April 8, 2016

Bernie-Come-Lately does no favors for Mideast peace

Bernie Sanders' recent missteps on Israel and Gaza are disturbing for a few reasons.

First, he was asked about the topic because he's repeatedly mentioned his concerns about Israeli policies and use of force. A serious politician would have known the difference between 10,000 killed and 10,000 injured Palestinians, and a principled politician would have accepted being corrected (after literally asking for it) -- yet Senator Sanders then countered it was even more than 10,000, and implied they were all innocent

On other occasions, I've expressed my own concerns about Israeli actions, including in Gaza. Sen. Sanders is the most visible critic of such policies, and by implication he's the test case for a progressive solution to the Palestinian issue. The fact that he pushes so hard on Israel's buttons without even a sense of the scale of the conflict undermines the credibility for the rest of us, who really put ourselves on the line with friends and the powers that be.

On a more personal note, I've been seeing the relentless defensive tactics of Sen. Sanders and his apologists, most directly (and also directed at me) on social media. This includes questioning my sophistication, challenging my motivations, misrepresenting my arguments, and dismissing the relevance or significance of The Bern's inaccurate, self-righteous and counter-productive complaint against Israel. I've been accused of being an AIPAC stooge and not caring about Palestinian lives, all because I refuse to be satisfied with the Sanders retort that the number wasn’t what’s important…

Accountability, it seems, is only to be demanded of those remaining outside the Sanders camp. The left-wing peace movement is rallying behind him, especially on this point, which unfortunately suggests that -- like Sen. Sanders -- these groups are more interested in scoring points with their home base rather than with convincing anyone else, or with effecting substantive change over the long haul. 

Not that I'm shocked by any of this, but it would have been nice to see some statesmanship.

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