No ‘revolution’ without Palestine: A letter to Bernie Sanders


US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a Our Revolution rally in Boston, Massachusetts, US, March 31, 2017 PHOTO/File: Mary Schwal/Reuters

To inspire a real, grassroots ‘political revolution’, Sanders needs to confront his complicity in Zionist criminality.

On Tuesday, November 12, Israeli forces assassinated Islamic Jihad Commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife, in their home in the besieged Gaza strip.

In response, Palestinian fighters fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, injuring tens of people, forcing the closure of roads and damaging civilian property. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a transparently politically motivated attack on Gaza, which killed 34 Palestinians in two days, including eight members of the same family.

On November 18, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US now considers Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to be legal, in contrast to international law and consensus.

These events constitute the latest episode of assaults on the Palestinian people by the settler colonialist dynamic duo – Israel and the United States.

Statements on Twitter by Democratic candidates for president, Joe Biden and Pete Buttegieg were in line with the traditional Zionist, pro-Israel bias of their party, essentially victim-blaming Palestinians, while ignoring the true timing of events, relevant international law and basic human decency. 

The responses from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were somewhat more nuanced, acknowledging Palestinian suffering, yet presenting the events within typical liberal Zionist false equivalency between the Israeli occupiers and the besieged, disenfranchised and occupied Palestinians. Warren’s tweet came only 14 minutes after Sanders’ and with identical talking points, suggesting the former is taking cues from the latter. Further, Warren’s response was consistent with her blatantly hawkish foreign policy agenda, which has included the usual Zionist racist narrative.

Bernie Sanders and Palestine 

Sanders has received considerable support from prominent Palestinians. In fact, within a bi-partisan, imperialist, pro-Israel consensus, Sanders demonstrates the most favourable views on Palestine and other foreign policy issues, though his record generally conforms to interests of the American empire. 

Remarkably, the Jewish American Senator from Vermont suggested US military aid should be leveraged to end abuses of Palestinians within the OPT. Further, he voiced opposition to Pompeo’s recent reversal of US policy with respect to settlements in the OPT. Nevertheless, Sanders’ unsustainable liberal Zionist positions are riddled with reactionary historical revisionism, as laid out in his most recent editorial, constituting a dangerous and potentially losing strategy approaching the 2020 elections. 

In his op-ed and various speaking engagements, Sanders fails to acknowledge the Christian, white supremacist and settler colonialist roots of Zionism, as detailed by anti-Zionist Jews, among others. Instead, he promotes the revisionist notion that Israel was founded on progressive values and embodies Jewish “self-determination”, with the Netanyahu government constituting a racist, right-wing aberration, instead of another chapter in the ongoing collaboration between Zionists and anti-Semites.

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