Sanders Gets it Mostly Right on Gaza, but Cheerleaders for Israeli Brutality Attack Him Anyway

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In an interview with the New York Daily News, a tabloid owned by ultra-Zionist multi-billionaire Mort Zuckerman, Sen. Bernie Sanders held forth on Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip. "My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don't think I'm alone in believing that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been," Sanders declared. He then overstated the civilian casualty toll, asserting that “over 10,000 people” were killed by Israel.


Sanders’ comments infuriated the pro-Israel lobby, provoking former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren to accuse him of a “blood libel,” referring to the false rumors of Jews kidnapping and cooking gentile babies  spread to justify pogroms and anti-Semitic repression. The Anti-Defamation League joined the festival of outrage, demanding Sanders apologize for his comments. When Sanders visited his childhood home in Brooklyn, he was met with protests by right-wing allies of the Israeli settler movement including New York State Assemblymember Dov Hikind, an unrepentant former member of the violent extremist Jewish Defense League.


While Israel lobbyists like Oren were determined to extract a display of contrition from the Democratic presidential challenger, it’s hard to imagine they would want to acknowledge the real toll of Israel’s 51-day-long assault, from the 551 children killed to the Associated Press’s finding that Israel killed 844 Palestinian civilians in airstrikes on their homes to the fact that a whopping 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by Israeli violence.


Indeed, Sanders’ comments about the leveling of apartment houses and bombing of hospitals were absolutely accurate. When Israel shelled a UN-run shelter for displaced civilians in Gaza on August 2, 2014, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki declared, “The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least 10 more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed.”


The pro-Israel lobby played a critical role in the blood-drenched assault on Gaza in 2014, ensuring full-throated political support from American lawmakers and military backing from the Obama administration. Its accusations of blood libel represent the height of moral hypocrisy. Israeli propagandists like Oren -- who was an active, uniformed participant in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion of Gaza -- point an accusing finger at Sanders with one hand, and pull the trigger on a besieged, occupied population with the other. 

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