Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for the United States to leverage military aid to Israel in order to get the Israeli government to “adjust course” from its current activity in the West Bank.
Sanders and Warren both made their remarks during J Street’s national virtual conference on April 18 and 19. Sanders said that it’s “totally appropriate for the United States to say what that aid may and may not be used for” and that “the American people do not want to see that money being used to support policies that violate human rights and treat the Palestinian people as second-class human beings.” Warren similarly argued that it’s important for the United States to look at every option to curb the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in order to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.
“The Netanyahu government may have put aside formal annexation for now, but the continued growth of these settlements and the destruction of Palestinian homes amounts to de facto annexation,” Warren said.
Some Jewish groups criticized Sanders and Warren’s comments. “@SenSanders lost family in Nazi Holocaust. Instead of calling to cut US aid to Israel, home to 7 million Jews/Holocaust survivors, he should demand sanctions against tyrant @khamenei_ir who denies Shoah and plots destruction of Jewish state,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted.
Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) tweeted to Sanders, “Did you know the U.S. already has a say in how its aid is used by Israel?” and pointed to a November 2020 Congressional Research Service paper. The organization’s second question to Sanders: “Do you believe U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority should pay special salaries & benefits to terrorists who murder Americans & Israelis?”
Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), said in a statement, “To advocate, as Sen. Warren does, that the US pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians while the Palestinian Authority condemns Israel’s existence, incites violence against Israel and Jews everywhere, continues its ‘Pay for Slay’ salaries to terrorists and their families, is disgusting.
“The RJC maintains that the United States has been and should be firmly committed to supporting Israel as a legitimate, permanent state in the Middle East, with the same rights to self-determination and self-defense as any other state. Most Americans — and the vast majority of Republicans — agree. Sen. Warren and her radical comrades do not.”
The progressive group IfNotNow, on the other hand, tweeted that Sanders and Warren “are representing the views of the majority of Democratic voters and making it clear that Israel hawks no longer control the debate on where our tax-dollars go.” In a subsequent tweet, the group pointed to polls from Gallup and Center for American Progress.
Warren also called on the Knesset to vote out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him “a corrupt leader who puts his own interests ahead of those of his country.” The Stop Antisemitism.org watchdog tweeted that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “has been in power since 2006. There has been ZERO election[s] since then. Did Elizabeth Warren have any brilliant advice about this or did she save her wisdom solely for the Jew?” Warren did criticize Abbas as “corrupt and increasingly authoritarian” during her J Street remarks.
Writer Yoni Michanie tweeted that Warren’s remarks about Netanyahu “were unbelievably ignorant and insulting. Israelis vote their leaders into office and we do not need foreign leaders to tell us how to be ruled. Jews are no longer a colonized people — we determine our own path forward.”