As leading presidential candidates spoke at the Washington gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), promising support and a crackdown on boycotts of Israel, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made a dissenting speech in Salt Lake City, where he spoke up for suffering Palestinians. It received little broadcast media attention.
As Sanders trails Clinton in delegate count, his campaign has effectively been discounted by major media.
The speeches in Washington featured comparisons between the boycott movement and anti-Semitism ( Hillary Clinton), claims that the Palestinians were part of a “culture of death” (John Kasich), promises to shield Israel from U.N. intervention (Donald Trump), and vows to cut off federal funding to universities that boycott the Israeli occupation (Ted Cruz).
In a speech from Salt Lake City, which had been offered as a telecast to AIPAC — an offer that was denied — the Vermont senator reiterated his support for Israel’s security. He also insisted that “peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.”
Sanders called it “absurd” for Israel to pursue more settlements in response to violence. “Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza,” he said. “And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.”
While objecting to rocket attacks by Hamas, he also reiterated that he “condemned the [Israeli] bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps.” He insisted that while Israel is a friend to the United States, “as friends, we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. This is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.”
Watch Sanders’s Middle East speech below:
Sanders’s address stood out in contrast to the remarks from the other four major party candidates left in the race.
Yet a query using the TV Eyes broadcast media search engine found that the text of the speech was mentioned only in a handful of outlets. Unlike the addresses by Clinton and Trump, no major broadcast outlet carried it live. CNN International read a section of Sanders’s prepared remarks in a segment with writer Peter Beinart, a frequent critic of Israeli settlements; Al Jazeera America read a portion of Sanders’s remarks in commentary on the speeches at AIPAC. BBC World played a portion of Sanders’ speech dealing with the need to be friends to both Israel and the Palestinians. Although MSNBC did not cover the speech or its content, Hardball with Chris Matthews featured former U.S. ambassador Marc Ginsberg to explain Sanders’s absence at AIPAC by saying, “Mr. Sanders … has never really extolled his jewishness, much less any support for Israel.”
Sanders did get a chance to expand on his views on the issue during a sit-down interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and a CNN town hall. In both cases, the topic was discussed only briefly. “Overwhelmingly, the United States has time and time again looked aside when Israel has done some bad things,” he said during a two-minute segment with Anderson Cooper.