Politics

Bernie Sanders: I can be pro-Israel and also want Palestinians treated with dignity and respect

Sanders has staunchly claimed that being critical of Israeli policy is not inherently taking a stance against its existence on several occasions.

During Thursday’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders repeated his statement that Israel used disproportionate force during the 2014 assault on Gaza. This action directly led to the deaths of roughly 1,500 Palestinian civilians.

Sanders has staunchly claimed that being critical of Israeli policy is not inherently taking a stance against its existence on several occasions.

Below is a piece of the transcript from an exchange during the Sanders-Clinton debate, moderated by Wolf Blitzer.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We had in the Gaza area—not a very large area—some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Free Palestine!

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Now, if you’re asking me—not just me, but countries all over the world—”Was that a disproportionate attack?” the answer is, I believe it was. And let me say something else. Let me say something else. As somebody who is 100 percent pro-Israel, in the long run—and this is not going to be easy, God only knows—but in the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace to that region, which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity. So, what is not to say—to say that right now in Gaza—right now in Gaza, unemployment is somewhere around 40 percent. You’ve got a lot of that area continues—it hasn’t been rebuilt—decimated, houses decimated, healthcare decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people. That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think—

WOLF BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: —for an approach that works in the Middle East.

This statement followed the Sanders campaign suspending Simone Zimmerman, its new national Jewish outreach coordinator, two days after she was hired due to posting criticisms of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Facebook.

Watch an analysis of Sanders’ comments from Democracy Now! below:

Featured image: Are Tågvold Flaten (Flickr)

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