My Reflections on the Bernie Sanders Bill

Children of my Israeli friends and family are on the frontlines of the war against Hamas, and I do not know one individual who wants to be fighting it. But given the current circumstances, it is a war of survival, seemingly the only option right now for protecting Israeli life.

I want the world to help create another option, a peaceful option, that includes a solid plan for Israel’s safety and security. I would love to get behind the calls for “ceasefire now.” But then what?

I see an ancient witch hunt going on against Jews worldwide, harkening back to the tribunals assembled during the Inquisition and other times of racist persecution of Jews. In this global context, and with Hamas explicitly and relentlessly pursuing genocide of Jews and the elimination of Israel, it appears nothing short of suicidal for Israel not to be fighting Hamas.

I unequivocally support Israel’s self-defense – from Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s incessant rocket launches, from Hamas’s explicit calls for the genocide of Jews and destruction of Israel, and from any and all other forms of assault on the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I also condemn Hamas for the outrageous and barbaric assault on Oct 7, and for kidnapping, sex trafficking, and otherwise torturing the Israelis who have been held hostage for over three months.

I additionally recognize an ongoing dynamic in the Arab-Israel relationship that is similar to that of domestic violence, in which Israel is under constant threat from countries surrounding it, and where a pre-emptive strike may be necessary for self-defense.

Side by side with this unwavering support for Israel’s self-defense, I recognize that, no matter how well-intended, human beings and systems are inevitably flawed. To this end, I am deeply pained by, and I condemn, any and all human rights abuses enacted by Israeli individuals, the Israeli army, or the Israeli government. I think it’s critically important to investigate, prevent, and remedy any and all such abuse.

Many Israeli organizations are well-established to this end, and a critical mass of Israeli citizens are passionate about this cause. In fact, prior to the Oct 7 slaughter, Israelis were flooding the streets in protest, demanding numerous social justice reforms in the government. So rather than excessively scrutinizing and potentially revoking support for Israel, as outlined in Bernie Sanders’ bill, I would like to see the US collaborating with and supporting Israeli human rights organizations and activists, bolstering accountability and justice from within the Israeli system.

An Israeli activist friend of mine noted how Oct 7 catapulted the entire nation of Israel into fight/flight, survival mode – leading to a complete shut-down of the protest movement. It is human nature that when our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, are on the line, we are severely compromised in our ability to think about and advocate for others. It is the expansion of breath, not the depravation of oxygen, that empowers us to be our best version of human.

Instead of a punitive model, we need a restorative model.

Like any nation, Israel is not perfect, but it is going to great lengths to wage a defensive war with the lowest possible civilian casualties, putting Israeli lives at risk in the process. Given the extent to which Hamas methodically has interwoven and embedded itself within the civilian population, and given the extent to which Hamas deliberately uses civilians to trick and trap Israeli soldiers, it may be impossible to avoid civilian casualties.

I want to see the world actively supporting Israel in freeing the hostages and neutralizing Hamas, in ways that optimally reduce – or better yet, altogether eliminate – civilian casualties and suffering in Gaza. To work with Israel, instead of against Israel. Is there a way to do this without war? Can we figure it out together?

To do its part in cultivating Middle East peace, I think the world needs to recognize the systemic, entrenched, and ubiquitous forms of racism against Jews, to rally against all those forms of racism, and to unequivocally support the Jewish people and Israel in standing up to that racism. To this end, I think the world needs to recognize the historical dynamics of Arab imperialism and Muslim supremacy, and how those dynamics have contributed to and played out in the Arab-Israel relationship and ongoing conflict. This awareness and commitment need to happen to the same degree that the world currently recognizes the dynamics of Euorpean imperialism and White supremacy, and their insidious influence on geopolitics.

Not with the intention of castigating and punishing, but with the intention of acknowledging and healing.

Right now, I don’t see that happening. Instead, I see racism against Jews ironically coloring the world’s response to racism against Jews, and by extension, to the brutal assault on Israel. Against the backdrop of this environment, where the United States’ support of Israel is critical in ensuring the safety and survival of Israel and the Jewish people, Bernie Sanders’ bill seems not only misguided but also potentially dangerous.

For these reasons, I cannot support it.

**This link takes you to a page where you can automatically email your Congressional representatives, asking them to vote against this bill.**

If you value my writing, please consider becoming a Patreon member, to support my work. You get a week trial, can cancel at any time, and can join for as little as $3/month. You’ll also get discounts off all products in my online store, with albums, books, videos, and merch! Become a KHAZZOOM patron here.

Contact me

Sign up for my newsletter

Contact Me