Sanders’ Slanders Against Israel

Baseless charges that would make Palestinian propagandists proud.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist who is running for the Democratic Party presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton, has made utterly irresponsible accusations against Israel that would make Palestinian propagandists proud.

During an interview Sanders conducted with the editorial board of the Daily News on April 1, Sanders accused Israel of “indiscriminate” attacks against “innocent” Palestinians in Gaza.  As a result, he said, “a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed.”

Without citing any basis for his claim, Sanders stated his recollection that “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza.” The Daily News checked the figure online, which turned out to be about 2,300 killed, and 10,000 wounded. Even those figures are questionable with regard to actual civilian casualties if they rely on United Nations sources. The UN’s sources included the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, which is run by Hamas’s very own Mufiz al-Makhalalati.

Israel’s former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren was unsparing in his criticism of Sanders’ outlandish assertions: “He accused us of a blood libel. He accused us of bombing hospitals. He accused us of killing 10,000 Palestinian civilians. Don’t you think that merits an apology?”

The Anti-Defamation League called upon Sanders “to correct his misstatements.”

Sanders has offered no apology. He has not corrected his misstatements. Instead, he has indulged in outright lies propagated by Palestinian leaders and their supporters to delegitimize Israel.

Both Sanders and his Daily News questioners ignored the fact that many so-called Palestinian civilians were in fact Hamas operatives or supporters who put themselves in harm’s way. Moreover, Hamas militia used women and children as human shields.  Hamas concealed their weapons and military personnel in residential areas, including schools and hospitals. When a traditionally civilian object (such as a civilian house) is occupied and used by combatants, it becomes a legitimate military target under international law so long as precautionary measures are taken to minimize civilian casualties, such as the advance warnings to occupants that Israel provided.

Sanders was willing to concede that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups. Sanders even condemned Hamas for its rocket attacks and construction of the military tunnels into Israel. However, when the discussion turned to concessions he believed needed to be made in order to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sanders placed the onus squarely on Israel.

Going further than even President Obama, Sanders insisted that Israel must withdraw from what he called the “illegal” settlements in the “territories.” Israel tried that tack in Gaza, withdrawing completely in 2005, only to find itself under a barrage of rocket attacks against its civilians launched by Hamas and other jihadists from Gaza.

All that Sanders asks of the Palestinians in return for Israel’s further concession of land is “absolute condemnation of all terrorist attacks.”  He added, “Foreign aid should go to housing and schools, not the development of bombs and missiles.” In other words, what Sanders is seeking from the Palestinians is empty, useless rhetoric. Even in the unlikely case that all Palestinian leaders, including Hamas leaders, agreed to make such a declaration, they do not believe that the “terrorist” label should apply to them. The Palestinians consider their violence against Israeli civilians to be legitimate “resistance,” not terrorism.

When Bernie Sanders was not delivering his ill-informed broadsides against Israel during his Daily News interview, he displayed how incredibly little he understands the breadth of the global jihadist threat. Despite ISIS spreading far beyond its bases in Syria and Iraq, Sanders claimed that Obama’s “strategy” against ISIS is “actually beginning to prove to be a success.” Survivors and families of the victims of the Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels massacres would beg to differ. Most Americans would also disagree with Sanders’ assertion, after the Paris massacre, that climate change remained our nation’s biggest security threat.

As for what to do with any captured ISIS leaders, Sanders said he had not given much thought of where to imprison them, although he said they could be imprisoned in the United States. One thing he made clear was that he was against the death penalty in all circumstances, even if it were to be used against the mastermind of 911, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Indeed, Bernie Sanders seems to have the peculiar idea that international terrorists are entitled to U.S. constitutional protections. He does not support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict. “While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans,” Sanders has said.

Bernie Sanders is far over to the left when it comes to defining America’s role in the world. He shies away from living up to the responsibilities of the United States as the leader of the free world.

Sanders has opposed standing up to Russia, including the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe. “After four decades of the cold war and trillions of United States taxpayer dollars allocated to compete in the arms race, many of our constituents understand that it is not the time to continue wasting tens of billions of dollars helping to defend Europe,” Sanders said back in 1997.

In 1995, Sanders introduced a bill to terminate America’s nuclear weapons program. He has since called for very steep cuts in overall defense spending – reportedly as much as 50 percent.  

Senator Sanders is channeling the deceased 1972 anti-war Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern’s message of retrenchment, which McGovern summed up by proclaiming “Come home, America.” The far left loves the message. But if Sanders ever were given the opportunity as commander-in-chief to implement it, our homeland, as well as other freedom loving countries, may well burn in the process.