Sanders slanders Rabin
Sanders slanders Rabin

The late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin made the riskiest territorial concessions in Israel’s history when he gave the Palestinian Authority control of the areas where 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside. But Bernie Sanders, the U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate, seems to believe that  never happened.

Writing in the magazine Jewish Currents this week, Sanders asserted that “the Palestinian people [are]  crushed underneath a military occupation now over a half-century old, creating a daily reality of pain, humiliation, and resentment.”  The time has come for  “ending that occupation,” Sanders declares.

To do that, however, we would need a time machine that would take us all back to the summer of 1995—which was the last time that the Palestinian Arabs lived under Israeli occupation.

In September 1995, as part of the Oslo agreements, Prime Minister Rabin agreed to withdraw Israel’s forces  from the cities in Judea-Samaria where nearly all the Palestinian Arabs reside. Later, Ariel Sharon withdrew from all of Gaza.

The only “occupation” of the Palestinian Arabs currently in force is the 24-year occupation by the Palestinian Authority. (And, now entering its 12th year, the occupation of Gaza by Hamas.)
As a result, the only “occupation” of the Palestinian Arabs currently in force is the 24-year occupation by the Palestinian Authority. (And, now entering its 12th year, the occupation of Gaza by Hamas.)

If Senator Sanders knows the truth and is deliberately falsifying the historical record, that would be terrible. If the problem is that his advisers are misleading him about the “occupation,” that would be almost as bad.

Either way, there’s an easy remedy. The senator should take a quick trip to the Middle East. He should visit the PA capital of Ramallah, or other PA-occupied cities, such as Bethlehem or Shechem (Nablus).

He would be in for quite a surprise. He would see streets policed by the Palestinian security forces. He wouldn’t see any Israeli troops or military administration. They left more than two decades ago.

The senator would discover that the Palestinian schools are run by Palestinian Arab principals and teachers. The courts have Palestinian Arab judges. On those rare occasions when the PA holds elections, the candidates and the voters are all Palestinians. Just about the only thing the Palestinian Authority cannot do is import tanks, planes, Iranian “volunteers,” or North Korean missiles.

The situation that currently prevails in the disputed territories of Judea-Samaria is not a perfect solution. But let’s face it: we live in an imperfect world.

Thanks to Yitzhak Rabin, today’s status quo ensures that Israel continues to have a Jewish majority, continues to have defensible borders, and continues to be able to guarantee all faiths free access to their religious sites.

At the same time, Rabin’s strategy allows nearly all the Palestinian Arabs to live under their own government. They live in an entity that is close to statehood in every respect except, of course, for those few aspects that would most endanger Israel’s existence.

Rather than criticize a fictional “occupation,” Bernie Sanders needs to acknowledge the risks Rabin took, and stop dishonoring Rabin’s memory by pretending that those concessions were never made.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of  “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism,” now available on Kindle.