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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/22/16

The Clinton/Trump AIPAC "Pander-Off"

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Trump then took on the challenge of out-pandering Clinton. Trump pandered to Israel's hatred of Iran, vowing "to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran" restraining its nuclear program. He also pandered about Iran's role in terrorism.

"They've got terror cells everywhere, including in the Western Hemisphere, very close to home," Trump said. "Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world. And we will work to dismantle that reach, believe me, believe me."

However, in the real world, Iran has actually assisted the governments of Iraq and Syria in battling the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and -- to a lesser degree -- Israel have provided help to Sunni jihadists, especially in Syria, to counter what the Sunni-led states and Israel see as excessive Shiite influence in the Middle East.

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Trump's pandering even extended to mentioning his and his family's longtime devotion to Israel, including a reference to his daughter marrying an Orthodox Jew, converting to Judaism and now pregnant: "I love the people in this room. I love Israel. I love Israel. I've been with Israel so long in terms of I've received some of my greatest honors from Israel, my father before me, incredible. My daughter, Ivanka, is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby."

By contrast, Sanders, the only Jewish candidate and someone who lived on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man, did not attend the AIPAC conference, citing a scheduling conflict for his campaign which was hoping to close Clinton's formidable delegate lead with strong showings in Utah, Idaho and Arizona.

Instead, Sanders gave a foreign policy speech that he claimed he would have given if he had addressed the AIPAC convention. While critical of Iranian and Palestinian leaders, Sanders offered a much more evenhanded assessment of the reasons for the troubled Middle East.

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Sanders stressed that his overall approach to the region would be to emphasize diplomacy among the Mideast countries instead of concentrating on threats and the use of force. He also called for a recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

"To be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high," the Vermont senator said. "You can't have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side."

Respecting the Palestinians

While insisting on security for Israel, Sanders said, "peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people. Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank. " It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence."


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Sanders also touched on other sensitive issues that Clinton and Trump avoided. Sanders said, "Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.

"Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water."

Sanders continued, "Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked -- even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable."

While condemning rocket fire from Gaza into Israel in 2014, Sanders added, "let me also be very clear: I -- along with many supporters of Israel -- spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps. Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover."

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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