Bernie Sanders gets ‘huge applause’ during debate for being only candidate to mention Palestinians

There’s been a lot of grim news coming out of Israel/Palestine in recent months, but this hasn’t prompted debate moderators to ask the Democratic candidates about the subject. Last night was no different, but the issue was raised by Bernie Sanders during the foreign policy section of the evening.

“It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel,” said the Vermont Senator “But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve. What is going on in Gaza right now, where youth unemployment is 60, 70 percent, is unsustainable.”

Sanders comments prompted applause from the audience and praise from many progressives on social media. “You hear that applause for Palestinian rights at the Democratic debate?,” tweeted Sanders Foreign Policy Advisor Matt Duss, “Yeah you do.”

Numerous polls suggest that support for Israel is weakening among Democratic voters. Among Democrats, sympathy for Israel is weaker than it was before Mr. Netanyahu took office in 2009. A Gallup poll from earlier this year asked voters whether they were inclined to support Israel or Palestine and found that just 43% of Democrats are partial to Israel. That’s the lowest number in 14 years. A recent Data for Progress poll found that 65% of Democratic voters support conditioning military aid to Israel in response to its human rights record. An October report from the centrist Center for American Progress ended up with an even higher number when they posed the question: 71% of Democratic voters support such a move.

“The audience cheered when Bernie Sanders spoke about Palestinian rights because ordinary Democrats believe in Palestinian rights,” tweeted The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart, “And because they know that, even in the Democratic Party, acknowledging Palestinian humanity requires political courage.”

During MSNBC’s post-debate coverage, filmmaker Michael Moore also praised Sanders for his statements. “Tonight he said something that I don’t think I’ve ever heard at a Democratic debate…he said that the Palestinians were human beings. He said that we cannot support Israel and be against the Palestinian people. We’re being hypocritical if we do that. We support Israel, but that means we have to support the Palestinians. That got a huge applause.”

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