Sen. Bernie Sanders Is Criticized for Signing Pro-Israel Senate Letter

Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chair, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a Democratic Party rally in Mesa, Ariz., in April. (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chair, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a Democratic Party rally in Mesa, Ariz., in April. (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

Although Bernie Sanders is often touted as a progressive leader within the Democratic Party, the Vermont senator is facing criticism from his supporters after he signed his name to a pro-Israel Senate letter. The letter, addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, advocates for the Senate’s “desire to see the United Nations improve its treatment of Israel” and condemns what it calls “continued targeting of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. entities.”

In a recent piece on The Electronic Intifada, Michael F. Brown argues that, although this stance is expected of many establishment politicians, progressives should be outraged at Sanders’ decision to sign the letter. Brown writes:

The diverse coalition Sanders brought together will be jeopardized if he thinks Palestinians can be thrown under the bus with no reaction.

The letter, addressed to the UN secretary-general, claims absurdly that Israel is being picked on and singled out by the world body – even though Israel has flouted international law and UN resolutions for decades without ever once being subjected to UN sanctions.

It also smears UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, whose overstretched resources mean the difference between subsistence and hunger for a million Palestinians in Gaza, which has been under a decade-long Israeli siege.

Brown also analyzes a recent interview in which Sanders defends signing on to the letter:

“While offering mild criticism of Israel – he even used air quotes when he said the words ‘human rights violations’ – Sanders deployed a favorite Israel lobby tactic of deflecting attention to abuses by other countries,” Brown argues. “Sanders appears to counsel returning to a so-called ‘peace process’ that has failed for decades. His apparent confidence in the unprincipled triumvirate of President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is astonishingly misplaced.”

“In the interview, Sanders repeated the false claims in the letter he signed, that Israel is unfairly singled out,” Brown continues. “That Sanders and other ‘progressives’ would join such an attack on the rights and existence of the Palestinians is another indication that the self-styled Democratic ‘resistance’ to the Trump administration prefers political expediency over principle.”

Read Brown’s full piece here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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