Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sanders' Choice, Klobuchar's Chance

"Paging Amy Klobuchar."

The Minnesota senator is too conservative for my tastes, andher vote for a controversial (anti-) Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions demonstrated questionable judgment because of issues pertaining to free speech.  Nevertheless, she is correct that

As staunch allies of Israel, we must also ensure that harmful movements, like the resurgence in anti-Semitism and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement are not successful. The BDS movement undermines a two-state solution and is counterproductive to both Israelis and Palestinians.

It appears unlikely that is an opinion shared by the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for President. And so it is that

It's comforting to learn that the senator is not determined to bring further war and insecurity to the  Middle East. However

his public refusal to attend last year’s conference early in his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination spurred a petition that urged other presidential candidates to steer clear of the pro-Israel lobbying group’s event.

Things have changed since last year, but the senator from Vermont on Sunday again denounced the conference, which he called a platform for “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” In doing so, Sanders has reignited the debate over the lobby’s influence in U.S. politics, at a time when some detractors have compared his supporters and campaign victories to the rise of the Nazis.

In response, AIPAC, which calls itself a “pro-Israel lobby” and holds substantial sway in foreign policy debates involving Israel and the Palestinian territories, described Sanders’s position on Sunday as “truly shameful.”

“Sen. Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment,” AIPAC said in a tweet Sunday. “By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Sen. Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel.”

AIPAC is not Republican or Democratic, nor does it support Likud or any political party in Israel.  A year ago, it criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for forming a coalition with three right-wing parties in order to remain in power. Probably more than anything else, it is mainstream.

Yet Bernard Sanders won't attend its conference this year, just as he refused to do so last year.  He did, however, recently appear at a forum co-sponsored by Emgage and earned the endorsement of Emgage Action, which "calls itself the biggest Muslim political action committee in the country."

Sanders may be emphasizing his support for Palestinian Arabs over Palestinian Jews as a general election strategy (read: "Michigan").  Or he actually may want to restructure radically American policy in the Middle East.

The Vermont senator may expect his Jewish affiliation to blunt or counter any charge that he does not support "the right of the Israeli people to live in peace and security," a vague phrase meaning nothing.  But he is the clear front-runner, and without a serious challenge- beginning at Tuesday's debate in Charleston, S.C.- obviously will sail to the nomination.  And for Amy Klobuchar, that might mean confronting Sanders on his preferences in the Middle East. It's a risky strategy, but for her at least there probably is no other.

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