J Street’s blog aims to reflect a range of voices. The opinions expressed in blog posts do not necessarily reflect the policies or view of J Street.
Much of the American Jewish community is reacting to the hateful rhetoric that spewed from the mouths of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich at AIPAC. The speeches — and their warm reception in that room — have been met with shock, sorrow and anger, and rightly so.
But for some, the speeches themselves contained negativity for one week. So, here’s something different: an example of what a real pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy speech looks like.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders defended diplomacy and spoke out for continued American leadership to achieve a two-state solution. Hillary Clinton called out settlements in a speech delivered at AIPAC — not the most receptive audience for that critique. Bernie Sanders did not attend, which is a shame — because we wish that audience could have heard his speech.
J Street doesn’t endorse presidential candidates. But we endorse the vision outlined in this speech, and hope it will serve as an example to other candidates.
Below, we’ve excerpted highlights from his remarks, delivered to a smaller crowd in Utah. The speech deserved a bigger audience, and with your help, it can still have one.
If you have friends were turned off by the other speeches given last week, are despairing of the state of the political conversation on Israel, or simply don’t know that there are alternative ways to be pro-Israel — send them a copy of this speech.
Sanders Outlines Middle East Policy
On what Israelis and Palestinians must do to achieve peace:
“Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel. Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel. Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence….it is unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be ending the violence.”
“Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders and pulling back settlements in the West Bank….Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza….A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives, and there is nothing human life needs more than water. 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.”
On settlement expansion:
“I join much of the international community, including the US State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well. 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.”
And in support of the Iran deal:
“I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military intervention — and more often than not, diplomacy can achieve things that military intervention cannot. That is why I supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and allowed us to reach an agreement…..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 America’s security, but Israel’s security as well. And I am not alone in that idea. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is vocally opposed to the accord, his is hardly a consensus opinion in Israel. Dozens of former security officials, including retired Army generals and chiefs of the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies support the agreement.”
Jessica is the VP of Communications at J Street. She’s on Twitter at @JessRosenblum