On March 22, the 2016 presidential candidates made their cases before The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful lobbying group that advocates for Israeli interests in the United States.
Missing from the annual policy conference was presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish candidate running for president. Although his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Poland, Sanders lived in Israel for a short period of time after graduating from the University of Chicago.
While a scheduling conflict kept Senator Sanders from being able to attend the conference, he did offer to speak to the lobbying group via teleconference, as many others have done in the past. His offer was refused.
In spite of being shut out of the conference, Sanders spoke to a crowd in Utah, giving his own foreign policy speech regarding Israel.
Sanders told the crowd,
“I was invited along with other presidential candidates to be at the AIPAC conference in Washington, but obviously I could not make it because we are here.
The issues that AIPAC is dealing with are very important issues and I wanted to give the same speech here as I would have given if we were at that conference.
Let me begin by saying that I think I am probably the only candidate for president who has personal ties with Israel. I spent a number of months there when I was a young man on a kibbutz, so I know a little bit about Israel.”
Sanders went on to say,
“To my mind, as friends – long term friends with Israel – we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.
Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.
But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have.”
Senator Sanders willingness to speak honestly about the conflict in Gaza, and to openly criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu, no doubt had something to do with his absence from the AIPAC conference.
During a Monday night interview with Chris Hayes, Sanders reminded the audience that Netanyahu is a “right-wing politician… a guy who kind of crashed the United States Congress to give his speech there, ignoring President Obama, and not even consulting with him, using it for political purposes back home…”
He went on, saying, he’s “a guy who has supported the growth of settlements, I think the overreaction and the destruction of Gaza has gone too-too far. Israel should not be bombing schools, or homes, or… just terrible damage there.”
Watch the interview here, via All In With Chris Hayes on Facebook.
Bernie Sanders: Netanyahu “is a right-wing politician” who “crashed the United States Congress”
Posted by All In with Chris Hayes on Monday, March 21, 2016
As Addicting Info reported here, Netanyahu’s government secretly solicited members of the United States Congress, bribing them to oppose President Obama’s negotiations with Iran.
Scathing new reports, which were made possible from leaked NSA wiretapping, show how Israel communicated directly with members of Congress. It proves that Netanyahu and his cohorts were attempting to essentially bribe Republicans into sabotaging the diplomatic efforts of a sitting United States president. A U.S. intelligence official who was involved in managing the NSA intercepts said Israel’s communications with Republicans included such questions as: “How can we get your vote? What’s it going to take?”
Senator Sanders was the first senator to boycott Netanyahu’s unprecedented speech before Congress, saying point-blank that it was a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of President Obama.
When it comes to the Gaza Conflict, like President Obama, Senator Sanders is in favor of a two-state solution.
During his speech in Utah, Sanders condemned violence from both Israel and Palestine, while refusing to gloss over the human rights violations committed against the people of Gaza, and carried out under Netanyahu’s leadership.
Watch Bernie Sanders full foreign policy speech below, via YouTube.
Image credit: video screen capture via All In With Chris Hayes