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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bernie’s Israel speech is progress if not progressivism

By this point in the wearying presidential campaign in which Bernie Sanders’ citizen-funded revolution appears to be giving way to the Hillary Clinton Wall Street juggernaut, a cloud of cynicism is beginning to creep across the horizon.

We look to Bernie not as the dreamy “hope and change” candidate, but as someone who knows the score and has kept his balance firmly on the left since elected to public office. Through his tenacity, we drew hope.

It is not uncommon to begin counting small victories.

Like Sanders’ decision to skip the annual AIPAC genuflection, to which ambitious politicians flock for financial blessings and potential votes from the Jewish-Zionist sect, rabid Israel-apologists and Christian evangelicals who are counting on an Israel-driven catastrophe to fulfill their “second coming” apocalypse.

As if skipping the annual Zio-Con was not enough, Sanders proceeded to deliver a, if not pro-Palestinian, then definitely pro-justice talk remotely from Utah carried by ABC in which he uttered what has become the unthinkable in modern right wing pro-Israel, State Department hegemony politics: “Palestinian rights”.

“But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.”


Not since Obama’s first naive run at tackling the Israel Palestine conflict in the fledgling days of his presidency when he had the audacity to state (out loud no less) official US policy regarding the "1967 lines and mutual swaps."

The effective US policy is quite different. In fact, it is the opposite.

While Hillary called for “better tunnel detection” and maintenance of Israel’s “qualitative edge” via billions in US military aid, Sanders called on equitable sharing of resources, namely water, of which Israel controls 80 percent.

As if the divide between the two candidates were not already clear, Sanders mention of Palestinian self-determination and civil rights - a mention none of the hawkish three remaining Republican candidates or hawkish Clinton dared breath - sent the usual Israel-apologists into hyperdrive - most bearing the frayed and tattered flag of Palestinian rejectionism.

While Sanders’ modest proposal is not particularly progressive - George H.W. Bush after all, in what critics call a symbolic gesture, briefly withheld military loan guarantees as a tool to stop the settlements and jumpstart the peace process. Israel did attend the Madrid Peace Conference as a result; the settlements however, continued. 

 The reaction to Sander's modest proposal indicates how far right the political discourse on this issue has shifted in the post-Clinton I, post-Oslo Miracle Grow expansionism.

Israel-apologist on Democracy now!

“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 – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.”

While this is the general view of both the US and EU - that the settlements are illegal and not helpful to the “peace process” - the rhetoric has typically covered for increased settlement expansion the population of which has quadrupled since 1993 at the advent of the Oslo Accords.

It’s a commentary both on how far discourse has drifted away that Sanders’ comments are perceived as in any way controversial, but the US State Department has operated on a platform of doublespeak for decades - supporting Palestinian self-determination through rejection of both a Palestinian state and ending the Israeli occupation by vetoing various germane resolutions in the UN secretary council.

It is worth noting for the record the farcical nature of the Israel-apologist cries of Palestinian rejectionism, as explored in the concise work by Jeremy Hammond, The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination.
As noted, the Arab representatives reiterated something similar to what had been proposed at the conference in London a year earlier: a unitary Palestine with a democratic constitution guaranteeing full civil and religious rights for all citizens and an elected legislative assembly that would include Jewish representatives. UNSCOP dismissed this as “an extreme position”. In accordance with their adopted framework, the Arab proposal for a single democratic state was rejected as “extreme” because it didn’t take into account the desires of the Zionists, who rejected the idea. And yet the partition recommendation was not similarly “extreme” despite being “strongly opposed by Arabs”. The federal state solution, moreover, was simply “unworkable”, UNSCOP asserted in its majority recommendation, without discussion.”
Sadly these egregious, discriminatory and racist historical missteps cannot be undone. But if there is to be any significant understanding of the conflict and the US obligation to not only protect its strategic asset in the middle east - Israel is no democracy even within it’s borders; without, it is the most barbaric apartheid -  but the long overdue commitment to Palestinian self-determination in deeds, not just words.
“During one of its (UNSCOP's - United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) hearings, the Arab representatives expressed their view with regard to the Zionist “recourse to terrorism”, which was that “This aggressive attitude . . . will not fail to give rise in turn to the creation of similar [terrorist] organizations by the Arabs.” The Arab delegates also declared that “against a [Jewish] State established by violence, the Arab States will be obliged to use violence; that is a legitimate right of self-defence.”
We need not re-visit the ludicrous arguments posited by Zionist extremists through the decades concerning God’s generous real estate deal for Jews or how one injustice - the holocaust - does not justify another - ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Should we be surprised to learn the chief motivation of Palestinian militancy is not some inherent hatred of Arabs toward Jews or even Muslims toward Jews, but a simply case of a "legitimate right of self-defence”  as noted by Israeli historian Benny Morris in his book, Righteous Victims.
The fear of territorial displacement and dispossession was to be the chief motor of Arab antagonism to zionism down to 1948 (and indeed after 1967 as well).
When the question of the British Mandate over Palestine was discussed in Parliament in 1922, it became clear that opinion in the House of Lords was strongly opposed to the Balfour policy, as illustrated by the words of Lord Sydenham in reply to Lord Balfour.
 "... the harm done by dumping down an alien population upon an Arab country - Arab all around in the hinterland - may never be remedied ... what we have done is, by concessions, not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, to start a running sore in the East, and no one can tell how far that sore will extend."
From Bin Laden to ISIS - two Islamic terror groups that have noted the establishment of the state of Israel at the expense of Palestinian justice as motive - how far indeed the sore has extended.

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