Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Candidates on Israel/Palestine

In February, President Obama offered Israel what a US official described as “the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history.”

The package would start at $3.8 billion for the first two or three years and grow incrementally until it reached a combined 10-year total of more than $40 billion.

Yet Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu was not convinced that this amount would be enough, and suggested he would wait to conclude a deal with whoever succeeds President Obama.

So what are the views of the candidates now vying to become the next president?

TRUMP: Although he has cited Israel’s “separation barrier” as an example of why the US should build a wall on the Mexican border, Donald Trump claims he will remain neutral about the Israel Palestine conflict. He is used to making deals, he says, and if he came out in favor of one side or the other, he would not be seen as a credible broker in making peace between the two groups. “I don’t want to get into it,” he told a South Carolina town hall meeting. “You understand a lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think that helps.” But Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (net worth $28.9 billion) sees something else in Trump: 

RUBIO: Questioning Trump’s “commitment to Israel” because of his comment suggesting that Israel would need to offer “sacrifices” to win a peace deal, Senator Marco Rubio told the Republican Jewish Coalition, “There is no moral equivalence between Israel and those who seek to destroy her. Understanding that fundamental truth is essential to being the next commander in chief.” “Today, anti-Semitism hides behind the label of anti-Israel,” Rubio continued. “We need a president who will call it that. I will be that president.” The largest single backer of Rubio’s campaign is billionaire auto dealership magnate Norman Braman (net worth $1.88 billion), a past president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

CRUZ: Responding to Trump’s claim of objectivity, Senator Ted Cruz said he had “no intention of being neutral” in his support for Israel. Cruz positions himself to the right of GW Bush, who at one time, called on Israelis to disband their settlements on disputed land. Instead, Cruz says, the US shouldn’t be dictating where Israelis choose to live. Confusingly, this means he isn’t averse to a two-state solution, because even though “the barrier to peace is the Palestinians,” if Israel chooses to negotiate with them the US has no right to dictate the terms. Yet Cruz also insists that there is “no moral equivalency” between “terrorists” and Israelis who are only trying to protect themselves. Cruz's biggest benefactors are Farris and Dan Wilks, Texas billionaire brothers who made their money from fracking. But Farris Wilks is also a pastor in an obscure Christian denomination called the Assemblies of Yahweh, which traces its roots to "Jewish Cristianity."

CLINTON: Palestinians “deserve to have a state of their own,” Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “That’s why I support a two-state solution.” Supporting Palestinian aspirations “is in the long-term best interests of Israel, as well as the region.” Yet at the same time, she vows to strengthen relations with Israel’s right wing government. “I have stood with Israel my entire career,” she wrote in an op-ed in The Jewish Daily Forward. “As Secretary of State, I requested more assistance for Israel every year. . . . I defended Israel from isolation and attacks at the United Nations . . . including opposing the biased Goldstone report” (which documented widespread Israeli war crimes during the 2014 assault on Gaza). Clinton's donors include "Hollywood leftists" George Soros, Steven Spielberg, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who have given at least $1 million to Clinton's super PAC.

SANDERS: Given his heritage as the son of a Jewish immigrant from Poland whose family was murdered in the Holocaust, Sanders might be expected to have the strongest ties to Israel. Yet his website claims he does not favor Israel over the Palestinians, nor does he otherwise let his religion influence his positions regarding the 60+ year conflict, which he describes as “depressing and difficult.” He believes that the Palestinians must fulfill their responsibilities to end terror against Israel and recognize Israel’s right to exist. In return, the Israelis must end their policy of targeted killings, prevent further Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Sanders' top contributors include members (or PACs) of the Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union ($105,000), the Teamsters Union ($93,700), the National Education Association ($89,242), and other unions.