Reprinted from Mondoweiss
As attention turns to the NY primary, the Democratic candidates are beginning to separate on the Israel issue. Let's hope that their very real differences on the Palestinian question become politicized over the next three weeks, and voters are urged to choose between reflexive Israel support (Clinton) and criticism of the occupation (Sanders). Let's hope the media points out that Clinton is to the right of even Donald Trump on this issue.
Some news on the New York race. The Times of Israel reports on a private gathering of rabbis with Bill Clinton earlier this week:
"Former President Bill Clinton met with over 20 leading rabbis in the New York area to discuss his wife Hillary's presidential campaign.
"The meeting Tuesday in Midtown Manhattan was off the record and lasted for two hours, twice the amount of scheduled time. Participants would not discuss the content."
Bernie Sanders told a New York TV station that "we cannot continue to ignore the needs of the Palestinian people." (Thanks to Jewish Insider).
"I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, I have lived in Israel, I'm a strong defender of Israel," he told NBC 4. "But let me also say this, I think we cannot continue to ignore the needs of the Palestinian people and I would hope very much that I could move us forward in what has been so intractable over the years, bringing Palestinians, bringing Israelis together, bringing peace finally to the Middle East."
Two days ago Clinton sat down with Rachel Maddow and threw in a gratuitous Israe l reference, and an Iran one too, in repudiating Donald Trump's bigoted idea of barring all Muslims from coming to the United States:
"We know if we're going to defeat ISIS, which is a very high priority for us, for our partners in Europe and the Middle East, especially Israel and others. We have to form coalitions with predominantly Muslim nations.
"I know how hard it is to form a coalition, I formed the coalition that imposed the sanctions on Iran. Got Russia, and China, and others to be part of it."
PS -- Israel is not all that concerned about ISIS; ISIS just confirms its contention that it lives in the most dangerous neighborhood in the world, and it compares Hamas to ISIS frequently.
Clinton has a high-profile downtown surrogate: playwright Tony Kushner is supporting her and defends her appearance at AIPAC. He appeared on Chris Hayes's MSNBC show, and Hayes prompted Kushner, saying he has been "quite outspoken on Palestinian self-determination" and that Clinton's AIPAC speech was "hawkish." Kushner:
"It was pretty much the speech that I would expect a Democratic serious nominee for the presidency to give to AIPAC. I suppose she might have not shown up as Sanders did... It's enormously important I believe for the Jewish American vote to stay 75 percent Democrat, as it has for many many many decades, and I think that this is an enormously fraught issue and she is avoiding getting caught up in a debate that might do damage to her candidacy. I think she believes in diplomacy and she'll pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in the Middle East."
(Kushner expresses an interesting idea of Jewish political solidarity. I would guess that Kushner thinks that the liberal Jewish political presence on countless domestic issues, which has helped change the country in the last 50 years, outweighs its reactionary effect on Middle East policy. Many in the Palestinian solidarity camp would disagree, and would welcome a new left coalition of great diversity.)
Now here are two great attacks on Clinton's pandering. Sandy Tolan in Truthdig says Clinton has gone "radical right" on Israel, to Donald Trump's right. Some of his items, familiar to folks on our site but worth repeating:
"An attack on Donald Trump from the right by denouncing Trump's once-expressed wish to remain 'neutral' over Israel/Palestine. 'We need steady hands, not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who-knows-what on Wednesday, because everything's negotiable,' Clinton told the AIPAC gathering.