Alex Kane, Jewish Currents

[Progressives are often caught in a bind. We want our politicians to vote and champion according to their stated values. And when they don’t, it’s easy to condemn them for making a choice with an opaque upside. Much better to hold them accountable. 

But in this case, we can see what is happening behind the scenes. Thanks to Alex Kane’s reporting, we know that Sen. Sanders didn’t simply cave by voting for more money for Israeli armaments, he leveraged his support to advocate for more aid to Gaza, which continues to be victimized by the Israeli blockade. As progressives, we don’t always get the votes we want from our favorite electeds. But we should always demand integrity. Is that what is on display here? We think it’s a question worth pondering.  — Progressive Hub.]

Ahead of a Senate vote that is expected to authorize an extra billion dollars in military aid for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, Senator Bernie Sanders’s office says Sanders has secured a commitment from Democratic leadership that the US will also send additional humanitarian funds to Palestinians in Gaza, the coastal enclave devastated by Israel’s aerial assault this spring.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer obtained by Jewish Currents, Sanders seemed critical of the Iron Dome funding, which would fulfill an Israeli request for targeted aid to the program on top of the $3.8 billion in US military aid that goes to Israel every year. While acknowledging that Iron Dome “saves civilian lives from missile attacks,” he also noted that the anti-rocket system was already “fully funded” by the US, and that the US gives Israel “more [aid] than any other country in the world.” But Sanders is also planning to vote “yes” on Iron Dome, leveraging his vote in exchange for leadership’s backing of the humanitarian relief.

“A goal here is to make clear that it’s no longer acceptable to keep sending billions in military aid to Israel without any debate, and without any acknowledgement of the violence endured by Palestinians living under occupation and blockade,” said Matt Duss, Sanders’s foreign policy advisor.

Bernie Sanders & Gaza
Credit: Hosni Saleh,

The move returns Sanders to a familiar role: that of the US Senate’s foremost advocate for increased aid for Gaza, to address the territory’s Israeli-imposed economic and humanitarian crisis. But it also serves as a reminder of the Palestinian rights movement’s weak foothold in the Senate. Palestinian rights advocates have spent the past few weeks pushing progressives to vote “no” on Iron Dome funding, arguing that additional military aid fuels Israel’s ability to carry out its policies of occupation and apartheid without facing accountability. Sanders, however, is not following their lead. In fact, it’s unlikely any Senator will vote “no” on the funding.

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