like many colonialists) required special tributes from any indigenous peoples that did not wholly give up their way of life and culture.

Some other inconvenient facts that Sanders ignores when he claims that Jews can’t live in Judea (in the name of “peace”):

1- Judea-Samaria and Jerusalem are part of the area designated by the Mandate for Palestine for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish People only. That status of the land has never legally been changed. The Mandate – enacted in international law by the League of Nations was preceded by the San Remo Conference, which followed the Sykes-Picot agreement, which established most of the current Arab states that exist today, though you never hear anyone in the UN calling those countries “illegitimate” or arguing that those countries should relinquish land within their current borders.

2 – When the Palestine Mandate was created (out of the former Haifa, Jerusalem and Damascus provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which by 1917 had ruled the region for approximately 400 years) it included what is today the country of Jordan (76% of the Palestine Mandate), which the British unilaterally partitioned off in 1923 when they created another Arab state out of the former Ottoman Empire (in addition to Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq).

3 – Resolutions from the UN General Assembly have no weight in international law.  As a result, UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, which called for the division of the remainder of the Palestine Mandate (after 76% of it had already been given to the Arabs in 1923) into a state for the Jews and a (then 15th) state for the Arabs – frequently called the “partition plan” – was only a recommendation (that the Arabs rejected), and it in no way changed the legal status of the Palestine Mandate.

4 – What is often called the “1967 border” was not a legal border. It was an armistice line, and goes back to 1949 after the first Arab war for the annihilation of Israel failed.  At the end of Israel’s War of Independence, a line was drawn where the Israeli troops and the Jordanian troops stopped fighting.  This armistice line (also known as the “Green Line”) was established in the 1949 armistice agreement reached between Israel and Jordan.

5 – As for this armistice agreement: there was a clause in it – which Jordan insisted on  – saying that this line was not permanent and did not prejudice future establishment of a permanent border, which would be determined in negotiations.  The negotiations were to be between Israel and Jordan – there was no mention of a “Palestinian people,” and no reference to a Palestinian state.

6 – The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964, three years before the Six Day War, when Israel took Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian rule (after Jordan had conquered those areas in 1948 after it invaded Israel in a self-described “war of annihilation.”  In 1964, all of Israel was within the “Green Line.” So, every thinking person knows exactly what the PLO was planning on “liberating.”

7 – In 1964, when the PLO charter was established, it specifically said it had no claim against Jordan with regard to Judea and Samaria, which Jordan occupied – that is, the newly minted PLO in 1964 had no claim that Judea and Samaria were to be used for establishment of a “Palestinian state.”  It was only after the Six Day War, when Israel had Judea and Samaria (as a result of its defensive war against Jordan), that the PLO decided to claim Judea and Samaria was (in addition to the rest of Israel) land for a Palestinian state.

In his prevaricating speech, Sanders ignores all of these facts and history and jumps right to the conclusion that “peace” can only be achieved if Jews are forced out of their homes in Judea and Samaria.  Sadly, this is not even close to the worst lie told by Sanders during his Middle East Policy speech. Having dumped all over the Jewish people’s rights in their indigenous homeland, Sanders then went out and repeated a heinous defamation straight out of the SJP playbook, that Israel steals water from “Palestinians.” Sanders also claimed that: “Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land.” What a crock! Sanders might as well claim that Israel harvests the organs of Arab children; that Jews use the blood of Muslim children for Passover matzo; that Israel sterilizes Ethiopian women; or any of the numerous other crazy things that the anti-Semitic Israel-haters perniciously assert.

Here are the “water” facts:

In the 1930’s the British concluded, after doing a detailed water study, that the eastern portion of the Palestine Mandate (what is today Israel, including all of the disputed territories) could only sustain up to 2 million people by the turn of the 21st Century due to the scarcity of water in the region. Today, with half the rainfall it had in 1948, and approximately 6 times the population (including roughly 5 million Arabs), the area has a water surplus. This surplus is solely because of Israeli ingenuity and water technology.

Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, under the control of the Palestinian Authority, consume on average 95 cubic meters per capita per year of fresh water and they have 125 cubic meters per capita per year of fresh water available to them. Israel directly supplies 30 cubic meters of this fresh water to them. Due to its incredible advances in water technology (desalinization, water recycling, drip irrigation, etc.) Israel also provides Jordan with 40 million cubic meters of fresh water per year. Thus, if it wasn’t for Israel, the Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Jordan (whose population is overwhelmingly made up Arabs that today self-identify as “Palestinian”) would not have anywhere near the fresh water they currently have. It is also noteworthy that while Israel engages in many efforts at water conservation and reclamation, the Palestinian Authority engages in none, and though it has received billions of dollars in international aid and per capita more aid money than any group of earth, the Palestinian Authority recycled zero percent of its waste water as of 2012 (compared to Israel’s 80%) and it also loses 33% of its fresh water supply largely due to leaks (caused by poor maintenance).

The Palestinian Authority Unity Terrorist government have also refused to irrigate their fields with recycled water (as Israel does) and have failed to implement any of the numerous other water saving techniques developed by Israel and offered to them. If they did, they would easily increase the amount of fresh water available to the people living under their control by 50%. Instead they rather make false claims about Israel stealing or controlling “their water” when they live in one of the few places in the Middle East (other than the very oil rich Gulf States) where safe, drinkable tap water exists in almost 100% of homes.

That such libels are repeated by kleptocratic Hamas and Fatah terrorist leaders (and their supporters) is not surprising, but to hear this as part of the Middle East policy speech by a leading candidate for President of the United States… is both shocking and frightening.

After adopting the “water libel” of the Israel haters, Sanders moved on in his speech to the next big libel regularly espoused by those that wish to destroy the world’s only Jewish state’s ability to defend itself, the “disproportionate response” libel.

First, Sanders made the incredible statement that peace “includes Israel ending disproportionate responses to being attacked.” So apparently in the bizarro world that Bernie Sanders lives in, the “peace” is only breached when Israel responds “disproportionately” to being attacked.

Then after providing a pro-forma criticism of Hamas indiscriminately launching thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars into Israel and launching attacks against Israel from terror tunnels that Hamas builds with the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money it diverts to try and fulfill the goals of its genocidal Charter, Sanders added: “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.”

Setting aside that no true “supporters of Israel” would ever use such language, Sanders claims are 100% wrong.

As an initial matter, the legal standard of proportionality in the law of armed conflict has nothing to do with equal levels of suffering and it does not require that more Jews should die. If it did, then the Allies in WWII would have been grossly “disproportionate” in response to the Nazis; and nobody would ever win any war and all armed conflict would go on indefinitely.  Moreover, as a matter of international law Israel has an unqualified right to protect its citizens; and Hamas is plainly guilty of violating the Hague Conventions, which prohibit the use of human shields and the firing of rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians from within or next to schools, hospitals and mosques (all of which has been standard operating procedure for the terrorists attacking Israel from Gaza).

Sanders’ speech also failed to acknowledge all of the efforts Israel undertook in the last Gaza war to avoid civilian casualties. Efforts undertaken by no other military in the world! Sanders’ deceptive speech  ignored that a year ago (on March 12, 2015) a task force of several retired American military officials—headed by General Charles Wald, former deputy commander of the United States European Command, as well as numerous legal and international affairs experts, concluded that Israel “systemically applied established rules of conduct that adhered to or exceeded the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) in a virtually unprecedented effort to avoid inflicting civilian casualties, even when doing so would have been lawfully permitted…” The task force also  praised the Israeli Army for taking “extraordinary and innovative methods” to minimize civilian casualties, including: “maximizing the use of precision-guided munitions; selecting the lowest acceptable yield explosives; warning civilians with leaflets, text messages, telephone calls and radio transmissions to leave a defined area of operations or to seek shelter; assisting with the evacuation of civilians; firing smoke and illumination rounds prior to the use of explosive munitions in order to encourage civilian evacuation; and most notably, dropping a small, non-lethal explosive at an unoccupied corner of a structure to provide a ‘knock on the roof’ warning of an impending strike.”

Instead of behaving like a true “friend of Israel” and reminding the public of all of these unprecedented methods used by Israel to protect civilians in Gaza (who overwhelmingly support Hamas’ desire to “wipe Israel off the map”) Sanders chose to slander Israel. In addition to repeating the “disproportionate” lie, and providing no context for why Israel at times had to bomb “hospitals and schools,” which were being used by Hamas to launch rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians, Sanders also elected to use the civilian casualty figures provided to the UN by Hamas (which apparently Sanders trusts). The reality is that no modern army has ever had a better civilian to combatant casualty ratio than Israel’s in the 2014 war in Gaza. Notably Hamas initially reported every death in Gaza caused by its indiscriminate attacks on Israel as “civilian.” All credible studies, however, indicate that the civilian to combatant casualty ratio in Gaza was 1:1 (meaning that despite fighting an asymmetrical war against an un-uniformed enemy that fights from within and among civilians in mainly crowded urban settings, approximately half of the causalities in Gaza were Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists).

Sanders of course did not mention any of these facts in his duplicitous speech. He also did not mention that during the Iraq war from 2003 through 2010 that the American and British militaries had a 3:1 civilian to combatant casualty ratio, or that after the war in Gaza had started (on July 8, 2014) that Israel continued to provide Gaza with electricity, and allowed 959 tons of medicine and nearly 5,500 trucks carrying consumer goods to be delivered to Gaza all while Hamas continued to rain rockets and missiles on Israeli civilians. Sanders could have mentioned any of these facts. That he chose to ignore them all speaks volumes.

Sanders concluded his speech on the Middle East by engaging in the most common fallacy of the far-left when it comes to America and Israel and their respective enemies, what I call the “Both Sides” fallacy. According to Sanders: “The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace, and the other truth is there are despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism.”

If Sanders really believes this nonsense, and cannot see the difference between the democratically elected leaders of Israel and the dictators, kleptocrats and jihadist terrorists that control the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, or understand how inherently different and better democratic Israel is compared to its autocratic and jihadist enemies, then that demonstrates how truly dangerous Sanders is for both Israel and America, and that he has not changed much from his early days of admiring the Sandinista and the Soviets. And with friends like that, who needs enemies.

About the Author
Micha Danzig is a practicing attorney in San Diego and board member of T.E.A.M. (Training & Education About the Middle East). He is also active with Stand With Us and a former soldier in the IDF.
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