Video: Ali Abunimah on Sanders, Clinton and the Palestinians

Today I spoke to Sharmini Peries of The Real News about the robust confrontation over Israel between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at Thursday night’s Democratic debate.

Watch the video above.

Sanders criticized Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza as “disproportionate” and leveled other criticisms of Israel and US support for it rarely voiced by American politicians.

“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,” Sanders said to loud applause.

“There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time,” Sanders said, referring to the Israeli prime minister.

“We cannot continue to be one-sided,” Sanders added. “There are two sides to the issue.”

Clinton, meanwhile, deployed debunked talking points to justify Israel’s mass killing in Gaza.

We spoke about the limitations of Sanders’ statements and what the still unprecedented exchange tells us about shifts in US attitudes towards the question of Palestine. We also spoke about the growing support for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions.

I also highly recommend my colleague Rania Khalek’s analysis of the Clinton-Sanders debate.

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Thanks, Ali. Well prepared, and well delivered. And I think you're right- Sanders is being driven to speak out- however inadequately- for Palestinian rights by pressure from his supporters and a dawning realization throughout the country that Israel is the culprit in this conflict (Israel and successive U.S. administrations, that is). I look forward to more appearances from you on the Real News.

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I think your points must be granted but would add that just as Sanders was being pushed by his young progressive base, Hillary was compelled , in anticipation of the NY primary, to give that especially powerful portion of her base - Israel uber alles New Yorkers - what they needed to hear. And the same reasoning that convinces me that Sanders would rather not have gone out on a limb, that was likely to break his bid in NY, leads me to believe Hillary's not as far right as her rhetoric.
In 2000, Nader voters countered accusations that he was a spoiler by assuring liberal Democrats that Gore was a shoe in. I think Hillary appears to have both shoes ready to wear but I do fear a Republican in office and more years of the occupation edging away from some kind of reconciliation toward removal.
It's difficult to accept the possibility, in a post WWII world, with ubiquitous media and NGO's but we already hear of discussions in high places about erasing century old borders to resolve regional conflicts. What convinces anyone that the 68 year old ones defining a Palestinian state couldn't be erased.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.