That Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has a dim view of the State of Israel and its relations with the Palestinians is something well known to political observers. The same is true for his rival on the far-left wing of the Democratic candidates, Sen Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. However, where Warren has threatened to cut off aid to Israel unless it “negotiates seriously” with the Palestinians for a two-state solution, Sanders would go one unprecedented step farther.
According to The Times of Israel, “Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday that part of the $3.8 billion in annual US military assistance to Israel should instead go toward humanitarian relief in Gaza.”
Sanders was addressing the annual J Street national conference. He said, “It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government, or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”
As the National Review suggested, Sanders’ proposal is raising eyebrows across the world. The magazine of conservative opinion notes:
“The Gaza strip is run by the terrorist organization Hamas, which in May launched nearly 300 rockets into Israel. In July, Hamas official Fathi Hamad told Palestinians that ‘there are Jews everywhere! We must attack every Jew on planet Earth — we must slaughter and kill them, with Allah’s help. Enough warming up!’”
In other words, Bernie Sanders, a candidate for president of the United States, who is Jewish, is proposing to divert military aid from an American ally and the sole democracy in the Middle East and hand over part of it to a terrorist fiefdom that is dedicated to the obliteration of not only Israel but all Jews everywhere. It is as if an American politician during the 1940s called for the diversion of aid to Great Britain to Nazi Germany. No evidence exists that Sanders gets the irony.
Nikki Haley, who until recently was the ambassador to the United Nations, took to Twitter to call Sanders out on his proposal.
“Just when you thought Bernie Sanders couldn’t get any more radical, he outdid himself. He wants to take the money we give to Israel to defend itself from terrorists and give it to Gaza, which is run by terrorists?? Unreal. Why isn’t every other Dem pres candidate saying he’s wrong?”
Speaking of the other candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have expressed openness to using military aid to Israel to force that country to be more accommodating to the Palestinians. None of the Democrats have said what would happen if, as has been the case too frequently, either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank are unwilling to negotiate in good faith.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, has suggested that using military aid as leverage against Israel would be counter-productive.
One of the ironies concerning Sanders’ proposal, as the Washington Examiner reports, is that it constitutes a quid pro quo demand from Israel in return for aid. Sanders and other Democrats have excoriated President Trump for allegedly demanding a quid pro quo from Ukraine, in this case, an investigation of some of the alleged corrupt practices of former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter. The accusation has become the centerpiece of the current impeachment investigation being conducted by House Democrats.
It should be noted that Sanders claims that he is a supporter of the State of Israel’s right to exist, even going so far to wax nostalgic for his days of working on an Israeli kibbutz. “I spent many months on a kibbutz in Israel. I believe absolutely not only in the right of Israel to exist but the right to exist in peace and security. That’s not a question,”
However, Israel has long ago moved away from its socialist roots, It is building a market-based economy based on high technology. Israel has enjoyed considerable success becoming, what is in effect, the silicon valley of the Middle East, even though it is still obliged to maintain a large military.
Sanders remains a frequent critic of the Israeli government and its policies toward the Palestinians. He has even gone so far as to accuse Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of racism.