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When respecting Palestinians is an outlandish notion Open in fullscreen

Mohammad Ali Musawi

When respecting Palestinians is an outlandish notion

Sanders called for treating Palestinians with respect and dignity [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 April, 2016

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Blog: Bernie Sanders on Thursday proposed the radically outlandish notion that the United States treat Palestinians with "respect and dignity".

During the otherwise uneventful Democratic Party debate in New York on Thursday night, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a "radical" new idea on how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sanders proposed that the United States - Israel's principal political and military enabler - should take an "even-handed" approach to the conflict and treat Palestinians with "respect and dignity".

The self-styled democratic socialist was speaking in response to a question about statements he made in an interview with New York Daily News last week, in which he described Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza as "disproportionate".

Sanders reiterated his belief that Israel's military campaign, which killed 2,251 Palestinians, of whom 1,462 were civilians, and injured another 11,000, including 3,436 children, was in fact "disproportionate".

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also asked if she thought Israel's 50-day assault on Gaza was disproportionate.

Her response was that Israel did not "seek this kind of attack", but is provoked by Hamas into indiscriminately killing Palestinians.

"So when it came time, after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers," Clinton said the Israelis called her to tell her that they were "getting ready to have to invade Gaza, again".

Clinton's answer was a clear attempt to justify the decimation of Gaza over a period of more than a month of military action, the deaths of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of countless homes, schools, hospitals and other facilities.

Pushed by Sanders to answer the question again, Clinton went on to say that while precautions should be taken, Hamas places its weapons in populated areas and dresses fighters in civilian garb.

By this, the former Secretary of State probably means that the 551 Palestinian children killed by Israeli fire in the summer of 2014 had only themselves to blame for being dressed in civilian clothes, because Hamas fighters also sometime disguise themselves as civilians.

Such a doggedly pro-Israeli view at any cost is not surprising coming from Clinton, given her track record.

In 2014, Clinton told The Atlantic that Hamas was "stage-managing" the conflict and coverage of casualties in Gaza.

"What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It's the old PR problem that Israel has," said Clinton.

We should not forget that we are talking about American politics and the sanctified position held by Israel in the country's political discourse.

Even Sanders, the "radical", reiterates his commitment to Israel and constantly speaks of his connections to the country as a child and his family members who currently live there.

Thus, in such a climate, for a US presidential candidate to suggest that Palestinians are worthy of respect and dignity, and that their lives hold value, is an outlandish notion indeed.

Follow Mohammad Ali Musawi on Twitter: @malimusawi

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