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April 20, 2016 6:11 am

Bernie Sanders Is Harming the Palestinians, Not Helping Them

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avatar by Lou Balcher

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Photo: Twitter.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Photo: Twitter.

Last week, during a live national CNN debate with Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders castigated Israel for indiscriminately killing Palestinians, and for its “disproportionate” and excessive use of force in Gaza.

The child that I was growing up in a Conservative synagogue in Cleveland relates strongly to the face-value of Sanders’ words urging respect and dignity for the Palestinians.

While I still hold respect for the Palestinians, four decades of experience in the Middle East has shown me that things are not so simple. Yet it appears that Bernie has not grown from this juvenile view of the conflict, and I find his political views quite dangerous.

His agenda is dictated by the Progressives, many of whom proudly shouted “Free Palestine” at the debate. The intent in Bernie’s heart is to punish Israel, and strip it of the right to defend itself.

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I was working for the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia when Ariel Sharon launched his pullout from Gaza. I witnessed firsthand what Israel was prepared to do for peace, while Hamas terrorists took over —  first killing fellow Palestinians, and then focusing their rockets and bombs on Israel.

True military professionals acknowledge that Israel’s IDF is one of the most moral, law-driven armies in the world. While Bernie claims disproportional force, I have heard repeatedly from international law experts about how wrong he is. The 1,500 Palestinian civilian deaths Bernie cited also ignored that many of these people were involved in terrorist activities. And it completely ignored the role that Palestinian terrorism played in leading to the Gaza conflict.

By falsely condemning Israel’s use of self-defense, while letting Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas off the hook for using and supporting terrorism, Bernie is playing into the hands of Israel’s worst enemies.

Bernie should understand that there is a road towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians. When America sends a strong message that Palestinians must stop using and condoning terror, and must stop teaching their children to hate — and when there is a true Palestinian leader in the fashion of Sadat who is prepared to make peace — then the Jewish heart of Israel will have no choice but to accept it.

Until then, and until he condemns Palestinian terror and violence, Bernie Sanders will never bring peace to Israel, or hope to the Palestinians.

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