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Weingarten: Bernie Sanders is right about the Israel-Hamas war

Opinion+Editor+Caleb+Weingarten+discusses+why+Sen.+Bernie+Sanders+is+right+about+the+Israel-Hamas+war.+
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
Opinion Editor Caleb Weingarten discusses why Sen. Bernie Sanders is right about the Israel-Hamas war.

Some who read the title of this article will be stunned by the mere suggestion that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may be correct about something. However, I have seen an overlap between those on the left and right who believe true change exists in peace, not perpetual war. Sanders, whether one agrees with his policy ambitions or not, exemplifies this spirit. He was effectively ousted by the Democratic Party for his aggressive campaign against organized and systematic corruption, which finds its foundations in both parties. It is on this point I find agreement with conservatives about Bernie Sanders, and I see these same agreeable motivations in his opposition to the Israel-Hamas war.

While I am disappointed to see he did not directly endorse a ceasefire, his choice of words signals that he is against the war effort.

Sanders begins by clearly stating the fact that Hamas committed atrocities in the form of terror attacks on innocent people within Israel’s borders. This is a fact that, so far as I can tell, can not be disputed. With that being said, Sanders then suggests that Israel is taking a dishonorable approach in its response to Hamas’ attacks.

Sanders also does not shy away from adding necessary context, namely adding the claim that Israeli conduct toward the Palestinian people in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza (east Jerusalem as well, although Sanders does reference it directly in the article) is unacceptable and most certainly plays a crucial role in provoking attacks upon Israel, regardless if the actions are justified or not. Everyone can agree that a unique level of horror was displayed Oct. 7, but this fact should not blind us to the suffering of other people who, according to Sanders, routinely undergo “daily humiliations of occupation” and merely survive in “horrendous living conditions.”

As I wrote previously on my Substack, respected conservatives such as Peter Hitchens have described Israel’s response as “militarily useless and politically disastrous.”

Condemnation does not have to derive from partisan commitment. We can be honest about the situation and benefit immensely from this enlightened clarity. Hamas will not be eliminated through an aggressive bombardment and siege. Ideology can not be neutralized by force alone. Palestinians must be able to see a positive future without Hamas, and this means that Israel plays a crucial role in the formation of Palestinian opinion. So long as Israel continues to follow through on its inept campaign of destruction, the end goal of exterminating Hamas will have proved to be a fruitless endeavor. Killing and expelling innocent people is not a surefire way to generate sympathetic, pro-Israeli sentiment.

On this idea, Sanders writes, “Israel has done nothing in recent years to give hope for a peaceful settlement—maintaining the blockade of Gaza, deepening the daily humiliations of occupation in the West Bank and largely ignoring the horrendous living conditions facing Palestinians.”

If what Sanders describes continues to be the reality that Israel pursues, there will be no chance of a peaceful resolution. While none of us have a simple solution to this conflict, any deliberation over such a solution must not be done through senseless acts that produce nothing else but blood and aftermath.

Sanders’ most immediate solution is as follows: “To start, we must demand an immediate end to Israel’s indiscriminate bombing, which is causing an enormous number of civilian casualties and is in violation of international law. Israel is at war with Hamas, not innocent Palestinian men, women and children. Israel cannot bomb an entire neighborhood to take out one Hamas target. We don’t know if this campaign has been effective in degrading Hamas’s military capabilities. But we do know that a reported 70 percent of the casualties are women and children, and that 104 U.N. aid workers and 53 journalists have been killed. That’s not acceptable.”

Sanders also mentions the importance of a new government in Gaza, one with a vision for a future of peace. With this, “Israel must [also] make certain political commitments that will allow for Palestinian leadership committed to peace to build support.”

Additionally, “For the sake of regional peace and a brighter future for the Palestinian people, Gaza must have a chance to be free of Hamas. There can be no long-term Israeli occupation.”

Fair enough. These conclusions are reasonable and, in my view, reinforce the idea that cooperation is necessary for peace. As we can see from the recent truce between Israel and Hamas, there are ways, however incremental they may be, to resolve this conflict peacefully. Is absolute, permanent peace ever possible? No one person can confidently answer that question. However, if our pursuit for peace is unwavering, I believe progress is possible. Imposing a menacing assault is not a reliable method to restore any kind of peace. It is certainly a path of no return.

Montesquieu, for good reason, said that “an empire founded by war has to maintain itself by war.”

War and the nationalist “amour propre” will only constitute an opposite reaction. A retaliation, which may be the same in nature, is an opposition in core motivation.

While Sanders’ piece is a good start, the overarching goal remains the same. A ceasefire and equal support for diplomatic resolution is the only path to ensure the most minimal amount of suffering occurs. At this moment, where the pain and contents of war are so visible for the world to see, the future looks dim.

It is impossible to embrace peace in a world of incessant violence.

Note: At the time of writing this, the Israel-Hamas truce is in effect. It is my hope that people see negotiation is possible and further violence can be discarded.

If readers want to look more in depth at the information which informs my articles, look to my Substack for extended footnotes. I discuss important features of my article, including why I argue Gaza is an occupied territory.

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Comments (11)

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  • K

    Kafantaris George | Jan 16, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    Sure not making many friends — or improving our lot — by blindly supporting Israel. How about we pause to set some limits?

    Reply
  • A

    A. | Nov 28, 2023 at 9:03 am

    As a Sanders supporter I was hoping he would call for a ceasefire. Although, I felt he did a good job at explaining his stance regarding this awful war.

    Reply
  • .

    . | Nov 28, 2023 at 7:15 am

    That’s the part of the article that really got you fired up? Wow.

    Reply
  • J

    john | Nov 27, 2023 at 9:47 pm

    What is this crap about Sanders being ousted by the Democrats because of corruption? Are you in some right-wing haze of confusion?

    Reply
    • .

      . | Nov 28, 2023 at 7:08 am

      That’s the part of the article that really got you fired up? Wow.

      Reply
  • E

    EE | Nov 27, 2023 at 10:32 am

    Once hamas surrenders there will be peace

    Reply
    • .

      . | Nov 27, 2023 at 12:05 pm

      you don’t know your history

      Reply
  • R

    Renate Dellmann | Nov 27, 2023 at 8:10 am

    we all would like peace between the Palestinians and Israeli. As long as it is the official goal of the Palestinians to destroy the State of Israel and drive the population into the sea, there will be no peace.
    Besides, have we heard any peace offer from the Palestinian side lately or ever? Or demands from the world that HAMA Smake peace?

    Reply
    • N

      Nikki | Nov 28, 2023 at 7:13 am

      So far, these comments are so disappointing. Wake up people!

      Reply
  • L

    Larry Thomas | Nov 26, 2023 at 9:17 pm

    Hamas must be destroyed; otherwise, Israel will be facing and fighting the same group again and again. As much as Sanders and other peaceniks, including the author, would like the fighting to stop it must continue until Hamas and its supporters are no longer around.

    Reply
    • .

      . | Nov 27, 2023 at 10:20 am

      Israel commits atrocities almost daily in the West Bank and has exclusive power over Gaza. The author also said that Hamas would need to go but the continuation of what has gone on is too much. Too many innocent people are dying, I do not see what is hard to understand about that.

      Reply