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NY Times surveys 21 Democratic presidential candidates on Israel’s human rights record

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA) – The New York Times surveyed almost all of the Democratic presidential candidates on a range of issues between March and June, and released the results on Wednesday, June 19. One of the questions: “Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?”

Some candidates directly answered the question, but most used it as an opportunity to affirm their support of a two-state solution. There were a couple of notable exceptions.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, called Israel’s human rights record “problematic and moving in the wrong direction under the current right-wing government.” Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said that Israel “attempts” to uphold human rights standards but could do a “better job.”

“That’s not just my opinion, that’s from listening to people in Israel say that about their own country,” O’Rourke said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has made similar statements recently about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But he spoke more generally when posed the question by The Times, saying that he has “great concerns about Netanyahu.”

Seth Moulton, a member of the House from Massachusetts, said that Israel needs to be held more accountable to human rights standards. Michael Bennet, a senator from Colorado, called Israel the “one essential country on the planet.” His mother is a Holocaust survivor.

Former vice president Joe Biden, the current frontrunner in the field according to recent polls, declined to participate in the project.

Here is look at the full results.

Kamala Harris, senator from California:
“Overall, yes.”

John Delaney, former Maryland congressman:
“I think Israel’s in a very difficult situation.”

Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota:
“When Israel does things that I think are against public policy and international policy, I will call them out on it.”

Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey:
“We have a problem right now in America with the way we are debating issues surrounding Israel.”

Beto O’Rourke, former Texas congressman:
“I know that Israel attempts to meet international standards of human rights. I know that they could do a better job.”

Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts:
“The current situation is not tenable.”

Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont:
“The role of the United States is to work with all of the entities in the region, including the Palestinians.”

Julian Castro, former Housing secretary:
“I believe that Israel, like a lot of countries, wants to do the right thing.”

Bill De Blasio, mayor of New York City:
“The current Israeli government has made a lot of mistakes that have hindered the peace process.”

Tulsi Gabbard, senator from Hawaii:
“I think that there are some challenges with Israel that need to be addressed.”

John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado:
“They are at a point now where they are at a crossroads.”

Seth Moulton, congressman from Massachusetts:
“I think Israel often does, but not always. And it’s incumbent on us as an ally to hold them accountable.”

Kirsten Gillibrand, senator from New York:
“I do, and I believe that Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East.”

Andrew Yang, former tech executive:
“Certainly, some of the actions that are being taken there are deeply problematic.”

Steve Bullock, governor of Montana:
“I think that Israel’s a trusted partner, a trusted friend to our country.”

Marianne Williamson, self-help author:
“As President of the United States, I would have an equally robust commitment to both the legitimate security concerns of Israel, and the human rights of the Palestinians.”

Michael Bennet, senator from Colorado:
“Israel is the one essential country on the planet.”

Jay Inslee, governor of Washington Sstate:
“I do not believe the present government of Israel has followed policies.”

Tim Ryan, congressman from Ohio:
“I think they could do a better job.”

Eric Swalwell, congressman from California:
“I’m going to fire Jared Kushner on Day 1, because he has no business being on the job of seeking a two-state solution.”

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend:
“Israel’s human rights record is problematic and moving in the wrong direction.”

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