Friday, April 15, 2016


It has been a joy to hear 2 intelligent and civilized people debate in their runs for the Presidency of the U S.   OK it was not LIncoln Douglas and such.   One has to admit that Sanders/Clinton were civilized and on topic as opposed to the rants on the Rep. side (aside from Rubio and Kasich) and you see where they ended up.

Last night's last debate between Sen.Sanders and Sec. Clinton was a gem of talking to a point(s) and while arguing still remaining civilized ---"adult" if you like as opposed to the upresidential mode of the childlike Trump and Cruz

I was truly impressed last evening by Sanders response to the question regarding Israel/Palestine.  It was an honest idealistic answer that is mostly significant for the fact it was given in NYC where the usual rule that you say nothing negative about Israel.  His comments were fair and balanced (no thanks to FOX for that bit of honesty).   Mrs C.  Well, her response was a wonderful bit of sophistry hoping to please all sides.   Just as a candidate is wont to do.

An excerpt from today's on line New Yorker follows which will put this in perspective for you and, yes, it agrees with my thoughts---or the Mr. Trump might say---"....I said it first..."

Rather than cutting her losses, Clinton brought up the chaos in Syria and appeared to double down on the concept of regime change. “Nobody stood up to Assad and removed him, and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya,” she said. Was she really saying that the United States should have intervened militarily in order to help depose Assad? It wasn’t clear. Nor was it clear that she wanted to defend the decision to go into Libya. Indeed, despite having upheld President Obama’s record all night, she sought to shift the ultimate responsibility for the Libyan venture to him, remarking that “the President made that decision.”

It was a revealing exchange, and things got even more interesting when Blitzer asked Sanders about the Vermont senator’s statement that Israel’s military strikes on Gaza in 2014 were “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.” The question placed Sanders in a tricky and unenviable position. Obviously, he badly needs to win next Tuesday’s primary, and in New York politics, where Jewish voters represent a large bloc, there is an unspoken rule that you don’t say anything negative about Israel. On the other hand, Sanders is the first Jewish politician to get this far in a Presidential race, and he has strong views on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. Which way would he go?

To his credit, he stuck with his principles. After pointing out that he had family members in Israel and had spent a lot of time there as a child, he said, “Of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.” But during the attacks on Gaza, Sanders went on, some ten thousand civilians were injured and some fifteen hundred were killed. “Now, if you’re asking not just me but countries all over the world, was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was.”

After being interrupted by applause from some of his supporters, Sanders continued, “As somebody who is one hundred per cent pro-Israel, in the long run—and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace to that region, which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.” Right now, he said, the unemployment rate in Gaza is about forty per cent, and many of the buildings that were struck in the 2014 attacks haven’t been rebuilt. “Decimated houses, decimated health care, decimated schools. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people. That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think, to an approach that works in the Middle East,” he said.

Coming from a European leader, or perhaps from someone like Jimmy Carter, Sanders’s remarks would have been unremarkable. But, in the context in which they were spoken, they represented a striking departure from political orthodoxy—a fact that some commentators picked up on immediately. “Okay, that was a great Sanders answer on Gaza and Israel,” Slate’s Jacob Weisberg wrote on Twitter. Nicholas Kristof, of the Times, tweeted, “Bravo to Sanders for saying that Israel’s assault on Gaza was disproportionate! Truth in a campaign! Wonders never cease!”

By contrast, Clinton stuck to the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil language that she used in her speech a few weeks ago to AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group. Twice, she declined the opportunity to say that Israel’s response in Gaza was disproportionate. Instead, she argued that Israel didn’t invite the rocket attacks by Hamas that prefaced the bombardment. “I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist attacks, rockets coming at you,” she said. “You have a right to defend yourself.” Clinton also criticized Yasir Arafat for not accepting the peace offer made by the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in the late nineteen-nineties, and said that Hamas had turned Gaza into “a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.”

Sanders wasn’t done with the topic. After criticizing Clinton for paying virtually no attention to the needs of Palestinians in her AIPAC speech, he said that there would never be peace in the Middle East “unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.” Finally, Clinton struck a somewhat more conciliatory note. Recalling how she had supported peace efforts as First Lady, as a U.S. senator, and as Secretary of State, she said that in her discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials she had been “absolutely focussed on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as President I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.”

The exchange was remarkably substantive, but will it make a difference in the outcome of the primary? Probably not—among the Democrats I know in New York, at least, there are few undecideds left to be influenced one way or the other. But it was a welcome reminder that the horse race isn’t everything, and that political taboos are there to be broken. As another veteran commentator, The Atlantic’s James Fallows, remarked on Twitter after the debate, “Bernie S’s pressure in race good for Dems, good for HRC, good for country in broadening acceptable debate—including, tonight, re Palestine.”