News Release

Clinton, Sanders, Israel and The Occupation of the American Mind

title_map_header_bluebg7SUT JHALLY, LORETTA ALPER, lorettaalper59 at gmail.com
Jhally is executive producer of the just-released film “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in The United States,” narrated by Roger Waters. Alper is a producer and co-director on the film. Jhally said today: “During last night’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders became the first major presidential candidate in recent memory to talk openly about Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, repeatedly criticizing Hillary Clinton for barely even mentioning the Palestinian people in her speech to AIPAC last month. In response, Clinton reasserted virtually every major Likkud Party talking point: Israel’s right to defend itself, the widely discredited claim that the 2014 Gaza slaughter was the result of Hamas using human shields and the myth that Israel ended its occupation of Gaza when it withdrew its settlers a few years ago.

“But while it was stunning to see a major presidential candidate like Sanders refusing to pander to political pressure and actually question Israeli policy, we shouldn’t forget that even Sanders’ criticism of Israel stayed on relatively safe political ground. While he spoke humanely about the Palestinian people, Sanders nevertheless ceded Clinton’s larger point that Israel had a right to ‘defend itself’ during the 2014 Gaza invasion, as if it’s merely responding and limiting his criticism to the ‘disproportionate’ nature of the civilian slaughter. What went unmentioned by either candidate — and by mainstream media commentators after — was Israel’s ongoing blockade and siege of Gaza, its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, and its continued settlement expansion in violation of international law.”

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes at usfca.edu, @szunes
Professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at University of San Francisco, Zunes said today: “A number of Hillary Clinton’s statements during last night’s debate addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were quite troubling:

“She said she supported the Palestinians having ‘self-government’ and ‘autonomy,’ but she did NOT say they had the right to independence. It is hard to imagine any peaceful resolution to the conflict which does not allow Palestinians to have a viable independent state.

“Despite being prodded repeatedly, she refused to acknowledge that the killing of nearly 1500 Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces during the summer of 2014 (compared with five Israeli civilians killed by Hamas forces) was ‘disproportionate,’ and instead claimed the civilian deaths were because of ‘the way that Hamas places its weapons’ or that ‘it often has its fighters in civilian garb.’ However, Amnesty International and other reputable human rights investigators found that virtually none of the civilian deaths were related to either of these things.

“In addition, she repeated the myth that the U.S.-Israeli proposal put forward at Camp David in July 2000, which the Palestinians rejected, would have created a viable independent Palestinian state. They did not. Subsequent proposals put forward that December and January came much closer to doing so and Palestinian president Abbas has agreed to such terms, but it is Israel that has refused.” See “The Myth of the Generous Offer” from FAIR.