How Bernie Sanders Became a Fighter for Palestine - Steve Salaita
In short, Sanders is similar to his opponents around Palestine, but his reputation around Palestine is far better. That reputation doesn’t correspond to the substance of his legislative history or his public comments. Supporters project onto him what they hope or assume he’ll do, but hasn’t done throughout his long career in office. The myth of Sanders being “good” or “the best” has made it so that supporting him isn’t merely a pragmatic concession; it can now be passed off as devotion to Palestine.
Try to extricate yourself from the hullabaloo of electoralism and consider a straightforward question: when have we ever witnessed Bernie Sanders fighting for Palestinians? Many of his supporters have taken up the fight, but Sanders hasn’t joined them. Instead, he gestures toward vague ideals of justice without committing to what Palestinians in struggle repeatedly profess to be their version of freedom (the right of return and equality in their ancestral homeland). He’s happy to let supporters fill the vagueness with their own suppositions.
Was Sanders fighting for Palestinian rights when he fondly recalled living on a kibbutz (in other words, a racialized settlement)? When he voted in favor of a Senate resolution (introduced by Mitch McConnell) that recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital? When he yelled at constituents protesting the war crimes Israel was committing with weapons he voted to provide? When he fired a campaign staffer for criticizing Netanyahu? When he went on a Zionist diatribe in an interview with a Palestinian journalist? When he blamed an Israeli massacre of 50 civilians on “Hamas”? When he suggested that Palestinian parents train their children to become suicide bombers?
All of these things happened since Israel’s 2014 destruction of the Gaza Strip, one of the century’s most vicious events.
How about when he calls himself “100 percent pro-Israel”? Or opposes BDS? Or offers “both sides” pabulum in response to yet more Israeli war crimes? Or declines to support the right of return (Andrew Yang accidentally provided the model for a good answer)?