The lost crusade of Mr. Sanders

Commentary: The former U.S. presidential candidate has decided to embark on a doomed mission against the State of Israel

By Aviel Marciano and Ella Rosenberg

When the Medieval Europeans decided to launch multiple crusades and conquer Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslim rulers of the area, their attempts failed time after time. It was not the lack of military support, funds or planning, it was simply the lack of understanding of the Middle East as a whole. This situation has surpassed time and realm, and the same notion of sheer misunderstanding of a specific area can be found in the political sphere of our day and age.

There comes a time in every politician’s career that he makes an unprecedented political mistake that projects a light on his lack of understanding of specific matters. In certain instances, these occurrences are also in jura of current political affairs, that turn out not to the specific outcome that the politician has wished for, or claimed to have wished for.

It seems that Mr. Sanders has reached a point in his career in which he feels at ease playing a political Indiana Jones which begs the inescapable question of whether Mr. Sanders is really fighting for a lost crusade, or trying to make a spectacle of himself.

The recent proposed bill of Congressman Bernie Sanders has quite expectedly not been taken seriously, and has failed to raise many eyebrows in the Middle East, specifically in Israel, to Mr. Sanders’s dismay.

The bill, introduced to Congress, entails a specific decree that will ban the U.S. from selling arms to Israel within its latest weapons deal, targeted at 735 million USD.

This bold, yet uncalculated move, is backed by multiple senators from the Democratic Party, and is considered one of the most advanced legislative bills to ever be introduced either in the House or Senate.

Yet, this courageous legislative bill may be a lost crusade for Mr. Sanders. Like all crusades, which have mostly have been in vain and resulted in failure, the planning has lacked two main elements - understanding of the topographical field and lack of preparation when accessing unchartered waters.

Dealing with Middle East affairs has proved to be a difficult task to all past and current presidents of the U.S., and not because of their lack of experience. The focal point of the majority of their failure lies in the fact that all of the American presidents are, not surprisingly, American, while the area at stake is, also not surprisingly, Middle Eastern.

Be that as it may, the recent bill sets an immensely dangerous threshold for US-Israel foreign affairs - the issue of sanctions.

Mr. Sanders’s personal crusade puts the State of Israel under the recent proposed bill as a sanctioned country (under the U.S.'s sanction and FATCA regulations). Although many politicians during the history of this remarkable alliance have had a troublesome relationship with Israel, this is certainly a first.

Thus, what does the recent bill propose and entail? Apart from sanctions, it sets a new bar of adherence to military export compliance, at its highest level, which also impacts the banking sector in Israel and the U.S. This may lead to additional markets and economic unions (such as the EU) to consider acting in the same manner, which may lead Israel to military and banking isolation worldwide.

When transposing the bill, the bill will lead to a de-facto embargo on the State of Israel by the U.S., which in turn is most likely to lead to a spill-over effect (in its EU law meaning) to a banking embargo. Banking and financial embargoes tend to come second once a military export ban is transposed into national law.

The unlikeliness of the abovementioned bill receiving any support in the House is quite significant, as it will also most likely not receive any presidential support. As long as the banking and military payments route between Israel and the U.S. is maintained, both countries will continue to trade in harmony. This symbiosis will most likely not dissolve due to the current state of affairs in Israel and the PA, but Mr. Sanders’s personal and unjustified action could have led to a banking catastrophe in Israel, which would have directly impacted the U.S., as Israel receives part of its national aid directly from the Central Bank of the U.S. to the Central Bank of Israel.

This political attempt may be seen as a mere political move, but it proves that Mr. Sanders is completely ignorant of U.S. sanction policies, U.S. banking law, and its effect on the U.S. as one of the largest global markets.

Remarkably, this populist act will not only go down in history as a failed attempt, it will also be remembered as one of the low points of Mr. Sanders’s career, or the start of his Middle Eastern explorer phase.


Aviel Marciano is Strategic Advisor and Co-Founder at Armada. Ella Rosenberg is an EU Law Consultant and Co-Founder at Armada.

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