TEL AVIV – Earlier this week, Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign released the text of the speech he would have given had he attended this week’s annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Sanders, the sole Jewish candidate in this year’s presidential elections and the first Jewish politician to ever win a presidential primary, was also the only presidential candidate not to speak at AIPAC’s conference.
Here are five outrages in the text of Sanders’s speech, enumerated in no particular order:
1 – Sanders compared the democratic, pro-human rights, terrorist-condemning Israeli government and society to the anti-democratic, human rights abusing, terrorist-supporting Palestinian leadership and to Palestinian society, which is also mostly supportive of terrorism.
“The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace. And the other truth is there are despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism,” reads Sanders’s remarks.
Sanders did not define which “despots” he believes exist on the Israeli side. He seems to be comparing some members of the Israeli government to actual despots on the Palestinian side.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has bypassed elections since 2007, ruling instead by enacting annual, made up “emergency” decrees. His Fatah party’s official “military wing” is the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist group, which is responsible for scores of murderous terror attacks. And the fascist Hamas leadership, which calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel, rules over a notoriously bloody tyranny in the Gaza Strip.
2 – Sanders called for an end to Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
“Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza,” his speech states.
Here Sanders is echoing Hamas propaganda. There is no economic blockade of Gaza. In response to repeated rocket fire by Gazan terrorists aimed at nearby Israeli civilian population zones, Israel in 2007 imposed a land, air, and sea military blockade of Gaza to ensure that Hamas cannot bring more weapons and rockets into the coastal enclave. This was after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 in hopes that the Palestinians would use the territory for peaceful means. Instead, the Gazans elected Hamas to power and the Strip was used as launching ground for thousands of attacks on Israel.
Contrary to popular belief, all kinds and quantities of consumer goods can be imported into the Gaza Strip through border crossings with Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states “border crossings have a capacity of 800 trucks a day, in order to meet all of Gaza’s import demands. Every single day, about 550 truckloads of goods, carrying everything from foodstuffs to vehicles, pass into Gaza from Israel.”
The only import restrictions, the Ministry explains, involve “weapons and a list of dual-use items which can be used in the production of weapons and terrorist infrastructure. Dual-use items can be imported into Gaza subject to a security screening.”
Indeed, Hamas has been caught using imported concrete to build its terror tunnels. A single tunnel utilizes 500 tons of concrete or more.
Also contrary to popular belief, Gaza in modern times has never had a port capable of handling cargo ships; it has relied almost entirely on the transport of goods across the borders with Israel or Egypt.
Besides transporting goods, the Ministry documents:
Israel also supplies the Gaza Strip with millions of cubic meters of water every year and more than half of its electricity. In the beginning of March 2015, Israel announced that it was implementing plans to double the water supplied to Gaza, from 5 million to 10 million cubic meters of water annually (2.6 billion US gallons). These plans had been delayed by the Palestinian refusal to participate in Joint Water Committee meetings.
3 – Sanders called on Israel to ends its “disproportionate” responses to terrorist attacks.
Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.
What is Sanders advocating? That instead of acting to minimize the terrorist threat against its civilians, Israel should respond to every act of Palestinian terrorism with an equivalent act? That if three rockets are fired into Israeli towns, the Jewish state should fire three rockets back into Gazan civilian towns? That if a terrorist stabbing is carried out, Israel should go into a Palestinian town and stab a Palestinian? Or is Sanders arguing that Israel should not respond at all?
Sanders statement is preposterous, nonsensical, and negates Israel’s ability to defend itself and degrade terrorist military zones. Israel takes great care to minimize civilian casualties, a difficult task since Palestinian militants use civilians as human shields and house their terrorist infrastructures in densely populated civilian areas.
Still, Israel goes beyond what any other country does to protect civilians. The IDF regularly warns civilians of incoming attacks with phone calls and text messages. It further employs “roof knocking” – or firing warning shots before any aerial bombing. If civilians still don’t evacuate, the Israeli army many times makes announcements on loudspeakers. The IDF has called off scores of military raids because civilians were in the way.
4 – Sanders argued that the international nuclear deal with Iran is in Israel’s best interests.
Not only did Sanders posit that the “deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he scandalously argued the nuclear accord is in Israel’s best interests.
I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the deal.
Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only the United States’ security, but Israel’s security as well.
5 – Sanders treats Israel and the Palestinians as equally intransigent to peace.
The speech states:
The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations.
Progress is never made unless people are prepared to sit down and talk to each other. This is no small thing. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. Again, this is not easy, but that is the direction we’ve got to go.
Both sides? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made unprecedented “confidence building” gestures toward Abbas in a failed attempt to get the Palestinians to the bargaining table. These gestures have included the release of Palestinian terrorist murderers and the freezing of Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Abbas didn’t budge.
Sanders seems to be ignoring the Palestinians’ long-standing history of rejecting Israeli peace offers, many times without making counteroffers. In 2000, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David collapsed when Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist war, against the Jewish state. In 2008, Abbas walked away from U.S.-brokered peace talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, again without making a counteroffer.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.