by David Rosenberg
Ex-Alaska senator running for Democratic presidential nomination accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing, demands Israel become binational state.
|Mike Gravel at 2007 event in South Carolina Reuters|
With 22 declared candidates now running for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination for 2020, candidates are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd.
One decidedly long-shot candidate did just that this week, staking out an unabashedly anti-Israel position, calling the Israeli government a “racist regime”, accusing the Jewish state of “ethnic cleansing”, and calling for Israel to be changed from a Jewish state into a binational one.
Eighty-eight-year-old Mike Gravel, a former US Senator who represented Alaska from 1969 to 1981, joined the crowded Democratic field in April, making his second bid for his party’s presidential nod. Gravel ran for the 2008 presidential nomination, coming in seventh place behind Joe Biden and just ahead of Christopher Dodd.
In a tweet published Monday, following a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel ending two days of rocket attacks and Israeli retaliations, Gravel accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and warned that the “bloodshed… will not cease” until a binational state is established in “Palestine and Israel”.
“The bloodshed in Palestine and Israel will not cease until the fundamentally unjust existing structure is jettisoned. We cannot support a right-wing racist regime committed to annexation and gradual ethnic cleansing. There must be a binational state with equal rights for all.”
A few Democratic presidential hopefuls offered support for Israel, while most refrained from commenting on the two days of Hamas rocket attacks which left four Israelis dead and a hundred more injured.
“The random rocket fire by Hamas into Israel must stop,” said former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “My heart goes out to the families of the Israelis killed, and those wounded in these grievous attacks. I call on all parties to show restraint and de-escalate this situation immediately.”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said he supported “Israel’s right to defend itself, full stop,” condemning Hamas as a “terrorist organization that actually suppresses its own people”.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet also backed Israel’s “right to self-defense against terror groups inside Gaza. Launching rocket attacks against innocent civilians is unacceptable and we mourn the lives lost.”
This week wasn’t the first time Gravel has condemned Israel.
In a 2011 article for the far-left organization CodePink, Gravel accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and accused American Jews of supporting “organizations and candidates upholding Israeli discrimination”.
“Israel continues to build on the ethnic cleansing it perpetrated in 1948. The colonization effort in occupied Palestinian territory is thriving under Netanyahu.”
In a 2007 Democratic presidential debate, Gravel chided then-senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for their criticism of Iran’s funding Hezbollah and Hamas.
“I want to touch something that they're all giving license to, that there's something wrong with Iran supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. These are two elected organizations, and — and why can't they give support to those organizations? Israel doesn't want it, so why do they buy hook, line and sinker that they can't give aid to Hamas and Hezbollah? We give unlimited aid to Israel. These people are fighting for their rights.”
In subsequent comments, Gravel said the terrorist groups “wanted their country back, and are fighting for it,” comparing Hamas and Hezbollah to American Revolutionary soldiers.
“Were the American Revolutionaries at Concord and Lexington, were they terrorists?”
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