Bernie Sanders on Wednesday delivered a speech from Burlington, Vermont to his die-hard fans nationwide, calling on them to continue to support progressive politicians to achieve goals like campaign finance reform, universal healthcare and fixing an unfair criminal justice system.
Absent from his address was any mention of Israel/Palestine or American foreign policy in the Middle East. His own progressive stances on these issues drew many supporters during the Democratic primary, especially ones who felt his rival Hillary Clinton was too hawkish and beholden to Israel. But in the wake of Clinton’s nomination in Philadelphia last month, Sanders has been reabsorbed back into the Democratic party, but appears to have left behind his primary season positions on foreign policy. The speech came as a disappointment to some of Sanders most ardent fans: Arab and Muslim Americans.
“I think it shows a lack of courage,” said Robert Akleh, co-founder of Arabs for Bernie, a Brooklyn-based grassroots group. Akleh, a Palestinian Christian whose family comes from Haifa, said that the foreign policy and domestic policy are also interlinked, given the astronomical cost of U.S. wars in Iraq and elsewhere.
“The problems in the Middle East are getting worse and worse and the amount of blood and money spent are big issues that both sides, corporate dems and progressives, would rather not talk about. We spent over 1 trillion on Iraq. That would have been enough to give everybody health care and all the other stuff this group is fighting for,” he said, referring to the new Sanders-backed non-profit, Our Revolution.