Clinton, Want Berners on Board? Walk Back AIPAC and Never Again Say Kissinger

To trump Trump, Hillary Clinton will need Bernie supporters, the "Berners," to be motivated enough to come to the polls to vote for her on Election Day. Hardly a secret -- pollster Nate Silver says Trump has a 25% chance of beating Clinton. Watch MSNBC and you'll see the Democratic Party establishment falling all over themselves to say nice things about Bernie's movement (Let's hope it's not just Bernie's!) and Bernie himself -- great guy, full of integrity, blah, blah. All well and good, but if Clinton and the DNC really want to seal the deal, they'll need to do more than that when -- and after -- Bernie walks into the Democratic Party convention with 1900 delegates who don't want him to drop out -- ever, even if it means running on a third party ticket.

First of all, Clinton needs to walk back AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and by that I mean lose the language about standing firm to stamp out what is now a wildly popular global campaign for equal rights for Palestinians: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Ever since Palestinian Civil Society issued the call in 2005, trade unions, churches, and university campuses have been voting to divest their stock portfolios of companies -- Caterpillar, Motorola -- that profit off of the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And it's not just them, either. Rocker Roger Waters will not play Tel Aviv, nor will Jello Biafra. You won't hear Alice Walker reading her books there, either.

For Berners like me, those who applaud Bernie's tame, yet brave call for a more balanced I/P approach, Clinton's I'm-down-with-you AIPAC speech left us wondering, "What will she say when Israel asks for back up to wage war on Iran?" Even George Bush, the jerk who got us into the Iraq bloodbath, reportedly refused Israel's Please-Bomb-Iran request, so one would hope a Democratic Party President would say get lost, as well.

While Clinton's AIPAC speech undoubtedly appealed to her big dollar donors and Jews fearful of a Palestinian state or a bi-national state -- or of not realizing the Greater Israel -- annexing Palestinian land from the Nile to the Euphrates -- the content and timing of Clinton's speech -- made during a Primary when running against a Democratic Socialist -- confounded those of us who might normally think of Hillary as a smart savvy politician with her finger in the air. How was this speech supposed to mobilize the Party's base? Quite the opposite. It was like a punch to the stomach. It hurt.

To make matters worse, now that Clinton is the all-but confirmed nominee, the pandering Governor of New York -- Andrew Cuomo-- feels free to issue an Executive Order "If you boycott Israel, Israel will boycott you" because "legislation is a tedious affair." Take a look at his tweet.


In California, where I live, my own assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) -- using Clinton as cover -- is pushing legislation, similar to bills passed in several other states, to mandate our Attorney General research and publish -- to the tune of 1.2 million dollars -- an Israel enemies list for the purpose of denying state and city contracts to businesses -- large or small -- "that are engaging in discriminatory business practices in furtherance of a boycott of any sovereign nation or peoples recognized by the government of the United States." Take a look at Bloom's Facebook post:


Now check out the push-back in the comments section:


This bill -- AB2844: Public Contracts: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS -- Get it? It's all about Israel) of Recognized Sovereign Nations or Peoples -- 2016 "-- is turning our legislative committee members into pretzels, bending over backwards to amend an unconstitutional bill -- one that denies a public benefit because of the exercise of First Amendment rights -- in order to make the bill constitutional.

Good luck with that.

The bill, heavily amended but still opposed by Jewish Voice for Peace, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Lawyers Guild, now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by another AB2844 co-author Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), a lawmaker known in left circles as a PEP: Progressive Except for Palestine.

So the spotlight is on Jackson to either make the bill tougher -- order our Attorney General to execute the blacklist -- or make the bill disappear like Houdini.

And just in case AB2844 flies toward CA Governor Jerry Brown's desk, here's an image to tweet to Jerry and the progressive CA Senate President Kevin de Leon.


During an election year, when Democrats will have to unite to beat Trump, Bloom's bill threatens the unity of the California Democratic Party, much as Cuomo's Executive Order undermines a Clinton Presidency by alienating independents and the Party's progressive base: the Berners. Bills like AB2844 are bad news whenever they are introduced but when bandied about during a Trump/Clinton showdown, they are lethal to Clinton's efforts to recruit the Berners.

Don't believe me? Take another look at Assemblyman Bloom's Facebook page and tell me it wouldn't send Berners running to the Green Party's Jill Stein.

Of course what I'm saying isn't headlines-breaking material, for we see the DNC giving Bernie 5 platform choices, among them Israel critics professor Cornell West and Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby, and we hear the Clinton camp is now afraid to wave the figurative AIPAC flag, for fear the Berners will all bust, but Hillary needs to put out the word: Kill the bills; Rescind Executive Orders. In other words, make it clear federal and state-by-state efforts to chill speech on Israel Palestine and vilify supporters of equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians will not help her win the White House.

It's true, too, because a PEW Research poll (2016) shows millennials moving toward Bernie and his I/P views, not in the other direction toward settlement expansion and institutionalized segregation. According to PEW, fewer than half of millennials sympathize with Israel.

Next. Henry Kissinger. Thank you, Bernie, for telling it like it is -- for saying during a debate that he, unlike Clinton, would never think of parading a Primary endorsement from the man who engineered the escalation of the Vietnam War, which soon became the invasion and carpet bombing of Cambodia, followed by the secret war on Laos, all detailed in the Pentagon Papers, thanks to the courageous work of former CIA analyst Daniel Ellsberg and his Rand associate Tony Russo, along with photographers like AP's Nick Ut who captured nine-year-old Kim Phu severally burned from a 1972 napalm attack.

Was Clinton tone-deaf, living on another planet when she proudly stated Kissinger, often termed a war criminal, had endorsed her? Did she not understand she was running against a declared Socialist who filed for conscientious objector status to avoid complicity in the annihilation of millions of Vietnamese people? In trotting out Kissinger, Clinton showed she was either clueless or dismissive -- or maybe both.

So what should she do now as a good-will gesture to the American left, those of us who opposed Vietnam -- and after that, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the drones over the middle east? This is a tough question because it begs a challenge to Clinton's core beliefs in imperialist ventures, in regime change, in American exceptionalism that will breed more war. While it's Pollyannish to think any Presidential candidate -- let alone a woman who must prove she's "muscular" (Don't you hate that warmongering term?!) -- can denounce the primacy of the US or its militaristic foreign policy, it's not delusional to expect her to both speak and demonstrate a commitment to world peace. Speaking is easy -- giving lip service to the importance of global cooperation, not competition, and to the humanity that unites Muslims and Jews and Christians, etc., a meme already threaded into Clinton's speeches, yes, but the other part of this challenge is more rigorous. It requires her to NEVER AGAIN utter the words "I am endorsed by Henry Kissinger" -- to close the White House door and not allow him in to engineer another bloodbath -- to look to others -- Senators Murphy (D-Conneticut), Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Heinrich (D-NM) for guidance, as these are the leaders who talk about war as a last resort in their "Principles for a Progressive Foreign Policy."

These three senators also talk about curbing the power of the surveillance state, which brings me to another man, whistleblower and now-Russia resident Edward Snowden, living in exile, afraid to return home to face prison for exposing our government's massive illegal wiretapping program. Isn't it time for a little leniency here? Saying nice clemency things about Snowden might win Clinton a few Brownie points -- particularly with the millennials who like the young whistle-blower.

To those of you who say Berners will have to vote for Hillary because they'll have nowhere else to go, I say you're wrong -- those Berners could go to a third party or the living room couch, to sit out the Presidential election.

Walk it back from AIPAC, Hillary, and never again say Kissinger.