The Democratic debate in Brooklyn last night took an unusual turn when a grumpy old Jewish American upbraided a slightly younger Illinois Methodist for not respecting the dignity of the Palestinian people.
BLITZER [Used to work for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby] : . . . Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”
What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?
SANDERS [former kubbutznik, i.e. left wing Zionist annoyed by the rise of the far right wing Likud Party]: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.
But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But 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!
SANDERS: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.
SANDERS: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% 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.
SANDERS: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care 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…
BLITZER: … Thank you, Senator…
SANDERS: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.
The Israeli propaganda line is that the Palestinians are natural, intrinsic terrorists who are always attacking Israelis out of blind hatred for Jews and who casually deploy terrorism on a mass scale and refuse to recognize the inexorability and naturalness of several million European and North African and other Jews living in Palestine.