Sec. of State Blinken Sticks to Dismissing Pro-Hamas Progressive Democrats

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Posted: May 23, 2021 1:45 PM
Sec. of State Blinken Sticks to Dismissing Pro-Hamas Progressive Democrats

Source: State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

A large portion of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's Sunday interview on "This Week" was devoted to discussing the Israeli-Hamas conflict. This included bolstering President Joe Biden's role in a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as the administration and president himself have stuck to, as well as reiterating the administration's commitment to a two-state solution. Further, just as Biden did during a press conference on Friday, Sec. of State Blinken refused to condemn pro-Hamas positions from progressive Democrats. He didn't even acknowledge them.

Here's how that relevant exchange went between host George Stephanopoulos and Blinken:

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president reiterated strong support for Israel on Friday, but he's coming under increased pressure from progressives, Bernie Sanders has introduced a resolution of disapproval over a new arms sale to Israel. Others like Rashida Tlaib and AOC say the U.S. should not be rubberstamping arms sales to Israel when they use the weapons to abuse Palestinian rights. What's your response to that?

BLINKEN: Well, happily, George, one of the things I don't do in this job is I don't do politics. I focus on the policies. So I'll leave the politics to others. But here's what I can say. We got to the result thanks to President Biden's relentless focus on this quiet but I think effective diplomacy in getting to a cease-fire and stopping the violence in 11 days. If you go back and look at previous crises, they've lasted a lot longer. But, of course, every single day that these things go on, we see a tremendous loss in human life and in human suffering. And we're determined to get that -- to bring that to an end.

When it comes to arms sales, two things. First, the president has been equally clear we're committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself, especially when it comes to these indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians. Any country would respond to that, and we're committed to Israel's defense. At the same time, any arms sale is going to be done in full consultation with Congress, we're committed to that. And we want to make sure that that process works effectively.

It's unfortunate that Stephanopoulos did not push back harder, or, at the very least, further illustrate the pro-Hamas kind of rhetoric the congresswomen are espousing. Also, one can take issue with arm sales from a much more reasonable argument than what the squad members have to say.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) earlier on Sunday shared pro-Hamas talking points, as Spencer reported:

Joining CBS' Face the Nation Sunday morning, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) seemed to be reading from Hamas propaganda talking points while addressing the violence that's been carried out by terrorists against Israel amid his own opposition to U.S. support for Israel. 

"All that I think is that given the incredible suffering in Gaza where we have a poverty rate of 56%, 70% of the young people are unemployed, and after the Israeli attacks you have wastewater plants destroyed, clinics destroyed, hospitals destroyed, I think the United States has got to develop an even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have to be pro-Israel, but we have to be pro-Palestinian," Sanders said.

Stephanopoulos also did not mention a counter argument, that Sen. Ted Cruz is introducing a resolution in the Senate to approve arms sales to Israel.

If Blinken wants to take a cop out and argue that's not his role to respond to concerns about the likes of AOC and Rep. Tlaib, that's one thing. As the supposed leader of the Democratic Party, though, President Biden has no excuse to do anything other than call out members of his fellow Democrats in office.

As a reminder, here is what I reported Biden had to say when asked directly about a "shift" in his party towards Israel:

"What is your message to Democrats who want you to be more confrontational with Israel? And specifically to those that are saying that there should be an end to arm sales? I mean, do you recognize that there has been a shift, an evolution in your party, Mr. President, in the last 20 years on this issue?" [ABC's Mary Alice] Parks asked. 

The president very much gave a typical answer from a politician who wishes to deflect. 

"There is no shift in my commitment or commitment to the security of Israel, period. No shift, not at all," he began his answer, before calling for a two-state solution, as "where there is a shift in," which he emphasized is "the only answer." His answer closed with a claim that "my party still supports Israel. Let's get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace."