Saturday, April 16, 2016

Let us not get too excited about Bernie Sanders after the Brooklyn Debate

I think that some of the pro-Palestinian community in the West are getting way too excited about Bernie Sanders after his performance in the debate.  Let us restate the facts as he defined his own views during the debate: 1) he says he is %100 pro-Israel.  He did not leave even 1% for chance.  2) He believes that Israel has "the right to defend itself", which since 1948 has been a Western Zionist license for Israel to commit war crimes and massacres at will. 3) The only bad words Sanders has uttered about Netanyahu are: "I am not a great fan of Netanyahu", and that "Netanyahu is not right all the time".  How this passes as criticisms of Netanyahu is beyond me. 4) He like all other Western Zionists talk about security strictly in terms of Israel, even if he believes that the Palestinians deserve a solution to their economic problems--as if Palestinian resistance has been about unemployment.  4) The thrust for his position about Arab-Israeli peace is what is good for Israel.  That is his motive.  5) to speak of a Palestinian state or of a two-state (non)solution is not earth-shattering: George W. Bush and a segment of the Likud speak of that as well.  Why is not considered important. 6) This is a man who for the interest of Israel speaks glowing about the Kind of Jordan although he believes that Arab Sunni states should do more to share the burden of imperial wars in the Middle East.  Look: it was not courageous on the part of Sanders to utter the words he uttered: to understand this point remember that Sanders was cheered every time he mentioned the Palestinian people.  The Democratic Party has changed and it has become like the Socialist Party of France or the Labor Party of UK: the base (especially among the college aged) are pro-Palestinian while the leadership of the party remains solidly pro-Zionist.  So Sanders, knowing that he won't be president, can safely ride the tide of the enthusiasm of the college youth.  And to speak about "even-handedness" is not that earth shattering: and he spoke about even-handedness while declaring that he is "100% pro-Israel".  Sanders position on Palestine reminds one of the stance of Trump: who also stated that he would be "neutral" about Arab-Israeli conflict while painting that there is no one more pro-Israel than he is.  And all pro-Israeli US candidates speak of Gaza in terms of the terrorism of Hamas and its fire crackers rockets without even considering that Hamas and Palestinians in general are the ones engaged in self defense and not vice versa.  None of those Zionist candidates question the biased premises of Sanders and Hillary and the Republican candidates.  The term "even-handedness" was a cliche terms used by Arabists at the US Department of State until the era of Ronald Reagan, and it was feature of Republican criticisms before the Reagan era.  Go back to the statements of Richard Nixon before he ran for office in 1968: he also spoke about the need for an even-handed US policy in the Middle East, and I think he said that in 1964 during a visit to Egypt when he observed that the pyramids are very big indeed.  And this is not the first time in a presidential campaign that a major candidate violated the talking points of AIPAC: Jesse Jackson did so in 1988 and George McGovern did so also in 1984.  Obama said in his 2008 campaign that no one suffered more than the Palestinian people but then explained that he had meant that the Palestinians suffered because of their own mistakes and crimes.  If Bernie were to become a major presidential candidate with viable options, he would also explain that what he meant by even-handedness is the need for US to be even more pro-Israel.  Look: the Western liberal parties are experiencing a crisis (I write about that in Arabic in my article for Al-Akhbar): the liberal base is at odds with the party establishment not only in terms of foreign policy but also even in terms of economic policies. This explains the rise of Sanders or the election of Corbyn in UK (in Canada there was exuberance displayed among the college aged youth for Trudeau not because he presented liberal programs but because he "looked like a true liberal" and his photo opps seemed to the left of his party's recent record).   If by a miracle Sanders becomes the nominee of his party, he would quickly stick to the party line of AIPAC word-for-word.  I have seen some presidential candidates who initially uttered spontaneous declarations about Palestine only to be reigned in later by the AIPAC establishment.  Dukakis initially spoke spontaneously in 1988 but the party establishment quickly brought in AIPAC man, Martin Indyks who quickly became the AIPAC enforcers for every Democratic presidential candidate since.  But the status of major party rhetoric on Palestine is so abysmal that people in the pro-palestinian community actually cheer and jump up and down when one candidate in a moment of unrestrained conversation declares that the Palestinian people are humans although many of them are terrorists who scare and intimidate Israel.

PS And look at the Greek case of Syriza: which is part of the "radical left" and not the liberal left as in Bernie Sanders case.  Syriza started as part of the radical leftists position on Palestine and within a year established one of the strongest economic and political and security alliance with the Israeli occupation state (and there are accusations that Greece now spies on behalf of Israel at the EU--even if this started earlier it continues).  I remember when Greek defense minister visited Israel last year, I was told that this does not count as he was representative of the right in the ruling coalition, as if the defense minister acts without the consent of the government as a whole.  Look: All European parties (left and center and right) will follow US foreign policy dictates on Israel once they reach power.  Make no illusions about that especially that World Bank and IMF also conspire with US Zionist plotting.