By Zaid Jilani
One of the most appealing qualities of Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidency is how consistent he is. While Hillary Clinton continually faces questions about her changing positions, Sanders is seen as the good kind of broken record; someone who says what progressives want to hear over and over again, for decades.
But there is one issue about which Sanders used to be much more outspoken, and has in recent years become very quiet: Palestine. Considering the elevated role of the Israel-Palestine issue in progressive circles, and Sanders’ continued success leading up to the primaries, it’s worth revisiting Sanders’ history on the topic and his early approach to foreign policy.
Sanders’ defense was that he did not cosponsor the legislation before Congress that praised Israel’s war on Gaza. But his failure to do anything to block it (it passed by unanimous consent) reinforces the idea that while Sanders does hold somewhat dissident views on Palestine, he fails to vote his beliefs.
Since that town hall, questions about Palestine have dogged him. During a panel he held after a massive climate change march in New York City, Sanders was confronted by Palestine activists who unfurled a banner criticizing him for failing to oppose the war against Gaza.
There is some evidence that these criticisms have started to make an impact on Sanders’ approach. In the last month, his campaign finally started to roll out foreign policy platforms on his website. The platform repeats much of the same U.S. foreign policy mantras about the need for a two-state solution and Israel’s right to defend itself, but also condemns “disproportionate” violence by Israel and killings of civilians by the Israeli army. Most notably, the platform calls for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, a topic all but forgotten in U.S. discourse.