Clown Award: Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders
The Outrage of the Week slides smoothly over into our other regular weekly feature, the Clown Award, given as always for meritorious stupidity.
This week we have a double winner, a shared award. This week the Big Red Nose goes to Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for defending the right of Israel to bomb hospitals and schools.
At a recent local town hall meeting in Barnstable, Warren was criticized for her vote in favor of sending $225 million in military aid to Israel.
Warren defended herself by saying, this is a quote, "America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren't many liberal democracies." She also said Hamas attacks "indiscriminately" and referred to them as "terrorists" but that civilian casualties are "the last thing Israel wants" and when pressed about that, she said that Hamas used civilians as human shields and "Israel has a right to defend itself."
Okay, you tell me: Is there a single original thought in there? Is there a single line not lifted from an Israeli government press release?
During the most recent war, Israel shelled schools and hospitals on the grounds that rockets and militants had been located nearby. Not in the schools and hospitals - although there were two cases where Hamas stored rockets in a school - but not in the schools and hospitals, not on the schools and hospitals, but near the schools and hospitals. Which means, first, so much for the "precision attacks" Israel is always claiming to make. And as I've mentioned before, the Gaza Strip has about the same population density as the city of Boston. Just how far away from a civilian target could some crew with a rocket launcher get?
Even more to the point, the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War prohibits attacks on hospitals, "unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy." Even under those circumstances, civilian hospitals can only be attacked "after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded."
But for Warren, simply having a military asset somewhere close to a hospital makes shelling that hospital legitimate self-defense. Providing, that is, the shelling is done by Israel.
And when asked about the idea of conditioning future US aid on a halt to more settlements in the West bank, settlements which are, again, clearly illegal under international law and recognized as such for years by US policy, Warren said "I think there's a question of whether we should go that far" - while making no suggestion of, in that case, how far we should go.
For his part, Bernie Sanders got into a testy, even heated, exchange with constituents at a recent town meeting over his defense of Israel. Sanders supposedly ended on a note of what was called resignation. "This is a very depressing and difficult issue. This has gone on for 60 bloody years," he said. "If you're asking me, do I have a magical solution? I don't. And you know what, I doubt very much that you do."
True, I don't have a magical solution. But a good start would be for people to stop saying that "It must be okay because Israel did it." In other words, stop being clowns.
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