Bernie Sanders’ self-destruction

Some disturbing Bernie Sanders tweets have surfaced in my newsfeed:

Blaming Donald Trump for this is like blaming Trump for Adam Smith. The economy isn’t “rigged” in this way. It is a capitalist economy and capitalism inherently operates in this way.[1]

Then there’s this:

Bernie Sanders sounds clever here. But,

Tamanisha John has it largely right.[2] The main difficulty is when we declare the end of “the actual viability of a ‘two-state solution’”[3] Binyamin Netanyahu has been prime minister since 2009; as late as 2013, Ben Birnbaum argued that a two-state solution was still possible, but becoming less rather than more likely.[4]

Entous-West-Bank-Settlements-Map
Fig. 1. U.S. State Department map of the occupied territories, with areas available to Palestinians in white, apparently dating to the Obama administration, via the New Yorker, fair use.[5]

I suspect John’s argument depends on a rather distressing map like the one John Kerry showed Barack Obama (figure 1), that shows how much land has been taken away from the Palestinians:[6] Taken as “facts on the ground,” Israeli settlements and other land expropriations indeed present a formidable obstacle to a “two-state solution.” It hardly matters now as Netanyahu’s government seemingly rules out such a solution.[7]

While perhaps not so prominent, the Israeli hypocrisy we see now[8] is longstanding and raises questions about the idea that a peace could ever have been politically possible given the political constraints on both sides. Birnbaum’s argument depends largely on that counterfactual.[9] That’s something we can never know. And in this case, Netanyahu’s government renders the counterfactual irrelevant and Sanders’ tweet myopic.

I have to think that Sanders is attempting to appear less “too far to the left.” But he really can’t help himself by making incoherent and largely indefensible claims.

  1. [1]Max Weber, “Class, Status, Party,” in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 119-129.
  2. [2]Mohamed Mohamed, “Right of return is the heart of Palestine’s struggle,” Electronic Intifada, September 6, 2016, https://electronicintifada.net/content/right-return-heart-palestines-struggle/17856
  3. [3]Tamanisha J. John, [micropost], Twitter, August 17, 2019, https://twitter.com/TamanishaJohn/status/1162856254018117638
  4. [4]Ben Birnbaum, “The End of the Two-State Solution,” New Republic, March 11, 2013, https://newrepublic.com/article/112617/israel-palestine-and-end-two-state-solution
  5. [5]Adam Entous, “The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama,” New Yorker, July 9, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-map-of-israeli-settlements-that-shocked-barack-obama
  6. [6]Adam Entous, “The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama,” New Yorker, July 9, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-map-of-israeli-settlements-that-shocked-barack-obama
  7. [7]Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/; Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
    Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392
  8. [8]i24 News, “Israeli lawmakers to demand official recognition of non-Orthodox movements,” November 5, 2018, https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/187989-181105-israeli-lawmakers-to-demand-official-recognition-of-non-orthodox-movements; Oren Liebermann, “An off-duty police officer shot dead an unarmed black teen, sparking riots. But it didn’t happen where you think,” CNN, July 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/04/middleeast/ethiopia-israel-protests-analysis-oren-intl/index.html; Mohamed Mohamed, “Right of return is the heart of Palestine’s struggle,” Electronic Intifada, September 6, 2016, https://electronicintifada.net/content/right-return-heart-palestines-struggle/17856
  9. [9]Ben Birnbaum, “The End of the Two-State Solution,” New Republic, March 11, 2013, https://newrepublic.com/article/112617/israel-palestine-and-end-two-state-solution

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