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Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.

And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…

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Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”

(APPLAUSE)

What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?

Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.

(APPLAUSE)

But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.

Heckler: Free Palestine!

Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.

That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…

Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…

Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?

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Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…

(APPLAUSE)

Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.

(APPLAUSE)

They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.

So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.

(APPLAUSE)

That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…

Blitzer: … Thank you…

Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.

Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.

And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?

I believe that it was, you have not answered that.

(CHEERING)

Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.

Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.

So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.

Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator.

Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.

(APPLAUSE)

Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.

That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.

Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.

There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.

I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.

(APPLAUSE)

Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.

Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.

(APPLAUSE)

Clinton: Well…

Blitzer: Secretary.

Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.

If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.

Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.

Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.

All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.

Blitzer: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Secretary.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. I'd say that Bernie Sanders is about as scary as David Ben Gurion. Maybe the Jews that fled from Israel to the U.S. under Ben Gurion in the 40's & 50's will flee to Israel from America under whoever it is that becomes the next president, and even bring some of their cousins with them.

  2. Un-Jews for Bernie, normal Jews for Trump. When a Jew stands up to the world and claims 'other nations' agree with him, Israel acted 'disproportionately' against terrorists. This Jew goes to sleep all warm and fuzzy knowing, Iran, the UK, Germany, Turkey, North Korea, Sweden, Norway etc. etc. etc. are on his side. The un-Jews have reached a new low.

  3. mr sanders is clearly a captive of the "new left" and has an atipathy towards Israel and its needs for security

    but defiling the memory of Ben Gurion, who slaved for years to build the state of Israel, shows that your grasp of history was formed in the bowels of some "yeshivish" rumor-mill rather than by reference to facts

    Ben Gurion has no peer in modern Jewish history

  4. Sanders was, and always will be, New-Left first and Jew second (or maybe 3rd or 11th)

    Bernie's lack of perspective on the realities on the ground at the Gaza-Sderot border makes him a captive of the "blame Israel" rhetoric; Ms Clinton clearly shows a far better understanding of the facts.

  5. Ch Hoffman : You really do not know what Ben Gurion was like and apparently have little knowledge of the early history of the State of Israel. Ben Gurion was leader of the Marxist Ahdut HaAvoda party. It later became the Mapai Party complete with a modified sickle and hammar symbol. Heres the link for a picture.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/84/Mapaisymbol.PNG

    The ally of Mapai was Mapam, which was staunchly pro-Stalin. Both were virulently anti-religous. The Hagana, his military wing, murdered Dr. Jacob Israel de Haan of the Eida Chareidis. I'd reckon the concern about the leftist regime as exagerated. Never the less a significant number or religious Jews left. Perth Amboy NJ had enough to be called "Little Jerusalem". Things like food rationing, living in tents, and a simmering geurilla war with the Arabs also were factors.

    I don't consider Bernie Sanders as dangerous. Never the less the comparison to Ben Gurion is an apt one. Having lived in Israel for thirty years, I know the place is far from perfect, and as such I am not greatly enthusiastic about recommending the American Jews mover here. Never the less the issues of anti-Semitism as well as political and economic instability in America are now on the radar. Israel is now sufficiently economically advanced to be an alternative. I'd say politically a Jew is probably better off here. If some Jews make aliya because Sanders said "Boo", I'd say he did them a favor.

    If you're looking for an Israeli hero of that period you may try Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.

  6. believes Israel's response in the 2014 Gaza war was "disproportionate."
    ====================
    No HIS country's war in Iraq, which by the way never shot one bullet into the US was and still is "disproportionate."

  7. Indeed, that he can not understand, what would they look like had they use the many aid they received and build a beautiful country….. well they (Palestinians Aut. at the end of the day, they do not want peace) need to up-rise against their leadership, not Israel. Shame on you Mr. Sanders you have no clue on Israel/Palestinians conflict …..

  8. Yoseph Schreiber keep your hatred to yourself; BG may not have been a tzaddik, but he was no marxist.

    It's to BG that the State of Israel owes much of its early political and military success; revisionist history notwithstanding, without BG, the Jews of the yishuv would have been without a unifying leader.

    And nobody from the eida charedis or any other black-bearded group was ever in the position to provide leadership beyond making havdalah

  9. Both Dems , and of course, Obama, have not only dissed Israel but have undermined the USA militarily. Wall St. is not the issue Americans are concerned about. Borders, migrants, Islamists, war, tax and spending which all Dems have allowed to happen on a daily level. They are both proto-commies.

  10. Ch Hoffman : Thank you for your amusing reply. One need not be a screwball to live in Israel, but sometimes it really does help.

    The far left is very large here, I’d say above 40 per cent of the Jewish population. I have severe doubts about bringing in more of them from the United States. Never the less there are members of my family, who I love dearly, that hold those points of view, and I tend to think that they would be better off in the land of Israel.

    It would seem that as a youth Ben Gurion did embrace the writings of Marx somewhat, but they significantly waned in appeal as he grew older. The communists though were not entirely wrong and I’d reckon Israel’s quasi socialist medicine system superior to the health care delivery system in the United States. It is better to have all doctors trained by the top professionals in the system then to let them independently pursue continuing medical education. It’s also more convenient to get a blood test at your clinic then to travel to an independent lab. There is also a graduated “tax” to pay for it. People on public assistance pay nothing and receive full health benefits.

    Bernie Sanders to his credit did spend a significant amount of time in Israel and admits that he has relatives here. It would be interesting, though, to know the last time he talked to them.

    In terms of modern Jewish history Ben Gurion does not reach the ankles of The Chazon Ish or even Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, and certainly not Adin Steinsaltz or the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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