At the recent J Street conference, Bernie Sanders outlined an Israel policy that raises several questions. I’m not one of the moderators at the Democratic debates, but if I were, I would ask him:
Senator Sanders, when you visited an Israeli kibbutz in 1963, how many Israeli settlements were there? The answer is zero, which leads me to my next question: If there were no settlements, and the land that the Palestinians want for their state was in Arab hands, why wasn’t a Palestinian state formed then and why wasn’t there peace with Israel?
Furthermore, two Israeli prime ministers – Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert – offered the Palestinians more than 90 percent of the land they ostensibly want for their state. They responded by launching a war of terror. Given these facts, why do you insist that the settlements are an obstacle to peace?
Moving on to aid for Israel: Senator Sanders, you have insisted that you are committed to Israel’s security, yet you keep threatening to reduce the military aid package negotiated with Israel by the Obama administration. Given that you also want to reinstate the Iran deal, which would mean billions of dollars for Iran, in what sense can you say Israel’s security is important to you?
A follow-up: Since the 3.8 billion dollars we give to Israel each year is spent here in the United States, what do you have to say to the workers whose jobs will disappear when you cut Israeli military aide?
On Israeli and Palestinian leadership: Senator Sanders, despite the fact that Arabs living in Israel have more rights than their counterparts in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the territories controlled by the PA or Hamas, you have on many occasions called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a racist. Palestinian President Abbas has repeatedly said he would not allow Jews to live in his Palestinian state. Isn’t that racist? If it is, why have you never called Abbas that word?
Likewise, Hamas’ charter calls for eliminating the Jews. Isn’t that racist? If it is, why haven’t you ever used that word to describe a Hamas leader? Why do you only use it for Netanyahu?
On aid to the Palestinians: Senator Sanders, President Trump cut aid to the PA because of its insistence on monetarily rewarding convicted Palestinian terrorists. Hamas also took funds that were supposed to build schools and hospitals and used them to build terror tunnels and fire 11,000 rockets at Israeli civilian targets. Yet, you want to restore aid to both the PA and Hamas. Do you approve of rewarding terrorists? How would you ensure that humanitarian aid is actually used for humanitarian purposes?
Finally, Senator Sanders, you seem to blame dire conditions in Gaza on Israel. Yet, Israel withdrew from Gaza almost 15 years ago, and it has been under Palestinian rule since then. Isn’t blaming Israel for problems in Gaza kind of like blaming England for problems in the United States?
Well, those are my questions. I look forward to the senator answering any of them.