Many Bernie Sanders Delegates Protest DNC Platform's Lack of Support for Palestinians

"Our unlimited support for Israel is very unreasonable and it distorts the understanding of the reality on the ground," one delegate tells Reason.


Sanders supporters for Palestine
Reason/Anthony L. Fisher

A big part of the reason Bernie Sanders stuck around in the primary process for as long as he did was to ensure the inclusion of a number progressive issues into the Democratic Party platform that otherwise stood no chance of being included. His stubborn (and often wrongheaded) longevity paid off in a number of ways—he got Hillary Clinton to embrace a $15 minimum wage, for example. But one plank his supporters could not get adopted to the platform was a call for "an end to [Israeli] occupations and illegal settlements" in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Though the five Sanders supporters on the platform drafting committee were able to get the language included in the draft, it was defeated 73-95 at a DNC conference earlier this month, and a substantial number of Sanders delegates have been sporting "I Support Palestinian Human Rights" signs, buttons, and stickers at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to express their dissatisfaction with the party's current policy. 

One of these Sanders supporting delegates, Ayman Eldarwish of Virginia (who described himself as an American-born of Arab descent) told Reason, "We are disappointed that it did not enter the platform of the Democratic Party. We understand the dynamics of our country (but) the justice scale has to find its resting place correctly." Eldarwish added, "Our unlimited support for Israel is very unreasonable and it distorts the understanding of the reality on the ground. There are people without a land and freedom. They have to find their place on Earth, just like the Israelis want." 

Walter Conklin from Rhode Island said he thought the U.S.' position regarding Israel and the Palestinians was "absurd," and that despite the violence perpetrated by both sides, there needs to better recognition of the fact that Palestinians "are people."

Wife and husband delegates Aila Amany and Iyad Afalqa of California—both supporters of the democratic socialist from Vermont—were decked out in Robin Hood hats (get it?)—and told Reason of their disappointment with their party's platform. 

The Jerusalem-born Afalqa says, "Bernie Sanders was the only presidential candidate who acknowledged the human rights of Palestinians. At the same time, he acknowledged Israel's right to exist, and as a Jewish man that was a big deal." He added that he believes the U.S. has a responsibility to be an "honest broker" in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and that some of his fellow delegates were considering leaving the party because they see no hope that a Hillary Clinton administration will be that "honest broker."

Clinton, Afalqa says, will not be a "peace president, she will be a war president," adding that under her husband Bill's administration, "we were not at peace." He cited the sanctions on Iraq as a form of "collective punishment" on civilians and said he would not commit to voting for Clinton in the general election. Afalqa's wife, the Iranian-born Amany, says one reason she supported Sanders in the first place was because he refused to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress opposing the Iran nuclear deal.

The American political relationship with Israel is currently in a rockier state than it has been in decades, which can be seen not only in the pronounced personal tensions between President Obama and Netanyahu—which could very well have lasting implications for the once-intractable alliance between the two countries—but also because young American liberals are increasingly sympathetic to the Palestinian plight and no longer on board with U.S. support for Israel as a default position. 

At this year's American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Clinton went toe-to-toe with the many Republican presidential contenders in attendance in competition for who could be the most vocal supporter of Israel. In contrast, Sanders skipped the event entirely and gave a fairly measured but still controversial speech which condemned Hamas' attacks on civilians and its opposition to Israel's right to exist, but also condemned Israel's bombing campaigns which disproportionately harmed civilians.

Issues relating to the U.S.' handling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are unlikely going to be a dealbreaker for most Sanders supporters come Election Day, but the Palestinian cause has become increasingly important to the Democratic base, and if the unsatisfactory-to-all status quo continues, the issue could end up affecting future Democratic contests.

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  1. This is surprising; the minimum wage wasn’t going to be in the platform until Sanders brought it up? I’ve seldom not heard a Democrat beating that drum toward income equality in an effort to scare up votes.

    1. it seems to be a city-by-city maneuver.

      i think a federal minimum wage hike would be terrible for many rural areas (?theory), and cost dems in congress.

      1. A minimum wage hike would be economically devastating in most of the non-urban South and Midwest, but they aren’t voting Democratic Socialist anyway, so fuck them

      2. It would destroy everywhere outside large metropolises, and even in pretty big cities in Texas. Its effect on teenage and youth employment would be worse.

      3. i think a federal minimum wage hike would be terrible for many rural areas (?theory), and cost dems in congress.

        How many Dem seats have a non-negligible percentage of rural voters who vote Dem now?

        So that ain’t it.

      4. i think a federal minimum wage hike would be terrible for many rural areas (?theory), and cost dems in congress.

        It doesn’t matter. If they get the law, it’s the law. Even if they lose a few seats, the law will be in place and that’s that.

        Remember how the gun laws in Colorado cost the dems? The law is still in place.

    2. Maybe it’s the $15 minimum wage? Clinton had been saying $12 at first.

      1. And that’s exactly what she’ll get.

        Any final mw bill will have stepped increases over several years. Progressives do that because they know that minimum wage is a job-killer. So they literally have to hide and deliver the pain slowly.

        1. *cough*Obamacare*cough*

  2. Show me when the Palestinians ever negotiated in good faith.

    Then show me where any other country was asked to take back people it drove out. Turkey? Russia? Algeria? Would Europe even take back the Jews now?

    1. “We’ve been trying to kill Jews for generations, and now our human rights are being limited! It’s not fair!”

    2. Used to be lots of Prussian farmers who wanted to return to their land – that their ancestors had lived on for a millennium. “Tough Shit” was the Russian answer.

    3. The Palestinian leaders have been, in general, a shitty group of people.

      The “Right of Return” has been a clear manipulation of the Palestinian people and Arabs generally by leaders of other Arab nations who: (a) use it as an excuse to avoid responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian refugees within their borders; and (b), more importantly, as a way to focus their populations’ anger against an external foe rather than at their own incompetent and/or corrupt rule.

      The Arab leaders’ treatment of the Palestinian refugees since 1948 has been absolutely fucking disgraceful. The fact that many Palestinians are STILL stuck in refugee camps nearly 70 years later (three damn generations’ worth) with no rights or real hopes is crazy. THIS is the real catastrophe; anything the Israelis may or may not have done pales in comparison.

      1. This^^

        1. Yup. The other Arabs just don’t want a “solution” for Palestinians, other than the destruction of Israel. If they can’t have that, they’d rather have a bunch of stateless people as an issue. Too bad so many Americans buy into that b.s.

  3. We should definitely devote unlimited resources to the middle east and the Israel question.

    as a never ending policy stance that is.

  4. Wife and husband delegates Aila Amany and Iyad Afalqa of California?both supporters of the democratic socialist from Vermont?were decked out in Robin Hood hats (get it?)?and told Reason of their disappointment with their party’s platform.

    So they dressed like a Crusader, someone who slaughtered Muslims in the Middle East with the blessing of a Pope?

    1. I think you may be confusing Robin Hood with Richard the First.

      1. Most of the modern film versions show him as returning from the Crusades. Some of the older myths and plays do, but it’s spotty.

        1. At the very least he is always loyal to Richard.

        2. Fair enough

      2. He’s thinking Kevin Costner Robin Hood, not Errol Flynn Robin Hood.

        1. Sean Connery Robin Hood too.

          1. And the 2006 BBC TV Series and the Russel Crowe movie.

        2. I bow to your superior knowledge of the Hood genre.

          I had completely forgotten about the Russel Crowe joint.

          1. I don’t know why I know all this. I just do. I’m going to go lie down for a little while.

          2. Because it was ridiculous?

        3. Also, Cary Elwes.

          I believe the animated fox was not a crusader, however.

  5. The “love trumps hate sign” has a really confusing color scheme. “love” should be in Hillary/Sanders blue, and “trumps” and “hate” should be in Republican red. Trump should also be capitalized. Aren’t these people supposed to specialize in things like art and graphic design? Hell, no wonder they’re drowning in student debt.

    1. “Love Trump’s Hate”

      1. A slogan that can unite both parties.

    2. Quit othering their aesthetic sense, man!

    3. This reminds me of a few years ago when students in Quebec were “on strike”. Some McGill students had a “art majors on strike” sign (or some such thing) that was just horrifically ugly. I passed by, but i wanted to suggest that striking may not be such a great idea if, as artists, that was the best they could do.

  6. I get that the Sanders supporters’ use of Robin Hood hats is supposed to demonstrate their advocacy of theft (but it’s from people they don’t like, so it’s okay), but could someone please clarify something for me?

    Isn’t Robin Hood actually a libertarian myth? RH’s robbery isn’t of “the rich,” per se, but of the government, and “the poor” in the story are poor as a result of the oppressive policies of that government. The Robin Hood story seems to me more a cautionary tale about arbitrary use of governmental authority, a lesson that all such authority is premised on the use of force, and the notion that government that uses its authority arbitrary and capriciously, without the consent of the governed, should not be respected or obeyed.

    1. Forget it Derp, it’s CommieTown

    2. Truthfully, I think you can interpret it in fairly different ways depending on which lens you look at it with.

    3. Exactly. Ever since I was little I’ve noticed that it was the government hoarding the wealth, not wealthy businesses and citizens. Guess that’s why I turned out to be libertarian.

    4. Follow the link ? it’s a rather good analysis of Robin Hood as a progressive myth and how Robin Hood and the Peasant’s War were really about the oppressed tax paying economic class struggling against the oppressive tax consuming political class.

    5. I have seen a theory that the Robin Hood stories were actually an early marketing campaign. “Lincoln graine” (NOT green) was a type of red dye developed in the town of Lincoln in the 1200s, and its popularity made a lot of merchants and dyers relatively wealthy, kickstarting the rise of the middle class in that part of England. The stories were always careful to associate the Merry Men with various shades of red (Will Scarlet, Robin’s namesake being a bird with a red chest, etc.).

  7. These foreign-born DNC delegates seem to support socialist causes in other countries that are none of the US government’s business. AS THEIR MAIN ISSUE.

    I hope they get the Trump they so richly deserve.

  8. “Sarah Silverman scolds Bernie Sanders supporters”
    “All the while, Sanders’ supporters chanted “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.”
    This sparked a punchline from Silverman, a Sanders supporters who says she’s now voting for Clinton after the former secretary of state won the delegate battle:
    “Can I just say to the ‘Bernie or bust’ people?” Silverman said. “You’re being ridiculous.”…..415776.php

    Well, in that case…

    1. Wait….was Sarah Silverman actually a speaker at the DNC? I’m just…wow… there are actually people out there who don’t find her voice absolutely grating?

      1. At least she’s easy on the eyes. Not a knockout, but fairly attractive.

    2. I guess for Sarah Silverman that’s a punchline.

    3. Ridicule usually works so well!

  9. I guess they’ll just have to start killing DNC members. They’re frustrated, after all. It’s only fair.

  10. “Israel’s bombing campaigns which disproportionately harmed civilians.” This may be true, but intentions do matter sometimes, especially on questions of morality, and there is no evidence of Israel intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians. Palestinians, on the other hand, pretty much always intentionally target Israeli civilians. It does suck for the Palestinians, but Israel can’t exactly start knocking down their border walls and letting them in. When Palestinian TV shows teach young children to murder all Jews, they don’t have much of a choice.

    1. “Israel’s bombing campaigns which disproportionately harmed civilians.” This may be true,

      Or, it may not. “Civilians” according to who? Hamas? Yeah, I’ll take their word for it.

      Even if it is true, “civilians” and “terrorists” are pretty much one and the same. If Israel had killed nobody but terrorists, the accusation would be the same.

    2. There’s also the issue that groups like Hamas like to use buildings like hospitals and schools as munitions dumps. If you’re standing on top of a school firing rockets, you can’t claim moral superiorty when the guys shooting back at you hits the school.

      1. Especially when the guys shooting back give everyone in the area a warning that they’re about to shoot back and if you don’t want to die you should vacate the area.

      2. Not every day one gets to see gay-loving atheists going out of their way to give some religious fundies a voice, but that’s the lefty bullshit on Palestine.

        Are you not of a western background, culturally or ethnographically? Is someone other than the local regime shooting at you? DEMOCRATS LOVE YOU.

  11. Ya know, just because Israelis continue to elect incompetent governments and practice their own peculiar brand of apartheid and build their own peculiar Berlin walls, doesn’t somehow make Palestinian murderers into heroes. That’s the same kind of thinking that says KKK members aren’t allowed to shoot black home invaders, which fits in perfectly with the Dem philosophy, so I am still amazed that Dems haven’t embraced the Palestinians.

    1. Hey man, how dare you not see this as a black and white issue.

    2. build their own peculiar Berlin walls

      Hilariously inapt analogy. The Berlin Wall was to keep people in and enslaved. The border wall is to keep people out who want to kill Jews.

  12. A little irony occurred to me the other day.

    The Anglosphere Right, vilified as Nazis by the Anglosphere Left, are the only people in the world outside of Israel who would lift a finger to keep Israelis from extermination.

    1. It’s funny how allegiances can change over time. For much of the 20th century, it was conservatives who disliked Jews, and leftists who were all gung-ho for Israel.

  13. What makes the settlements illegal? That the settlers are Jewish.

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