Senator Bernie Sanders—the longest serving independent member of congress in American history—compromised his firm antiwar position at Saturday’s climate change event in New York City. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last time the potential presidential candidate finds himself in the crosshairs over his inconsistent—Israeli exempt—opposition of U.S. entanglement in the Middle East.
Last night in New York City, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was interrupted by two protestors, while he addressed the panel on “The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out?” The protesters held a sign for the audience, which read “BERNIE VOTED FOR THE WAR ON THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF PALESTINE.”
In a similar incident last August, Sen. Sanders faced heavy criticism from Cabot Town Hall audience members. Citizens expressed their disapproval over his statements and votes in support of Israel’s recent military offensive, which devastated the Gaza Strip—Operation Protective Edge claimed the lives of over 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians. In a rare video of the event posted on YouTube, Sanders becomes angry and instinctively defends Israel’s internationally condemned bombings on Gaza’s civilian population.
Here’s the video:
Sanders almost successfully avoided the confrontation—by distracting and deflecting the question to “bigger” U.S. concerns over ISIS—until he grew frustrated and snapped. Unable to control his temper, Sen. Sanders raised his voice above the disruptive audience member and said,
“Excuse me,” “Shut up! You don’t have the microphone.”
Sen. Sanders and many liberal Democrats in the House collectively opposed the Obama administration’s request for military support in the Middle East campaign against ISIS/ISIL. His official position opposes further United States involvement in the Middle East in fear of becoming caught in another endless war in Iraq and Syria.
Senator Bernie Sanders argued that the cost of U.S. involvement in a new Middle East campaign will primarily come at the cost of the poor. He stated,
Our Republican friends have made it very clear. They’re not going to ask the wealthy or large corporations to pay more in taxes. They already want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What may well be happening is the cost of this war may be paid for by more kids being thrown off Head Start. Senior citizens being thrown off Meals on Wheels programs. Educational programs being cut. The Republicans would go in that way to pay for this war. That is clear to me.
His unconditional support and vote for Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip is a blatant contradiction and is utterly inconsistent with his antiwar policy in the Middle East. What about saving the kids and senior citizens by cutting $30 billion in American taxpayers’ aid over the next decade to fund Israel’s state welfare and military occupation?
Why not kill two birds with one stone? By condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and remaining consistent to stated antiwar principles, the children and Senior citizens living in the United States will have brighter futures, while Americans will walk away with a $30 billion bonus to reinvest at home.
Sanders once said,
Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.
Sanders talks the talk, but his support to fund Israel with billions of taxpayers’ dollars to fund wars and an illegal occupation, shows he is an inconsistent walking contradiction.
Sanders also said,
You’ve got the top 400 Americans owning more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. Most folks do not think that is right.
Well said by Senator Sanders, but support of the pro-Israel lobby is making the top 400 richer and the middle- and lower-class poorer.
It appears that the Senator from Vermont does not understand ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’
Foreign control over U.S. politics poses an existential threat on American democracy. These troublesome issues present Americans with difficult questions. Has the pro-Israel lobby stranglehold on American politics made it impossible for election into office without publicly pledging allegiance to the State of Israel? Are American politicians placing Israeli interests before American interests?
For a Senator who has gained the respect and support from millions, it appears support from the pro-Israel lobby far outweighs the benefit of demonstrating consistency in campaign policies. Sadly, upholding principles, even if that means standing against the pro-Israel lobby, is a greater risk-factor than compromising loyalty, violating ethics, and losing moral credibility from American citizens.
Senator Sanders sure does say (almost) all the right things, but inconsistency in his antiwar policy and contradicting support of Israel’s incursion on Gaza, raises serious concerns in his integrity and strength as a leader.