Bernie Steers Progressives into Mideastern Sands


    A bitter divide over the Middle East could threaten Democratic Party unity as representatives of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed to upend what they see as the party’s lopsided support of Israel.

    Two of the senator’s appointees to the party’s platform drafting committee, Cornel West and James Zogby, on Wednesday denounced Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and said they believed that rank-and-file Democrats no longer hewed to the party’s staunch support of the Israeli government. They said they would try to get their views incorporated into the platform, the party’s statement of core beliefs, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

     From the link, Mr. Wexler: "The Democratic platform is not the venue in which to litigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

    Note to Bernie, the DNC platform will not help the US bring peace to Palestine, or solve any of the multitude of conflicts in the Middle East. Which do need solving.

    Many are familiar with Cornel West. Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

    The University which recently refused to remove the name of the known racist Woodrow Wilson from one of its divisions. Wilson, who instituted segregation in the federal services when he became President,

    Cornel West is a known militant ideologue and grand stander and only represents the views of a small minority of far left Democrats. West was upset when a hotel worker had a ticket to Obama's inauguration, but not himself. And West said Obama feels more comfortable around Jews and whites than "free black men".

    Comment from link on Sanders choice Cornel West:  

    Someone who challenges the African American identity of President Obama with vile stereotypes deserves no place on any party's platform committee. I defy any progressive/liberal to honestly defend those inflammatory comments and still maintain a shred of intellectual integrity. The cause of progressivism is done a tremendous disservice for which there will certainly be a price....West, like Sanders, is an admitted socialist. Out of necessity though, Sanders has chosen to run for president as a democrat. West, however, does not even call himself a democrat and has no place serving on a committee for a party that he is not a member of.

    Bernie's other appointee, James Zogby, of the Zogby polls family, is a 64 year old Catholic of Arab background, born in Utica New York.

    James Zogby also pretends to know that Islam and cultural failures are not the problem in the ethnic genocide and clan/tribal conflicts across the Middle East, and one could add south Asia and northern Africa.

    Perhaps he should report from the ground in the region and see how Catholics are treated, for their religion, under ISIS interpretation of Sharia religious law.

    Perhaps Zogby knows that Islam is not the problem when a moderate Muslim runs for Mayor of a major world city and is condemned by Imams in that same country for unIslamic behavior and beliefs.

    Israel, though, is always an easy target.

    Israel, where 1 1/2 million voting citizens are Arab, safe from wholesale slaughter from other Muslims, and where their families, cities and mosques are protected from being blown up by Islamist fanatics.

    Where 'the occupation' of the Gaza Strip ended with Israel leaving Gaza in 2005.

    The Israeli's left - and left homes, greenhouses- but instead of peace, they received rockets, terror and tunnels.

    Suggestion for Bernie: Stop shouting and attacking the Democratic Party and Hillary and do something progressive for average Americans – your time is rapidly running out.


    The bit on West seems accurate enough, but I think you misrepresent James Zogby. Re-read his comments. He'ss discussing the majority of Islam not being fanatic, not disclaiming any Muslims as crazed.

    Zogby derides criticism of Arab/Islamic culture by creating straw men who he says say stuff like: " they have failed because their religion is fundamentally backward" or "they have failed because their culture is inherently flawed".

    Ergo, we are led to conclude neither the religion nor the culture has flaws. He doesn't mention any.

    He doesn't mention Saudi Arabia, or Wahhabi Islam....the stonings, beheadings, hand chopping, women burning, banning conversion from Islam with death sentences. Killing of bloggers or gays.

    Export of Jihad with Saudi, Dubai Qatari money to formerly moderate Islamic societies like Kosovo. See article on radicalization with Gulf oil money and Imams from 5 days ago at NYT.

    Of course if Zogby criticized the Saudi's his feel good pablum surveys there would be banned.

    A Catholic born in Utica who makes a very good living touting a particular line of 'educating' America about how bad Israel is and how harmless Arabs are is not a go to guy to get to the heart of the problems across the region.


    James Zogby defends Saudi Arabia, 2005.

    Saudi Arabia Under Attack by Dr. James Zogby

    In a bizarre speech before a Prague conference I attended, Woolsey observed that the US is "at war today with three major ideological movements" which he identifies as: Ba'athism, Shi'ite theocratic totalitarianism, and Sunni theocratic totalitarianism (of two types: "Jihadist and Salafists such as al-Qaeda and loyalist Salafists, such as the Wahhabis.) ...Woolsey describes Wahhabism as a totalitarian movement which he compares to Nazism and Communism. Shameful, yes, but also dangerous...

    A more real world take on Wahhabism, New York Times 11/2015:

    Black Daesh, white Daesh. The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things. The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia. In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other. This is a mechanism of denial, and denial has a price: preserving the famous strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia at the risk of forgetting that the kingdom also relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on......

    These two Sanders platform nominees will create nothing but trouble and division at the DNC.

    They are not go to guys for anything. Not what the progressive movement needs as policy makers.

    Well gee, objecting to Wahhabi'ism being portrayed as akin to Nazism - Zogby certainly is out of line. 

    There are plenty of outlets documenting Muslim excesses. Zogby's role is to balance this with factual reporting of non-fanatic beliefs. His poll showing most Saudis think bin Laden doesnt reflect Saudi values is useful not to pretend al qaeda doesnt exist or that they dont have support high up, but that the vast majority are not sympathetic, and that any anti-Americanism seems largely confined to our maddening go-it-slow approach to fixing Palestine. He'll be fine working on the Dem platform - hardly a brigand.

    If you judged all Americans by our foreign policy and leadership, you'd have a pretty awful view of us. Some is deserved, some not so, but it's a pretty narrow metric. Saudis are not waking up looking for someone to stone or cut off their hand. They do have issues reconciling a strict interpretation of medieval scripture with a steadily evolving modern view of the world, and that conflict is present in women protesting driving restrictions and other efforts. Hopefully they'll have some Arab Spring within the next decade. The oil glut due to fracking is certainly pushing them to modernize their economy and outlook on where the world's heading. Demonizing them doesnt help, nor does ignoring backward practices and role in supporting Daesh. Russia supports Assad, or at least Putin does, which doesnt make me think all Russians are complicit with Baath'ist totalitarianism and strongman tactics, though there might be some cultural affinities - just another tsar. Still, many Russians are quite modern, democratically, economically, technically...

    Thanks PP.

    A Catholic Arab born in Utica who defends theocratic authoritarian rule in Saudi Arabia, and intolerant Wahhab'ism to boot, would seem a very rare bird indeed.

    Saudi Arabia does, for instance, have the death penalty for importing Bibles, along with much of the same punishment 'stuff' ISIS does to 'non-believers', see link from NYT. You will find far more tolerance inside the borders of both Israel and Russia.

    Zogby, a quirky guy, like West, and like Sanders. Gotta hang your hat somewhere. Doubt any of them is going to lead a revolution however.

    Yes, SA has very hardcore religious-based laws, as do other Muslim theocracies. Doesnt change what I said, does it.

    Could never dispute what you say or said. Main point is that Bernie picked two people who are of doubtful use in uniting the Democratic Party, and advancing a progressive agenda in the US.

    That Hal or anyone else did not help illuminate the bright side of the appointments  hasn't assured me Bernie knows what he is doing.

    Frankly I have to wonder about 'feel good' 'they are like us, hate Israel policy' polls run by a US born ethnic Arab of Arabs.

    Are the polls intended to airbrush or even obfuscate the mindset and support of Islamism/Wahhabi'ism/Jihad?

    At this stage of the Middle East, since Muslims are killing each other wholesale in the hundreds of thousands, from Libya to Pakistan, it is hard to promote the idea that Hamas/Hezbollah/Wahhabi's would ever sing Kumbaya arm in arm with Jews...'if only Israel would ....'

    Maybe 25 or 30 years ago it would have worked.  Maybe not.

    Maybe Israeli's know more about Arab culture than the US does or ever did. More than will ever be examined in a Zogby poll.

    We killed 600,000 in the Civil War - talk about a primitive people.  If you say "Shiites" and "Sunnis" and "Ba'ath" and "Salafists" and "Sufis" and "Wahabbi" you clue in on the fact that "Islam" is not a unified religion, just as Protestants and Catholics fought each other in Northern Ireland and Texas protestants fought back Mexican Catholics, and Croatian Catholics fought Serbian orthodox, while Russian orthodox fought Polish Roman Catholic.

    Maybe Israelis know about Arab culture or maybe they know everything but what's essential to bring peace. Forget kumbaya - razing people's homes and cramming them into a 25 x 6 mile zone that you then take another 17% from as buffer and deny most sea access will likely continue to generate conflict. And doing nothing to promote peace over a decade doesn't really reassure others that you're serious about peace.

    Re: Syria, the US largely fomented these uprisings, thinking it was an easy way to promote regime change, but the change didn't come so easy, and then our "freedom fighters" turned out to have more in common with radical Wahabbist values. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose....

    Similar with Iraq - it may not have been pretty, but it was functional and overall not too threatening. Once we proved they were de-armed in Jan/Feb 2003, a large headache was gone. Until we went and created a massive one a month later. Blame the Arabs for us destabilizing their country - yeah, the Israelis understand "chutzpah" plenty well.

    Israel left Gaza, and hundreds of intact structures, agricultural resources/greenhouses, many of which were looted within days of withdrawal in 2005. Gaza elected Hamas terrorists to run the place. Egypt has a wall around Gaza too, and floods the tunnels, as Hamas in Gaza exports weapons to terrorists in Egypt.

    We did worse to Vietnam than Iraq.  There were never suicide Vietnamese bombers blowing up aircraft or gunning down concert goers, roaming the world to create mayhem.

    There are problems with 'the culture'.

    This post is about Bernie, progressive policy within the US, I will not comment any more on Israel or the history of US foreign policy.

    WTF?  "The Battle of Huế began on January 31, 1968, and lasted a total of 26 days. During the months and years that followed, dozens of mass graves were discovered in and around Huế. Victims included women, men, children, and infants.[1] The estimated death toll was between 2,800 and 6,000 civilians and prisoners of war.[2]"

    I'll spare you photos, but captions read:

    "The bodies of 2 boys and a man lie in the street following a Viet Cong grenade attack that killed 7 persons and wounded 47. The grenade was tossed into a helicopter on display at Saigon City Hall on Republic Day, Oct. 26, 1962"

    "Injured Vietnamese are treated as they lie on the street after a bomb explosion outside the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam on 30 March 1965. Two Americans and several Vietnamese were killed in the bombing - AP Photo/Horst Faas."

    Ho Chi Minh killed at least in the tens of thousands of civilians in his "agrarian reform" in the mid-50's.

    Etc., etc.

    Re: Greenhouses, here's Wikipedia:


    A widespread opinion has it that Israel left Gazans with a generous endowment consisting of a rich infrastructure of greenhouses to assist their economic regrowth, and that this was immediately destroyed by the Palestinians.[42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49] Two months prior to the withdrawal, half of the 21 settlements' greenhouses, spreading over 1,000 acres, had been dismantled by their owners, leaving the remainder on 500 acres, placing its business viability on a weak footing. International bodies, and pressure from James WolfensohnMiddle East envoy of the Quartet, who gave $500,000 of his own money, offered incentives for the rest to be left to the Palestinians of Gaza. An agreement was reached with Israel under international law to destroy the settlers' houses and shift the rubble to Egypt. The disposal of asbestos presented a particular problem: some 60,000 truckloads of rubble required passage to Egypt.[50]

    The remaining settlements' greenhouses were looted after the transfer for 2 days for irrigation pipes, water pumps, plastic sheeting and glass, but the greenhouses themselves remained structurally intact, until order was restored.[33][49][51] Palestinian Authority security forces attempted to stop them, but did not have enough manpower to be effective. In some places, there was no security, while some police officers joined the looters.[52][53] The Palestine Economic Development Company (PED) invested $20,000,000 and by October the industry was back on its feet.[49] Subsequently the harvest, intended for export via Israel for Europe, was essentially lost due to Israeli restrictions on the Karni crossing which "was closed more than not", leading to losses in excess of $120,000 per day.[52] Economic consultants estimated that the closures cost the whole agricultural sector in Gaza $450,000 a day in lost revenue.[54] 25 truckloads of produce per diem through that crossing were needed to render the project viable, but only rarely were just 3 truckloads able to obtain transit at the crossing, which however functioned only sporadically, with Israel citing security concerns.[49] It appears that on both sides corruption prevailed, such as instances of Gazans negotiating with Israeli officers at the crossing and offering for bribes to get their trucks over the border.[51] 

    The Haaretz version (Gaza Myths and Facts: What American Jewish Leaders Won't Tell You
    Peter Beinart Jul 30, 2014 ) continues:

    What really doomed the greenhouse initiative, Wolfensohn argues, were Israeli restrictions on Gazan exports. “In early December [2005], he writes, “the much-awaited first harvest of quality cash crops—strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and flowers—began. These crops were intended for export via Israel for Europe. But their success relied upon the Karni crossing [between Gaza and Israel], which, beginning in mid-January 2006, was closed more than not. The Palestine Economic Development Corporation, which was managing the greenhouses taken over from the settlers, said that it was experiencing losses in excess of $120,000 per day…It was excruciating. This lost harvest was the most recognizable sign of Gaza’s declining fortunes and the biggest personal disappointment during my mandate.”
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