Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday pledged to make every effort to pursue peace between Israel and the Palestinians, although he seemed to imply that the existence of Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians may be the cause of “hatred and warfare” in the Middle East.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Dearborn, Michigan, on Monday, Sanders said the U.S. must take an evenhanded approach to broker a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians because “we cannot continue to have for another sixty years the kind of hatred and conflict that exists in the Middle East.”
“I wish I could come before you and tell you that I have a magical solution. I don’t,” Sanders said. “We’ve had some presidents, Carter, Clinton and others, who have tried to do their best to resolve it. All I can tell you is I will make every single effort to bring rational people on both sides [of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict] together, so that hopefully we can have through a level playing field – the United States treating everybody in that region equally – hopefully, and I know that there are people of goodwill in Israel and the Arab communities.”
“This is not an easy task, but it is a task that we must pursue,” he added.
Dearborn has a large Arab-American population. Sanders was introduced by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the House of Representatives.
Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant, called Sanders’ stance a recipe for disaster. “Treat your allies and your enemies equally is the Sanders doctrine? Should be a good recipe for foreign policy disaster,” Sheinkopf told Jewish Insider.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ann Lewis, who served as White House Communications Director in the Bill Clinton administration and in senior roles under Hillary, told Jewish Insider, “Every time I hear any of the other candidates speak about foreign policy, I am reminded how important it is that we elect Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States.”
The Democratic presidential hopeful’s neutral approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is similar to Donald Trump’s stance. On Sunday, Trump released a video, in which he defended his recent comments on Israel. “I love Israel and am very pro-Israel,” Trump says looking directly into the camera. “I would love to see a deal made between Israel and the Palestinians. It is probably the hardest negotiation there is. Great negotiators have tried and they failed. I’m going to give it an awfully good shot. I want to remain as neutral as possible because if you’re not somewhat neutral the other side is never going to do it. But just remember Israel, I love you.”