Sanders says portion of Israel’s military aid should go ‘right now’ to Gaza

October 29, 2019 by Jackson Richman - JNS
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has stated on Monday that a portion of the U.S. military assistance to Israel should go towards humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, at the annual J Street Conference in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 28, 2019. Credit: Michael Brochstein/Split Stone Media.

“I would use the leverage of $3.8 billion,” Sanders said, referring to the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel negotiated by former President Barack Obama. “It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”

The senator, who received a thunderous crowd ovation from start to finish, remarked that some of the $3.8 billion the United States annually gives to Israel in assistance should “go right now to humanitarian aid in Gaza.”

The Gaza Strip has been under control by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas since 2007, when it overthrew the Palestinian Authority. Israel has permitted international humanitarian aid transfers to the Gaza Strip, including from Arab countries such as Qatar.

“My proposal in terms of Israeli-Palestinian efforts is not a radical proposal,” Sanders said. “All it says is that we need an even-hand proposal for both people. What is going on in Gaza right now, for example, is absolutely inhumane. It is unacceptable. It is unsustainable.”

Sanders also attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arguing that it’s not antisemitic to say that the government of Netanyahu has been “racist.”

“It is not antisemitism to say that the Netanyahu government has been racist,” Sanders told the annual J Street conference in Washington, D.C. “That’s a fact.”

However, cautioned Sanders, “It is not only Netanyahu’s government that has been a problem; let’s recognize there has been corruption in terms of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.”

In response to getting endorsements from those on the record for their antisemitic vitriol, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and comedian and law professor Amer Zahr, Sanders said, “Being Jewish may be helpful in that regard. It would be very hard for anybody to call me whose father’s family was wiped out by Hitler and who spent time in Israel antisemitic.”

Along with Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) addressed the J Street conference.

They were all interviewed by the hosts of the weekly podcast “Pod Save the World,” former National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor and former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes to “discuss the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, their visions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their plans to combat the growing threat of white supremacy and more,” according to an email from J Street ahead of the conference.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) are scheduled to address the conference on Monday night.

The conference concludes on Tuesday, when participants will lobby J Street’s agenda on Capitol Hill.


4 Responses to “Sanders says portion of Israel’s military aid should go ‘right now’ to Gaza”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    Bernie Sanders, you cannot rest as you do on your family’s horrific demise in the Holocaust. No, no. You are responsible for your actions and your thoughts, and identifying yourself as a Jew with family Holocaust history and a Jew who has been to Israel does not exonerate you from the statements you are making about Israel and its government. These statements are beyond criticism, they’re so extreme and generalised as to deserve the category antisemitic. Is your current alignment with the likes of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib politically motivated with your own ambitions in mind? It’s the only logical explanation I can come to. I suggest you retire from politics and put your time into thorough research into the areas you speak of so easily.


    For all that I love Bernie, this is an instance, one of a few, where he is shooting his mouth off without having done the research. The 3.8 billion is not some movable grant but mainly a subsidy to US manufacturers from whom Israel can purchase military materiel. No humanitarian aid should go to Gaza without assurances that it will be used for humanitarian purposes. The greatest obstacle to progress in Gaza is neither Israel nor Egypt but the corrupt Islamist regime in power in Gaza itself. Without Hamas and Islamic Jihad much more progress would be possible towards a 2 nation solution. As things stand, if there is a solution in the future it will likely exclude Gaza. All this has nothing to do with US aid. If Israel did not get US aid of course, concerned as they are with their progress and survival, they would logically and fairly seek it elsewhere.

  3. Paul Winter says:

    Sanders’ statement that Netanyahu’s government is racist is false and ignorant. His demand for “even-handedness” is disingenuous; one can never be even-handed when one party is an open democracy ruled by law and the other party is an aggressive, antisemitic, authoritiarian, deceitful kleptocracy. And there is no such thing as a Palestinian people; they are Arabs many descended from those whom the Brits allowed to enter their mandate while Jews under threat in Europe were excluded.

  4. Adrian Jackson says:

    I think Sanders is actually highlighting the huge sum the US taxpayer pays to Israel in military aid rather that really saying Gaza should get some of the US aid.

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