tv U.S.- Israel Relations and Middle East Senator Sanders CSPAN March 6, 2017 12:53pm-1:34pm EST
[ applause ] i rarely see the audience so give yourselves a -- hopefully, we will all come out of this meeting, this gathering with a renewed sense of what we can do as individuals and this movement to help bring about social justice and peace in this country in the two countries we love. thanks. >> amen. >> hello. my name is richard goldwasser, a member of j street's board of
directors. it is my privilege and honor to introduce this afternoon a man who needs little introduction. for all of -- for all of us who have followed the political events of the past several years, we feel that we have come to know him on a first name basis. i'm speaking, of course, of the junior senator from vermont, senator bernie sanders. during the course of the senator's presidential campaign, i heard from many who described how his old school jewish inflected brooklyn accent reminded them of their uncle or
grandfather, a familiar and passiona passionate voice, ready to take on tough argument. for me as a jewish chicagoan, it wasn't how senator sanders spoke, it is what he was saying that recalled an earlier generation in my family. his dogged and principled advocacy for the rights and dignity of working people and average americans reminded me of my grandparents and uncle, all labor lawyers, and union organizers, and racine, wisconsin. they worked and fought for an america that would live up to its promise, as a land of freedom, justice and equality for all its citizens. they were clear headed about the challenges and opposition they faced and they refused to give
up. those were their values and that was their tradition. it is senator sanders' tradition and it is our tradition too. those same values have also formed the backbone of the senator's strong support for israel, a country founded by progressive dreamers hoping to build a social democracy. and they have driven him to provide strong support for u.s. leadership towards a two-state solution. during this campaign, senator sanders made clear that the futures of israelis and palestinians are intertwined. he said in one speech, peace has to mean security for every israeli from violence and terrorism. but peace also has to mean security for every palestinian.
it means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the palestinian people. along with secretary clinton, senator sanders helped establish a new standard for informed and helpful discourse on israel and the democratic party as the candidates showed that politicians can win support from pro he's rai israel voters. in this difficult new era, we have entered, with we know that senator sanders will be an important voice standing up to dangerous and bigoted policies, and standing up for leadership that benefits all americans and holds true to our democratic values at home and abroad.
with you here today. it is an honor and a pleasure to be standing with an organization that has shown incredible courage, taking on some very difficult opposition, but understanding that the future of israel and the middle east and the future of this world requires us to fight for sane, progressive, foreign policy ideas. and i'm further delighted to be in the company of friends from israel and from the -- all over the middle east, and in fact all over the world, who i know in these very challenging and difficult times will continue the fight for a world of peace, a world of justice, and a world of environmental sanity.
as i managed to catch a bit of the discussion in the last panel, and one of the panelists made a very, very important point. and that is despair is not an option. now, more than ever, we have got to continue the fight for justice at all levels. and let me note, as i begin, that in the last several months, since donald trump's victory in the presidential race, there has been a significant outbreak of anti-semitism, in our country. i and i know all of you are alarmed about the desecration of jewish cemeteries, about bomb threats against jewish
organizations, and about more and more anti-semitic language. when we see, as a nation, violent and verbal racist attacks against minorities, whether they be african-americans, whether they be jews or muslims in our country, immigrants in our country, or the lgbt community, these attacks must be condemned at the highest levels of government. it was rather extraordinary that in the white house's holocaust remembrance day statement, the murder of 6 million jew was not mentioned by the trump administration.
i hope very much that president trump and his political adviser mr. bannon understand that the entire world is watching, that it is imperative that their voices be loud and clear in condemning anti-semitism, violent attacks against immigrants in this country, including the murder of two young men from india, and condemning all forms of bigotry in this can country and around the world. our nation has had a very, very rocky road in the fight for democracy and in the fight for equal rights, and we have struggled from the inception of
this country to fight against racism, to fight against sexism, to fight against xenophobia and homophobia. and we are telling mr. trump and his friends, loudly and clearly, we are not going back b ing bac are going forwards. we will continue to fight against all forms of bigotry and discrimination. and i must also say that i found it very troubling that at a recent press conference, when president trump was given an opportunity to condemn the bigotry and anti-semitism that has arisen in the wake of his election, he chose to respond by
bragging a inging incorrectly, way, by of size of his electoral college victory. the function of a president, a serious president, conservative, progressive, or whatever, what has always been the function of the president is to bring us together, not divide us up. let me take this opportunity to thank j street for the bold voice that they have provided in support of american leadership in the middle east and ongoing efforts toward peace between israelis and palestinians. i understand and you understand that given the political climate in this capital, that has not always been easy.
i also applaud j street for being part of a broad coalition of groups that successfully fought for the historic nuclear agreement between the united states and its partners in iran. that agreement demonstrated that real american leadership, real leadership, real american power is not shown by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability as the leading and most powerful nation on earth to bring parties together, to forge international consensus.
for many years, leaders across the world, including israeli prime minister netanyahu had sounded the alarm about the possibility of an iranian nuclear weapon. what the obama administration was able to do, with the support of group of groups like j street and others was to get an agreement that froze and dismantled large parts of that nuclear program, put it under the most intensive inspections, regi regime, in history, and removed the prospect of an iranian nuclear weapon from the list of global threats. as a member of the united states senate, as i'm sure you appreciate, i hear a whole lot of speechifying.
every day i hear from many of my colleagues how tough the united states has got to be. and how at the end of the day, military force and tanks and guns and planes are all that matters. well, i say to those colleagues, many of whom have never been in combat themselves, that it is easy to give speeches in the safety of the floor of the u.s. senate or the u.s. house, but it is a little bit harder to experience the hell of war and live through the devastation of war. i recall vividly because i was in the house at the time, about
all of the rhetoric that came from the bush administration, that came from my republican colleagues and some of my democratic colleagues, about why going to war in iraq was the right thing to do. well, it wasn't. in fact, it was one of the great tragedies of modern world history. today, it is now broadly acknowledged that the war in iraq, and i am very proud that i was one of the leaders of the opposition to that war, it is widely acknowledged that that war was a foreign policy blunder of enormous, unthinkable
magnitude. the war in iraq led to the deaths of some 4400 brave american soldiers, and the wounding and i speak as the former chairman of the senate committee on veterans affairs, the wounding of tens of thousands of others, both physical and emotional. not to mention the pain inflicted on the families, the wives and the children of the men and women who suffered. the war in iraq led to conservatively speaking the debts of over 100,000 iraqi civilians and the wounding and displacement of many times more than that. more people than that. it created as you all know a cascade of instability around the region that we are still dealing with today in syria and
elsewhere, and we will be dealing with that for many years to come. and, by the way, that war in iraq cost us trillions of dollars, money that should have been spent on health care, education, infrastructure, and environmental protection. in other words, in other words, it is easy to give a powerful speech about why we have to go to war, but it is far more important that we do everything that we can to solve global conflicts without going to war. the war in iraq, like many other
military conflicts, had unintended consequences. it ended up making us less safe, not more safe. in contrast, the iran nuclear deal, a deal that didn't promote or prompt great dramatic speeches, a deal that was enormously complicated, a deal that took an enormous amount of quiet diplomatic work, that deal helped the security of the united states and our partners. yes, it helped the security of israel as many as israeli security experts have acknowledged. that is the power of diplomacy, that, in my view, is what real
leadership is about. some who oppose this nuclear deal have attacked its supporters, including j street for being part of a so-called echo chamber. the truth is, that here in washington, there has been for many, many years a very loud and powerful echo chamber which called for war. it is about time that we had an echo chamber that called for peace. thank you, j street. as some of you may know, a few years ago when i was a young
man, i had a connection to the state of israel in the sense that i lived on a kibbutz for many months in haifa. it was a powerful experience, something i will never forget. it was there that i saw and experienced for myself many of the progressive values upon which the state of israel was founded. i think it is important for everyone, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution and particularly after the horrors of the holocaust.
but as we all know, there was another side to the story with regard to israel's creation. a more painful side. like our own country, the founding of israel involved the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people already living there, the palestinian people. over 700,000 people were made refugees. to acknowledge this painful, historical fact does not delegitimize israel any -- any more than acknowledging the
trail of tears, what settlers did to native americans delegitimizes the united states of america. but i didn't come here today simply to revisit a history that all of us are familiar with. or to say one historical narrative is wrong and one is right. my question here today, and i think the question on all of our minds is, okay, what now? what do israelis and palestinians do from here on out? what should be u.s. policy to end this conflict that has gone on for so long to end this 50-year long occupation and to
create a better, more secure and more prosperous future for jews and arabs, israelis and palestinians alike. as i think all of you know, this decades long conflict has taken so much from so many. nobody gains when israel spends an enormous part of its budget on the military. nobody gains when gaza is obliterated and thousands are killed, wounded or made homeless. nobody gains when children, children and young men and young women are trained to become suicide bombers. nobody gains when year after
year, decade after decade, the talk is about war and hatred, rather than peace and development. think for a moment about the incredible potential that is being lost when israelis and palestinians are not coming together effectively to address the environmental and economic challenges of that region. and i will remember some years ago, i got a small sum of money, not a whole lot, to bring israelis and people from the region together, from jordan, egypt, other countries, in the to talk about the political differences but to talk about
the major and severe economic crises and environmental crises facing that region. and it was really a beautiful moment to be in a room where sensible people were focusing on the water crisis in that area, how we provide water for people, the future of water. and that has got to be what our goal is. our goal is bringing people together, in the region, to solve the very serious problems that they have. our goal must be to see people come together in peace and democracy, to create a region in which all people, jews and arabs, israelis, palestinians, have the decent life that all human beings are entitled to.
now, i am not naive, i am not naive. and i understand that given the realities of today, that vision, a vision where people come together, in the middle east, the focus on the serious environmental, economic, and social problems that exist, i understand that today that vision appears distant and to some may be far fetched. but it is a vision, especially in these difficult days, that we cannot afford to give up on. so what should we as progress e progressives, american progressives, israeli progressives, and progriessives
globally demand of our governments in bringing that kind of future to the people? let's take a moment to talk about values. it is often said that the u.s. israeli relationship is based on shared values. i think that's correct. but then we have to ask ourselves, what do we mean by shared values? what values are we, in fact, talking about? as progressives, here are some of the values that we share in this country and around the world. we believe in democracy. we believe in equality. we believe in pluralism. we are strongly opposed to xenophobia. we respect and we will protect the rights of minorities.
those are our values. and those values are based upon the very simple notion, the notion that goes back thousands and thousands of years, a notion that is installed in the bible, a notion that says that all human beings, no matter what color our skin, no matter what part of the world we live in, no matter what religion we practice, but that, as human beings, we share a common humanity. and that humanity is no matter where you are, that humanity is that we all want our kids to grow up healthy, we want our children to have the best
education possible. we want our kids to go out and have decent and meaningful and productive jobs. we want our kids to have water that they can drink, which is clean. and air that they can breathe, which is also clean. and we also together understand, we also understand if we continue along the same path with regard to climate change, that planet, in the middle east, in the united states, will in fact not be a healthy planet for our kids and future generations. and sharing those values, our job is to do everything that we can to oppose all of the political forces in our country and around the world who, in fact, are trying to tear us apart.
and this is not just an american phenomenon, this is obviously a global phenomenon. earlier this month, at a white house press conference with israeli prime minister netanyahu, president trump was asked whether he supported a two-state solution. his answer was, quote, i am looking at two state and one state and i like the one that both parties like. well, i think he was thinking that maybe he was being asked whether he liked coca-cola or pe pepsi cola better. that is in the the answer that an american president today should have been giving. we should be clear that two state solution which involves the establishment of a
palestinian state in the territories occupied in 1967 has been bipartisan u.s. policy for many years. it is also supported by an overwhelming international consensus, which was reaffirmed in december by the united nations security council resolution 2334. now, while i understand that the trump administration has walked that statement back, the casual manner in which president trump appeared to abandon the two state policy was extremely concerning, but also unfortunately typical of the carelessness with which he has managed american foreign policy thus far. the president has said that he supports a peace deal, but this
doesn't mean much. the real question is, peace on what terms and under what arrangement? does peace mean the palestinians will be forced to live under perpetual israeli rule in a series of disconnected communities in the west bank and gaza? that is not tolerable. and that is not peace. if palestinians in the occupied territories are to be denied self-determination, in a state of their own, will they receive full citizenship and equal rights in a single state potentially meaning the end of a jewish majority state? these are very serious questions with significant implication for america's broader regional
partnerships and goals. friends, the united states and the state of israel have a strong bond going back to the moment of israel's founding. there is no question that we should be and will be israel's very strong friend and ally in the years to come. there is no debate about that. but at the same time, we must recognize that israel's continued occupation of palestinian territories and its daily restrictions on the political and civil liberties of the palestinian people runs contrary to fundamental american values and, i believe, israeli values as well. as former secretary of state john kerry rightly said in his speech, in december, and i
quote, friends need to tell each other the hard truths, end quote. and the hard truth is that the continued occupation and the growth of israeli settlements that the occupation sustains undermines the possibility of peace. it contributes to suffering and contributes to violence. as the u.n. security council reaffirmed on december 23rd, the settlements also constitute a flagrant violation of international law. i applaud the obama administration's decision to abstain from vetoing u.n. security council resolution. those of us who worry about the future of israel, those of us
who really support israel, have got to tell the truth about policies that are hurting chances of israel and the palestinians reaching a peaceful resolution. now, i recognize that the israeli palestinian conflict is one of the most emotionally fraught issues in u.s. politics. involving as it does the legitimate historical claims, identities and security of two people in the same region. so let me be as clear as i can be. to oppose the policies of a right wing government in israel does not make one anti-israel or anti-semitic.
only for every israeli, but also for every palestinian. it means supporting self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for both peoples. these ideas are based in the very same shared values that impell us to condemn anti-semitic bigotry, condemn anti-muslim bigotry and to make our society a more perfect society. the values of inclusiveness, security, democracy, and justice should inform not only america's engagement with israel and palestine, but with the region and the world. that is what we stand for.
united states will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of the state of israel, but we must also be clear that peacefully resolving this conflict is the best way to ensure the long-term safety of both peoples and for making america more secure. to my israeli -- to my israeli friends here with us today, let me say that we share many of the same challenges. in both of our countries we see the rise of a politics of bigotry, and intolerance and resentment. we must meet these challenges together, as you struggle to make your nation better, more just, more egalitarian, i want to say to you, your fight is our
fight. thank you, all, very much. ♪ >> today, stephen love grove, the uk's permanent secretary in the ministry of defense, outlines the uk defense strategy and future of transatlantic relations with the u.s. his remarks at 3:30 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. >> tonight, on the communicators, morgan reed, executive director of the app association which reps 5,000 app developers. what its members hope to see
from congress in the trump administration. mr. reed is interviewed by politico technology reporter lee zo. >> the app association was among the member of the tech community that decided to speak out against aspects of president trump's immigration order. i was wondering if you could talk about the reasoning behind that? >> from our perspective, the executive order was not done in a way that allowed for legal immigration of people into the country in a way that wasn't confusing. it was good to see the order changed to allow green cardholders to allow others who have been in the united states, who have been building amazing applications, to come in. so there is good in that, but the reason we spoke out is we thought the little guy, just how important immigrants were to the little guy, wasn't getting heard. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. and now, the senate commerce committee sits