Bernie Sanders: 'This may be Biden’s Vietnam'

Bernie Sanders: ‘This may be Biden’s Vietnam’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) says student protesters are right to question US military aid to an Israeli government “in a destructive war against the Palestinian people.” #CNN #News

 

I’m joined by Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senator, welcome back to the program.
You’ve been very vocal for a long time
on the war on American policy.
And now on these protests
and the crackdown.
But first, I want to ask you,
do you believe President Biden got it
just right?
Or what would you say
in his first comments
about these protests?
Well, he’s exactly
right, is that we don’t want protests
that are violent
and we absolutely
will not tolerate anti-Semitism.
Or Islamophobia, homophobia
or any form of bigotry.
Of course, he’s right on that.
But I think, Christiane,
it is important to understand
why these protesters are out there
and they are out there
not because they are pro Hamas.
They are out there
because they are outraged by what
the Israeli government
is now doing in Gaza,
which is bringing unbelievable, obnoxious
us to
the terrorist organization, to Hamas,
but to the entire Palestinian people.
And that’s why
these anti-war demonstrators are out,
that they do not want to see
a situation continue
where a 110,000 Palestinians out of,
you know,
5% of the population
have been killed or wounded,
where children
now face
starvation, hundreds of thousands
of children face starvation
because Israel is refusing
to allow
humanitarian aid to get to
where it has to go,
where two thirds of the homes
in Gaza have been destroyed
or damaged
with the entire civilian infrastructure,
water, electricity has been annihilated,
educational systems.
Every university in Gaza has been bombed.
So I think it’s important to understand
why these young people are out there
and they are out there
for the right reasons
to protest
US continued military aid and money
to a right wing extremist
Netanyahu government,
which is in a destructive war
against the Palestinian people.
Senator, the last time we had
you on
the program was a few weeks ago
when there was an effort.
Maybe it was successful.
I don’t remember to try to tie
American military aid
to certain
respecting of
international humanitarian law,
the rules of war, etc.
In the interim,
the United States has passed a law
which provides more military
aid to Israel,
along with Ukraine and etc..
And you,
I remember you telling me
not one penny of our money
should they get the Israelis
until they agree to the rules
of the game. What happened
Well, what happened is no
one or
I was unable to even offer an amendment
to the effect
that the United States
should not provide more money
for offensive weapons to Israel
couldn’t even get an amendment
on the floor.
And number two,
by a very strong vote,
Republicans and Democrats
voted to continue funding on Netanyahu’s
war machine.
And what is ironic to me, you know,
we talk
about protesters
at Columbia UCLA, understand
that such as protesters,
a strong majority of the American people
do not want to see
more US taxpayer dollars going
to Netanyahu’s
destruction of the Palestinian people.
We all understand
Hamas is a terrorist organization
that started the war.
In my view,
Israel has the right to go to war
against Hamas.
They do not have a right to go to war
in the way
they are against the Palestinian people.
And most Americans now feel the same way.
Do you feel, Senator,
that and we talked last time
about leverage.
Obviously, America has massive leverage
because of its very strong
FULL-THROATED shoulder-to-shoulder
all those words
alliance with Israel
and all the billions of dollars
that it sends.
But do you think the students
are reacting
to the fact that their government
does not seem to be using any leverage?
Yes, of course.
They all look.
It is one thing
if a terrible tragedy or a terrible war
takes place
in some part of the world
where the United States
really has no involvement,
that is not the case in Gaza.
The United States of America
has historically
and is right now
the legislation that you talked about.
We’re talking about
over 19 billion more dollars
going to Israel,
including a $10 billion,
an unfettered military aid.
So, of course,
the United States government
has the right to say to Netanyahu
just why
you’re not getting another nickel
unless you let humanitarian aid go
in, unless you stop
the imminent famine, which we are seeing,
unless we
move toward a two state solution.
When you are paying the bills, you call
the tunes.
Has the United States government done
that? No, it is not.
And I think students
and the American people understand
that that is very wrong.
You gave a speech on the Senate floor
last night,
and I posted it
and it was essentially
a really important lesson on history,
on protest
and the anti-Semitism
that you’ve just been talking about,
what constitutes it and what doesn’t
tell me in your view.
Where does the where do these protests
fit in the history
of American student protests?
Look,
I must tell you that as a young man,
I was involved
in civil rights demonstrations.
I was arrested
in taking over the administration office
at the University of Chicago
because there was racism
and segregation going on at that time.
The truth of the matter is,
if there had not been protests
and Sit-Ins and demonstrations,
we would not have made the progress
we have made in this country
in combating racism
and ending
the apartheid form of government
that existed in many parts
of the country.
If there had not been millions of people,
mostly women coming out into the streets
and saying that they are sick and tired
of being second class citizens,
they want a right
to control their own bodies,
we have would not have made progress
in the struggle for women’s rights
or if we had not
had demonstrations saying
that we’ve got to end
homophobia in America,
we’ve not
they would not have made the progress
we have made.
Demonstrations
is what, in the right
to dissent, the right to protest.
That is what the First Amendment
of the Constitution of the United States
is all about.
That’s what, in fact,
makes you a free country.
Being a free country
means that somebody goes out
and demonstrates
you have to agree with them.
They have the right.
That’s the difference between autocracy
and dictatorship and a free country.
Mm hmm.
I want to play for you because this
this definition where
where does the line get crossed
between anti-Semitism and criticizing
a government policy on this program?
Last night,
our colleagues
at PBS talked to Kenneth Stern.
He was the person who led the drafting
of of of the bill that would codify this
this definition
for the International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliance.
It is the definition
that stands to this day.
And this is what he said
I jealously guarded the term
anti-Semitism to have a sting.
It has to be used
only in the clearest case.
So I always default to not.
Now there’s a push
to make it almost ubiquitous.
And when everything becomes anti-Semitic,
nothing is anti-Semitic.
And that makes it harder
to fight anti-Semitism.
I wonder what you think of that, given
the fact
that it’s been really politicized
and all sorts of bills
and new laws and things
passing through Congress
and the Republicans is using it a lot
Well, all I would say is
anti-Semitism is a vile,
a vile and disgusting ideology,
which is everybody knows
in the last 100 years alone,
it’s led to the deaths of many, many,
many millions of people.
We’ve got to fight anti-Semitism
in every way that we can
or for anybody to suggest
that we cannot be critical
of the government of Israel
or the government of Italy
or the government of Ireland,
you know,
for whatever
reason is not what democracy is about.
So I happen to believe
not everybody agrees with me
that the war policies of the Netanyahu
government are a disaster
or they are causing unprecedented harm.
They are in violation
of international law
and absolutely
in violation of American law, by the way.
But I think people who are critical,
the idea that people who are critical
of what Netanyahu is doing
are anti-Semitic, that is nonsense.
And that is a very, very dangerous
line to cross in terms
of freedom of expression in this country.
And for our generation
who grew up in the era of never again
and are very, very committed to that.
I think it’s really tough
when we see this word weaponized
and maybe lose its sting
and its importance,
as Kenneth Stern warns.
So I want to ask you.
My question to you is,
what do you think now is going to happen
to Biden and his campaign?
Where do you think
all of this is going to lead?
Because it’s also about American
foreign policy
Well, in terms of
his campaign, you know,
I am thinking back and other people
are making this reference
that this may be
Biden’s Vietnam or Lyndon
Johnson in many respects was a very,
very good
president domestically,
brought forth
some major pieces of legislation
he chose not to run
in 68 because of opposition
to his views on Vietnam.
And I worry very much that
President Biden
is putting himself in a position
where he has alienated
not just young people,
but a lot of the Democratic base
or in terms of his views on Israel
and this war.
So I would hope very much
that from certainly a policy
point of view,
from a moral point of view,
the president supports
giving a blank check to Netanyahu.
And I would hope and on the
hope that they understand
that from a political point of view,
this has not been helpful.
Quite the contrary.
Senator Bernie Sanders, thank
you for joining us.

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