Led by Sanders, Democrats vow to press Israel on Palestinian state

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders holds a campaign rally in Detroit, Michigan. (Reuters)
Updated 29 October 2019

Led by Sanders, Democrats vow to press Israel on Palestinian state

  • Senator Bernie Sanders, who rarely talks about his Jewish faith, explained how the murder of much of his father’s family in the Holocaust shaped his progressive views
  • Bernie Sanders: Let me underline this because it will be misunderstood — it is not anti-Semitism to say that the Netanyahu government has been racist. It is a fact

WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential contenders vowed Monday to switch gears sharply from Donald Trump’s hawkish embrace of Israel, pledging they would press for a peace settlement that leads to a Palestinian state.
Half a year after Democratic candidates all shunned the annual conference of AIPAC, the historic pro-Israel lobby, five candidates came in person to deliver a peace message in the same Washington convention center before J Street, a left-leaning group which argues that it is more in tune with American Jews.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who rarely talks about his Jewish faith, explained how the murder of much of his father’s family in the Holocaust shaped his progressive views.
“If there is any people on earth who understands the danger of racism and white nationalism, it is certainly the Jewish people,” Sanders said to thunderous applause.
Rising from his seat on stage to give a campaign-style address, Sanders, who would be the first Jewish president, accused both Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fomenting division.
“Let me underline this because it will be misunderstood — it is not anti-Semitism to say that the Netanyahu government has been racist. It is a fact,” he said.
“We demand that the Israeli government sit down with the Palestinian people and negotiate an agreement that works for all parties,” he said.
Sanders said his message to Israel would be, “if you want military aid, you are going to have to fundamentally change your relationship” with the Palestinians.
He called for some of the $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to be turned into humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip in a “radical intercession” for the packed, impoverished territory that has been under a blockade since it elected the Islamist movement Hamas in 2007.
“Who is going to deny that when youth unemployment is 60 percent, when people have no hope, when people cannot literally leave the region — who can think for a moment that you’re not laying the groundwork for continued violence?” he said.
Trump, whose evangelical Christian base is staunchly pro-Israel, has taken a series of historic steps including recognizing bitterly divided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Trump administration has signaled support as Netanyahu — whose political future is unclear after two inconclusive elections — flirts with annexing parts of the West Bank.
Democratic frontrunners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, both appearing before J Street in video messages rather than in person, said they would oppose any action that closes the door on a Palestinian state.
“If Israel’s government continues with steps to formally annex the West Bank, the US should make clear that none of our aid should be used to support annexation,” Warren said.
Warren said that she would reverse two key measures of Trump — by resuming aid to the UN refugee agency for Palestinians and allowing the Palestine Liberation Organization to unshutter its Washington office.
While not reversing course on the US embassy, she said she would reopen the US mission in east Jerusalem which would become an embassy if a peace deal creates a Palestinian state.
Biden, who had uneasy relations with Netanyahu while vice president, said: “We can’t be afraid to tell the truth to our closest friends.”
“The two-state solution is the best, if not the only, way to secure a peaceful future for a Jewish, democratic state of Israel,” Biden said.
In a scene unimaginable at AIPAC, the mostly Jewish crowd gave a standing ovation to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as he stood on stage to the sounds of U2’s “Beautiful Day” and said of creating a Palestinian state, “Let’s not give up.”
With some 4,000 people in attendance, J Street still had less than a quarter of the turnout of AIPAC, which is itself non-partisan but this year drew a who’s who of Republicans.
J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said he believed his organization was more in line with the US Jewish community, which votes overwhelmingly Democratic.
“If you go to the AIPAC conference and you’re standing and cheering for Trump and Netanyahu, that is one approach.
“This is a conference where you stand up and you fight against what Trump and Netanyahu are seeking to do,” he said.


Egypt footballer gets harassed for sharing photo with his 3-year-old girl

Updated 48 min 35 sec ago

Egypt footballer gets harassed for sharing photo with his 3-year-old girl

CAIRO: An Egyptian footballer has threatened to sue Instagram users who sent abusive messages this week over photos of himself and his three-year-old daughter.
The incident involving Amre Soulia, a player at Al-Ahly football club, has caused a storm on social media in Egypt after comments on his photos triggered widespread anger over harassment.  
The player publicly called out a number of people who had harassed him and his daughter by sharing screenshots of their comments that mainly targeted what the young girl was wearing - a black T-shirt and jeans.
The player is seen holding his daughter’s hand while she smiles back at him.  

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“May God save her for you … but I hope you make your daughter wear respectable clothes because you’re a respectful player,” one user wrote to Soulia.
Another user said: “Cover up your daughter, son, so that she grows to become one (who’s covered).”
Several other sexually-loaded remarks targeted the little girl, prompting the player to take legal action against them. 
“All legal measures were taken and a lawsuit was filed against anyone who insulted me or any member of my family,” Soulia wrote on his social media account. 
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The incident is the latest in Egypt, where sexual assault and harassment are deep-seated problems. 
Egyptian actor Sherif Mounir recently hit out at people who insulted his teenage daughters in a picture he shared of them on Instagram.