Democrats’ West Bank rhetoric rings hollow

Israel is no stranger to being singled out for criticism, having been condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Council more times than the rest of the world combined. Now, the drumbeat of opposition to the Jewish state’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank represents the latest chapter in this pattern of hypocrisy.

Democrats in both chambers of the U.S. Congress are coming out forcefully against annexation, not only criticizing the development but proposing concrete steps in the realm of funding.

Thirteen U.S. senators on July 2 filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit Israel from using U.S. security assistance for the purpose of unilaterally annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

In the House, 12 U.S. representatives signed a letter led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) which stated, “Should the Israeli government continue down this path, we will work to ensure nonrecognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way.” Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who signed the proposed Senate amendment, joined the House members’ letter.

Yet between the Senate and the House, these two-dozen lawmakers are silent when it comes to the occupation of proportionally massive swaths of territory in other countries. Where is the chorus against Russia’s occupation of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, comprising 20 percent of the territory of Georgia? And where is the condemnation of Armenia’s occupation of the same percentage of internationally recognized Azerbaijani territory, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region? (It is certainly no coincidence that earlier this year, the internationally unrecognized president of Nagorno-Karabakh congratulated the internationally unrecognized president-elect of Abkhazia.)

Nagorno-Karabakh map (credit: Achemish)

Ever since Russia supported the two self-proclaimed republics in Georgian territory in 2008, most of the international community has not recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been festering for longer, since those post-Soviet states’ war from 1988-1994.

Armenia’s decades-long occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh violates four U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as U.S. State Department policy which “does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent country” and “supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.” But while the Senate and House members threatened to condition U.S. security assistance on Israel’s annexation plan, 10 House Democrats last month testified in support of demining aid to Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is unsurprising that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first woman of Palestinian descent in Congress, was among those who signed Ocasio-Cortez’s letter opposing West Bank annexation. However, Tlaib was also part of the testimony for aid to Nagorno-Karabakh, marking the most recent indicator of her hypocritical stance on territorial conflicts. In Tlaib’s worldview, Israel is held accountable under international law, but Armenia is not.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, persistently speaks out against Israel’s presence in the West Bank yet supports the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) lobby’s agenda on Nagorno-Karabakh, which serves to perpetuate the occupation of that territory.

The double standard of Tlaib, Sanders, and their Democratic colleagues is perhaps most powerfully encapsulated by this: They routinely accuse Israel of undermining a two-state solution through its actions in the West Bank, but they either fail to condemn or proactively support the ANCA’s rejection of the Madrid Principles for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. (The Madrid Principles were produced by the OSCE Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by the U.S., Russia, and France.)

The hypocrisy even extends to historically strong supporters of Israel like Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who on the one hand is an architect of sanctions against Iran which intend to protect Israel, but on the other hand is a longtime vocal advocate of Armenian policy positions despite the deep alliance between Armenia and Iran.

As the West Bank annexation debate intensifies, Congressional Democrats’ rhetoric will continue to ring hollow until they apply the same standard to all territorial conflicts.

Jesse Bogner is an author and journalist. His memoir and social critique, The Egotist, has been translated into five languages. His work has been featured in The Daily Caller, MSN, and The Huffington Post.

Israel is no stranger to being singled out for criticism, having been condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Council more times than the rest of the world combined. Now, the drumbeat of opposition to the Jewish state’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank represents the latest chapter in this pattern of hypocrisy.

Democrats in both chambers of the U.S. Congress are coming out forcefully against annexation, not only criticizing the development but proposing concrete steps in the realm of funding.

Thirteen U.S. senators on July 2 filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit Israel from using U.S. security assistance for the purpose of unilaterally annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

In the House, 12 U.S. representatives signed a letter led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) which stated, “Should the Israeli government continue down this path, we will work to ensure nonrecognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way.” Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who signed the proposed Senate amendment, joined the House members’ letter.

Yet between the Senate and the House, these two-dozen lawmakers are silent when it comes to the occupation of proportionally massive swaths of territory in other countries. Where is the chorus against Russia’s occupation of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, comprising 20 percent of the territory of Georgia? And where is the condemnation of Armenia’s occupation of the same percentage of internationally recognized Azerbaijani territory, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region? (It is certainly no coincidence that earlier this year, the internationally unrecognized president of Nagorno-Karabakh congratulated the internationally unrecognized president-elect of Abkhazia.)

Nagorno-Karabakh map (credit: Achemish)

Ever since Russia supported the two self-proclaimed republics in Georgian territory in 2008, most of the international community has not recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been festering for longer, since those post-Soviet states’ war from 1988-1994.

Armenia’s decades-long occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh violates four U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as U.S. State Department policy which “does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent country” and “supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.” But while the Senate and House members threatened to condition U.S. security assistance on Israel’s annexation plan, 10 House Democrats last month testified in support of demining aid to Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is unsurprising that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first woman of Palestinian descent in Congress, was among those who signed Ocasio-Cortez’s letter opposing West Bank annexation. However, Tlaib was also part of the testimony for aid to Nagorno-Karabakh, marking the most recent indicator of her hypocritical stance on territorial conflicts. In Tlaib’s worldview, Israel is held accountable under international law, but Armenia is not.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, persistently speaks out against Israel’s presence in the West Bank yet supports the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) lobby’s agenda on Nagorno-Karabakh, which serves to perpetuate the occupation of that territory.

The double standard of Tlaib, Sanders, and their Democratic colleagues is perhaps most powerfully encapsulated by this: They routinely accuse Israel of undermining a two-state solution through its actions in the West Bank, but they either fail to condemn or proactively support the ANCA’s rejection of the Madrid Principles for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. (The Madrid Principles were produced by the OSCE Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by the U.S., Russia, and France.)

The hypocrisy even extends to historically strong supporters of Israel like Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who on the one hand is an architect of sanctions against Iran which intend to protect Israel, but on the other hand is a longtime vocal advocate of Armenian policy positions despite the deep alliance between Armenia and Iran.

As the West Bank annexation debate intensifies, Congressional Democrats’ rhetoric will continue to ring hollow until they apply the same standard to all territorial conflicts.

Jesse Bogner is an author and journalist. His memoir and social critique, The Egotist, has been translated into five languages. His work has been featured in The Daily Caller, MSN, and The Huffington Post.