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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Bernie Sanders’s failure to back Gaza ceasefire disappoints US supporters

Washington, DC – In a stunning moment during the 2016 United States presidential race, Senator Bernie Sanders called out his then-rival Hillary Clinton for failing to mention Palestinian rights in a speech she delivered to a pro-Israel lobby group.

Standing on stage in a nationally televised primary debate, Sanders highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and criticised the unconditional support that the Israeli government — under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — receives from Washington.

“There comes a time when, if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time,” he said.

It was a rare statement to come from a Washington politician. Few, even among left-leaning Democrats, have questioned whether the United States should reconsider its “unwavering” support for Israel.

But flash forward seven years, and Sanders is now drawing ire from many of his supporters who feel let down by his current stance towards the Israel-Hamas war.

As the Israeli military offensive in Gaza intensifies, killing thousands of children and levelling entire neighbourhoods, Sanders has not called for a ceasefire. Because of his reputation as an anti-war voice, critics say he is uniquely positioned to amplify demands for ending the hostilities in Gaza.

“At a time when Washington is lining up behind those, including the president, who are beating the drums of war, we need leaders with the courage and the legacy of anti-war activism to break that consensus and say all human life is precious by demanding a ceasefire,” said Eva Borgwardt, political director at IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish group.

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