Bernie Sanders again abandons the Jews

US Senator Bernie Sanders took to the pages of the Guardian (“The US must act to end the Gaza disaster“, Jan. 17) to decry what he describes as Israel’s “illegal” war and “inhuman treatment” of the Palestinians, while giving Hamas a moral pass.  In fact, in his 1,700 word piece, he mentioned the perpetrator of the worst antisemitic attack since the Holocaust only twice. Though he condemns the group for their Oct. 7 attacks, there’s no suggestion that he holds them in any way responsible for the suffering of Palestinian civilians in the territory.

He peddles pro-Palestinian talking points about Israel “going to war against the entire Palestinian people”, and cites casualty figures claiming that “70%” of the “25,000” killed during war “are women and children” without noting that these stats come from the Hamas-controlled health ministry, that teenage combatants are counted as “children” and that Israel estimates that between 9,000 to 10,000 of those killed were terrorists.

Further, as Yaakov Katz, the former military correspondent and editor in chief for the Jerusalem Post pointed out, the combatant-civilian death ratio in Gaza, where for every combatant killed, around 1.5 civilians are killed, is far better than what the UN says is the international average of one combatant for every nine civilians.

Sanders then complains that “1.7 million people have been driven from their homes, almost 80% of the entire population of Gaza”, while failing to acknowledge that this undermines the claim that the IDF is engaged in a war against Palestinian civilians, as the evacuation of civilians from combat zones prevented countless more Palestinians from being killed. In fact, Israel’s efforts to avoid harming civilians has included the issuing of warnings before IDF offensives, forfeiting the strategic advantage by effectively giving Hamas an alert to upcoming Israeli troop movements.

Israel’s critics like Sanders can’t have it both ways. They can’t simultaneously accuse the Jewish state of intentionally targeting civilians while criticising them for having taken measures to evacuate civilians out of harm’s way.  Israel’s critics, like the Senator from Vermont, evidently fail to see the contradiction in their demonising rhetoric.

Sanders then calls out Israel for the high percentage of “housing units in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed”. This suggests that the IDF has been targeting ‘civilian’ buildings, but elides it’s true significance: the fact that Hamas military assets and fighters are embedded in homes, schools, hospitals and mosques – and that their 350-450 miles of military tunnels run below civilian infrastructure, including under UNRWA facilities.

Sanders then lists a litany of health issues in the territory, without mentioned Hamas’s theft of humanitarian aid, before making the following allegation:

Israel is rejecting items like tent poles, feminine hygiene kits, hand sanitizers, water-testing kits and medical supplies. If a single item is rejected, the truck has to go back to the start of the process…It is hard to see this process and not conclude that it’s a deliberate effort to slow humanitarian aid.

First, as COGAT reported recently Out of 10,000 aid trucks inspected by Israel, 99% were cleared to enter Gaza – with the remaining 1% stopped because they reportedly contained weapons or other banned military/dual use items. Also, as COGAT made clear, there are no restrictions on medical supplies (let alone female hygiene kits).  In fact, since the beginning of the war, 16,390 tons of medical supplies have entered Gaza, with a total of nearly 200,000 tons of humanitarian aid overall.  Moreover, a Wall Street Journal article, citing an intelligence report seen by their reporters on UNRWA’s connection to terrorism, reports that “since Oct. 7, Hamas has stolen more than $1 million worth of UNRWA supplies, including fuel and trucks”.

Another lie peddled by Sanders in his op-ed is, while arguing that the US is ‘complicit’ in the war, his claim that the Israel-Hamas war “is being fought primarily with US arms and equipment”.  In fact, the $3.8 billion Israel gets annually from the US represents only about 16% of their total military budget of $23.6 billion.  Sanders then highlights a resolution he sponsored in the Senate to restrict this military aid, a bill which he acknowledged received a paltry 11 votes in the 100 seat chamber. This is a reflection of America’s overwhelming support for the Jewish state, and shows how out of touch he is with the sentiments of both Republicans and Democrats – and those of the US Jewish community.

When Bernie Sanders, who proclaims to be proud of his Jewish background, was mayor of Burlington Vermont in the 1980s, he was among those peddling propaganda about the ‘advantages’ of Soviet and Cuban totalitarianism, while remaining silent about the mistreatment of millions of his fellow-Jews behind the Iron Curtain.  So, it’s not at all surprising to see the his transformation from (briefly) being a critic of Hamas in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 massacre to the Senate’s most vocal disseminator of anti-Israel agitprop designed to tie Jerusalem’s hands in its war against the antisemitic terror group.

Bernie Sanders has again abandoned the Jews.

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