In today’s U.S. politics, nothing acts more like a barometer than the positions taken on the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Through the blood, sweat and tears of loved ones martyred or forced to leave their homeland, Palestinian lives have exposed the hypocrisy of empire.
The U.S. sends more than $3 billion to the Zionist state of Israel each year, funding that serves to suffocate the Palestinian people. Israel sees its existence as highly dependent on the U.S. So it is no surprise that the annual conference of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the premier lobby and promoter of Israeli interests in the U.S., is a major showplace for presidential candidates. This year’s elections have been called an “election of extremes,” because Trump’s open white supremacy and Sanders’ “socialism” have begun to widen the polarization in U.S. politics.
Clinton, touted as the “moderate” Democrat, proudly stood to the right of Trump, the right-wing demagogue, by claiming that she would actually “stand up” for Israel, unlike Trump who she claimed would remain neutral. Clinton’s speech was so unapologetically pro-Israel that she even called for a “fight back” against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. “As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS…To all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, I hope you stay strong. Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.” This was really a call from the Democratic front-runner to smash the BDS movement.
Trump is the epitome of U.S. capitalism, white supremacy and imperialism and his hawkishness is no surprise. His appeal largely hinged on a promise to tear-up the negotiated agreement between the U.S., its allies and Iran. It is clear that a Trump presidency will only continue to strengthen the war-hungry military and political establishment.
Sanders was the only major candidate not to appear at AIPAC, stating that campaigning in the West prevented his personal appearance. The AIPAC organizers refused his request to speak via video. Sanders then issued a written text. In it, Sanders stated his commitment to Israeli and the ongoing colonial occupation of Palestine. “Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we—as a nation—are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to make sure that its people have a right to live in peace and security,” were one of the opening comments made by Sanders. Throughout his speech, he makes clear that the current approach by the Obama administration to the Middle East, headed by the more “rational” wing of the ruling class, is the best approach.
At the same time, it is important to note that Sanders, unlike any other candidate who spoke at the conference or who have addressed AIPAC in recent history, spent a major part of his talk addressing the need to respect the rights of Palestinians. He pointed to their right to water, a basic human need, and an end to the illegal settlements by the Netanyahu administration. The mere fact that such mild acknowledgment of the basic rights of Palestinians is considered unique points to the extremely racist, anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli fervor that dominates U.S. bourgeois politics. And while we must acknowledge the importance of such comments by Sanders, he does not call for supporting the right of Palestinians or people in the Middle East to determine their own future free from the clutches of U.S. Empire.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation is closely studying the political moment we are in. We are encouraged to see the response by masses of working class people of all backgrounds, especially the youth, towards the Sanders campaign and a revived mass discussion of socialism. Additionally, the growing fight-back against Trump and the rising fascism he represents, are signs of the victories possible in the coming period.
However, we must not lose sight of the fact that more and more people are demanding systemic change, not more empty rhetoric. The Republicans and the Democrats, from Trump to Clinton to Sanders, adhere to the core of U.S. imperialist interests in the world. They all want to maintain what countless innocent Palestinian lives have proven to be inhumane and unjust. If we, as a class, are to win, and not lose ourselves in appearances, we must be clear on what revolutionary socialism is. We in the PSL say, “End Israeli Colonialism! Long Live Palestine! U.S. Out of the Middle East!”
Learn more about our presidential campaign at www.VotePSL.org