In last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders said something you don’t often hear in a U.S. presidential campaign. “We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people,” Sanders declared, “with respect and dignity.”
Though Sanders prefaced his statement by assuring Democrats that he is “100 percent pro-Israel,” the statement seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to the one-sided tone that usually characterizes campaign rhetoric on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Indeed, it was only four years ago that then-Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that Palestinians are an “invented” people, while collectively characterizing them as “terrorists.”
Indeed, the norm in presidential campaigns is for candidates to try and out-do each other in expressing their devotion to Israel’s security. In the same debate, for example, Hillary Clinton went to great lengths to decry terrorism by Gaza-based Hamas and offer support for Israel’s right to defend itself.