by James M. Wall
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were among the invitees to the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting which this year happened to coincide with the start of Holy Week.
I do not know if candidate Clinton attended a worship service on Passion/Palm Sunday, the day before she gave her keynote address. If so, she might have heard a reading from the Gospel of Luke, which records that the authorities said to Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
The authorities were complaining about the shouts of praise which greeted Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Stones cry out to deliver a message when others remain silent. Stones cry out with messages of last resort in the hope the words will penetrate the shields surrounding those who remain stubbonly oblivious to reality.
Candidate Bernie Sanders did not attend the AIPAC conference. He sent his Stone message to the AIPAC event, which he also delivered at a campaign event.
One sample: “to be successful, we have got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high”.
Candidate Clinton did attend, delivering her customary anodyne praise, described by Juan Cole as the speech she always gives on Israel:
I once heard Hillary Clinton give her AIPAC speech at a university. It doesn’t change much, just as US policy toward the Mideast doesn’t change much. She was still a senator then. Much of the audience was Middle East experts, who could barely keep themselves from gagging.
Clinton used her speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting, the gathering of some of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, to lambaste Donald Trump for saying he’d try to be neutral in heading up negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Donald Trump should be lambasted. He is wrong on everything most of every day. But, like a clock, he is right twice a day and this a point on which he is correct. The US cannot be an honest broker in the Mideast conflict if it is more Israeli than the Israelis, which it typically is.
Clinton’s speech was also blasted by Palestinian supporters.
Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, noted that Clinton’s speech “could well have been written by an Israeli government public relations firm.” He added that her speech “took pandering to a new level.”
A news clip highlights a moment where she criticizes her opponents:
In contrast to the Clinton embrace of all things Israeli, Bernie Sanders’ message to AIPAC sounds less like a lover and more like a friend admonishing a friend:
It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.
The Vermont Senator also told AIPAC it was time to end the economic blockade of Gaza. He identified a long-held Israeli practice of using water as a weapon against Palestinians and called for a “sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.”
Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism. But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for the Palestinian people. Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders.
In a news clip from CNN, Sanders offers specifics. https://youtu.be/QgxhzOyXnF0
The speeches run long, but surely, this is a time when attention should be paid.
The picture of Bernie Sanders at the top is a Win McNamee/Getty image.