Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate to show sympathy for Palestinians

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Israel and Palestine. This is perhaps one of the most contentious issues, globally — so much so that no presidential candidate for the United States has ever declared their support for the Palestinians. Until now.

Bernie Sanders sparred with Hillary Clinton in Thursday night's Democratic primary debate on the subject of Israel and Palestine. Couching his message in his "100%" support for Israel, Sanders said the Palestinians needed to be treated with compassion and "dignity" for any progress to be made — and that America plays a big role in that. Clinton did not appear to agree.

See photos from the contentious debate:

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) debate during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on April 14, 2016 in New York City. The candidates are debating ahead of the New York primary to be held April 19. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Senator Bernie Sanders speak simultaneously during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) gestures towards rival candidate Senator Bernie Sanders as she speaks during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Bernie Sanders both gesture during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Members of the audience watch as Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Senator Bernie Sanders discuss issues during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) looks on as rival candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton demonstrate before a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders demonstrate before a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Supporters of US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders shout slogans outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard ahead of the CNN Democratic Debate on April 14, 2016, in New York. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take their increasingly acrimonious battle for the Democratic White House nomination to a debate stage in Brooklyn on April 14th ahead of the key New York primary. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders demonstrate before a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The Williamsburg Bridge stands past the media row before the start of the Democratic presidential candidate debate in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2016. While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have tussled over energy policy, immigration, and gun control, it's the back-and-forth over Wall Street that has been most persistent through weeks of campaigning in the state. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A member of the media takes a photograph with a mobile device before the start of the Democratic presidential candidate debate in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2016. While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have tussled over energy policy, immigration, and gun control, it's the back-and-forth over Wall Street that has been most persistent through weeks of campaigning in the state. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees hold signs in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, before the start of the Democratic presidential candidate debate in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2016. While Sanders and Hillary Clinton have tussled over energy policy, immigration, and gun control, it's the back-and-forth over Wall Street that has been most persistent through weeks of campaigning in the state. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's supporters shout slogans outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard ahead of the CNN Democratic Debate on April 14, 2016, in New York. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take their increasingly acrimonious battle for the Democratic White House nomination to a debate stage in Brooklyn on April 14th ahead of the key New York primary. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shout slogans outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard ahead of the CNN Democratic Debate on April 14, 2016, in New York. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take their increasingly acrimonious battle for the Democratic White House nomination to a debate stage in Brooklyn April 14th ahead of the key New York primary. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gather outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard before Clinton faces Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, in the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate there on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The stage stands before the start of the Democratic presidential candidate debate in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2016. While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have tussled over energy policy, immigration, and gun control, it's the back-and-forth over Wall Street that has been most persistent through weeks of campaigning in the state. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run, and this is not going be easy ... if we are ever going to bring peace to that region — which has seen so much hatred and so much war — we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity," Sanders, who is himself Jewish and has spent prolonged periods of time in Israel, told the audience.

Bernie Sanders Is the First Presidential Candidate to Show Sympathy for Palestinians
Source: Mic

He was responding to moderator Wolf Blitzer's question of whether or not Israel's 2014 Gaza offensive was disproportionate in its retaliation. Sanders replied in the affirmative, a position he's made known in the past.

"Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks [and] has every right in the world to destroy terrorism," the Vermont senator said. "But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed. Now if you're asking me ... 'Was that a disproportionate attack?' The answer is I believe it was."

MORE: Who won the Democratic debate

Just hours before these remarks, Sanders suspended Simone Zimmerman, in charge of his campaign's national Jewish outreach, for making distasteful remarks about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Facebook — Zimmerman also aspersed Clinton in her posts.

Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail:

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Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail
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Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate to show sympathy for Palestinians
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks to a crowd gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center during a campaign rally on March 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary elections in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, while Missouri and Illinois remain tight races. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, pumps his fist as he arrives for at a rally at the Macomb Community College, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Warren, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, speaks at the FOX News town hall at the Gem Theatre, Monday, March 7, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves as he leaves a news conference after voting in the Vermont primary at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington, Vermont, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)???
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, and his wife, Jane arrive for a rally in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. smiles while speaking at the Kansas City Convention Center during a campaign event in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, meets 3-month-old Oliver Lomas, of Venice, Calif., who was dressed as Sanders during a rally at Bonanza High School, on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks during a canvass kick-off event at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to a crowd outside of a rally at Bonanza High School, on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., boards his plane for a campaign rally in Las Vegas, on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The Rev. Al Sharpton talks with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. as they sit down for a breakfast meeting at Sylvia's Restaurant, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. Sanders defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., reacts to the cheering crowd at his primary night rally Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a selfie during a campaign rally on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Waterloo, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to the media after holding a campaign event with United Steelworkers Local 310L, on January 26, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders continues his quest to become the Democratic presidential nominee.. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 24, 2016, ahead of the Iowa Caucus. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a CNN town hall at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. jokes with members of the media and pretends to slip as he steps off his bus before speaking at a town hall, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at Santa Maria Winery in Carroll, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., leaves after speaking to a crowded room during a campaign stop Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, is joined by his wife Jane, right, and grandchildren, Dylan, 4, and Ella, 7, on stage after speaking at a town hall at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, participates in the Democratic presidential candidate debate in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Hours before Sunday's Democratic debate, the two top Democratic contenders held a warm-up bout of sorts in multiple separate appearances on political talk shows, at a time when the polling gap between the pair has narrowed in early-voting states. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shakes hands with supporters after outlining his plan to reform the U.S. financial sector on January 5, 2016 in New York City. Sanders is demanding greater financial oversight and greater government action for banks and individuals that break financial laws. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, to discuss gun control and related amendments to the reconciliation bill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders at the NHDP annual Jefferson Jackson dinner in Manchester, N.H., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., steps onstage to speak at a campaign event at the Fox Theatre, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. left, sits with rapper Killer Mike at The Busy Bee Cafe Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Atlanta. Killer Mike is scheduled to introduce Sanders at a campaign event at the Fox Theatre later in the evening. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign event at the Fox Theatre Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The crowd cheers as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign event at the Fox Theatre Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign event at the Fox Theatre Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Supporters for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., cheer at the Jenkins Orphanage in North Charleston, S.C., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, during the Blue Jamboree event. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, about the meaning of "democratic socialism" and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pauses to wipe his brow as he speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, about the meaning of "democratic socialism" and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
LEBANON, NH - NOVEMBER 11: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) marches in the Veterans Day Parade November 11, 2015 in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Sanders goes into the Democrats second debate this weekend still running strong in the polls.(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. While next Tuesday's first Democratic presidential debate will probably lack the name-calling and sharp jabs of the Republican face-offs, there's still potential for strong disagreements between the party's leading contenders. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks about the Workplace Democracy Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 6, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, speaks during a campaign rally in Springfield, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2105. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Des Moines Youth Summit, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at Creative Visions in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Senator Bernie Sanders at Late Show with Stephen Colbert at the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City on September 18, 2015. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
US Senator from Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses striking low-wage contract workers from the US Capitol and religious leaders at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC, on September 22, 2015 for an interfaith service ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis for a six-day visit to the US. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talks on stage during the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Five Democratic presidential candidates are all expected to address the crowd inside the Verizon Wireless Arena. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves as he marches with supporters in the Labor Day parade Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Milford, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a television interview before a town hall meeting, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Grinnell, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I -Vt., reacts during a fundraiser reception Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Christian K. Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets supporters during the opening of his Cedar Rapids field headquarters, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, in Marion, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Iowa at the Iowa State Fair Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., lifts his arms in celebration as he speaks at a rally, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Troy Wayrynen)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a visit to the National Nurses United office Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A supporter takes a photo with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at a rally, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Troy Wayrynen)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles before a rally Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, in downtown Seattle. The afternoon rally was the first of several weekend appearances by Sanders in Seattle and Portland. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nurses take "selfies" with Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after her spoke at a rally with registered nurses and other community leaders on the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, Thursday, July 30, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the 2015 International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART) Conference, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joined by federal contract workers, speaks during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, to push for a raise to the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gives an opening statement at a Netroots Nation town hall meeting, Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waits to speak at the Alliance for Retired Americans 2015 National Legislative Conference in Washington, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to the media about his agenda in running for president, Thursday, April 30, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview, Wednesday May 20, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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The Zionist or Israel lobby in the upper echelons of American power has silenced many on the issue of Israel and Palestine. It is "one of the most potent advocacy groups in Washington, D.C.," the Independent explained in 2013, after Chuck Hagel, during his Secretary of Defense confirmation hearing, reneged on his comments that Congress was intimidated by the lsrael lobby.

And the influence extends beyond Capitol Hill. Actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem were threatened to be blacklisted by many Hollywood studio executives after they co-signed an open letter comparing Israel's attacks on Gaza to genocide. Much like Hagel, Cruz had to backtrack and subsequently released a statement saying she only meant to promote peace and that she was "not an expert" on the "complex" issue.

The couple were accused of being anti-Semitic as their critics conflated Zionism with Judaism — a comparison Sanders has overtly rejected. Numerous politically active organizations, such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians, are evidence that being Jewish is not synonymous with being pro-Israel.

Clinton, by comparison to Sanders, was staunchly supportive and defensive of Israel in the debate.

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail:

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Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign
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Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate to show sympathy for Palestinians
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 10: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a campaign rally at City Garage April 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. Voters will head to polling places for Maryland's presidential primary April 26. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laughs as she listens to Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) speak on a gun control panel in Port Washington, New York April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a Latino organizing event on April 9, 2016 while campaigning in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. The New York Democratic primary is scheduled for April 19th. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
SPRINGFIELD, MA - FEBRUARY 29: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a 'Get Out The Vote' rally at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History on February 29, 2016 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Massachusetts and Virginia ahead of Super Tuesday. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at the Old South Meeting Hall during a rally in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday February 29, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 01: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets patrons at Mapps Coffee on March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Minnesota as Super Tuesday voting takes place in 12 states. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters as she arrives at a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her daughter Chelsea Clinton, reacts to applause as she arrives for a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, hugs Annette Bebout, 73, of Newton, during a campaign event at Berg Middle School, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 in Newton, Iowa. Bebout told her story of how she lost her home to the audience. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by former President Bill Clinton, right, and their daughter Chelsea Clinton, left, arrives to speak at a rally at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at BR Miller Middle School in Marshalltown, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton makes a point during the Brown & Black Forum, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, and high school teacher David Swaney laugh about their colorful outfits before Swaney asks Clinton a question during a town hall at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts to applause from the audience while standing with Brenda Bouchard, an Alzheimer's research advocate, during a town hall style campaign event, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at South Church in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about her counterterrorism strategy during a speech at the University of Minnesota Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets local residents at Apple Orchard Cafe Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts as she talks to supporters after a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters before speaking at a campaign rally in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles as she arrives to speak at a town hall meeting Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Clinton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks from a gymnasium side porch to people who weren't able to fit in to hear her speech at Fisk University Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes hand with a supporter during a town hall meeting Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Coralville, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to customers at the White Mountain Cafe & Bookstore, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Gorham, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a meeting of the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Clinton tells black Alabama Democrats that she'd champion voting rights in the White House. She says Republicans are dismantling the progress of the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/Mark Almond)
MOUNT VERNON, IOWA - OCTOBER 7: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to voters during an outdoor town hall meeting at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa on Wednesday October 7, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts to a supporter before speaking at a community forum, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
MUSCATINE, IOWA - OCTOBER 6: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a voter before leaving a farm in Muscatine, Iowa on Tuesday October 6, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 05: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a town hall meeting at the Manchester Community College on October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton spoke about the need for gun control on the wake of a mass shooting at another community college in Oregon. (Photo by Alfredo Sosa/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures as she speaks at Human Rights Campaign gathering in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
DAVIE, FL - OCTOBER 02: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about gun control during her campaign stop at the Broward College à Hugh Adams Central Campus on October 2, 2015 in Davie, Florida. Hillary Clinton continues to campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party as their presidential candidate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a grassroots organizing meeting at Philander Smith College Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: Hillary Clinton attends the Phoenix Awards Dinner at the 45th Annual Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Conference at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on September 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claps on stage during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the Verizon Wireless Center on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Challenger for the democratic vote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been gaining ground on Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 18: Hillary Clinton brings her Democratic presidential campaign to Maine for the first time, speaking at King Middle School. Clinton is welcomed as she is introduced at the event. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - SEPTEMBER 7: Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton takes time to meet supporters and take photos at the Annual Hawkeye Labor Council AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic on September 7, 2015 at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Clinton spent a busy Labor Day weekend in Iowa, meeting supporters throughout the state while trying to maintain a lead over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes part in a discussion after speaking about the Iran nuclear deal at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2015. Clinton expressed firm support for the nuclear accord with Iran, calling it flawed but still strong. Clinton added that the agreement must be strictly enforced and said that if elected president next year, she would not hesitate to use military force if Iran fails to live up to its word and tries to develop a bomb. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - SEPTEMBER 5: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen take an off the schedule stop in the River Run Bookstore before shaking hands with onlookers on September 5, 2015 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - SEPTEMBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton receives an endorsement from U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) September 5, 2015 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Clinton attended a Women for Hillary event at Portsmouth High School. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - SEPTEMBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walks downtown Portsmouth and takes pictures with people September 5, 2015 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Clinton attended a Women for Hillary event at Portsmouth High School earlier in the day and received an endorsement from U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 18: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions from journalists after speaking to north Las Vegas voters at a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. The former Secretary was answering questions about emails sent and received a private server system, now in question, while she was the Secretary of State. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - August 15: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets fairgoers as she tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 15, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton tours the Des Moines Area Rapid Transit Central Station with general manager Elizabeth Presutti, left, and building superintendent Keith Welch, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
CARROLL, IA - JULY 26: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a house party on July 26, 2015 in Carroll, Iowa. Although Clinton leads all other Democratic contenders, a recent poll had her trailing several of the Republican candidates in Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters after a campaign event, Thursday, July 23, 2015 in Columbia, S.C. Clinton talked about what she said was a lack of educational and economic opportunities, and a criminal justice system that treats blacks more harshly than whites. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Chelsea Galinos, 21, left, who painted a picture of the democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, greets Clinton after a campaign event in New York, Monday, July 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Iowa City Public Library, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this June 20, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 83rd Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Clinton’s presidential campaign jumped on the Supreme Court decision, changing its red campaign logo to a rainbow colored H, releasing a gauzy video of gay wedding ceremonies, and blasting out supportive tweets aimed at building its campaign list. But like President Barack Obama, such expressions of support mark a remarkable shift for Clinton, who opposed gay marriage for more than two decades as a first lady, a U.S. senator and a presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner, File)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters during a rally, Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Seeking an army of volunteers, Clinton is trying to build an organizational edge in Iowa as some of her lesser-known Democratic rivals clamor for attention in the state that tripped up her first presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters during a rally, Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton's campaign has signaled Iowa will be the centerpiece of its ground game. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves to supporters as her husband former President Bill Clinton, second from right, Chelsea Clinton, second from left, and her husband Marc Mezvinsky, join on stage Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the "Hillary For America" official campaign launch event at Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island on Saturday, June 13, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Supporters watch as democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a speech at Texas Southern University in Houston, Thursday, June 4, 2015. Clinton is calling for an expansion of early voting and pushing back against Republican-led efforts to restrict voting access, laying down a marker on voting rights at the start of her presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 20: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a meeting with parents and child care workers at the Center for New Horizons on May 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Clinton arrived in Chicago after campaigning Monday and Tuesday in Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets a local resident while visiting local shops on main street in Independence, Iowa, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) poses with students and faculty after speaking at Rancho High School on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton said that any immigration reform would need to include a path to 'full and equal citizenship.' (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, steps to the podium to speak at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal attend the 2015 DVF Awards at United Nations on April 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University April 29, 2015 in New York City. Clinton addressed the unrest in Baltimore, called for police body cameras and a reform to sentencing. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with employees at Whitney Brothers during a campaign stop, Monday, April 20, 2015, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Hillary Clinton announced her campaign for president on Sunday April, 12, 2015 with a video on YouTube. 

(Screenshot from YouTube)

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"I don't know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist attacks, rockets coming at you," Clinton said in response to the very same question regarding disproportionate response. "You have a right to defend yourself."

Sanders was forceful about his position and pushed back in an attempt to pin Clinton down on the issue.

"I don't think anybody would suggest Israel invites or welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue," he said. "And you evaded ... the question. The question is not, 'Does Israel have a right to respond?' Not 'Does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism?' That's not the debate. 'Was their response disproportionate?' I believe that it was. You have not answered that."

MORE: Debate highlights big irony

"I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken," Clinton replied. She proceeded to blame Palestine for regional political failings and argued they it would never have found itself in this position if then-leader Yasser Arafat had agreed to husband Bill Clinton's peace deal.

"Israel left Gaza ... They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people," she added. "And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So, instead of having a thriving economy, with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven."

Clinton's accusation of Palestinians depriving themselves of a thriving economy overlooks Israeli policy that inhibits economic development in the West Bank and Gaza. For example, it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to access land for commercial or agricultural development.

Bernie Sanders Is the First Presidential Candidate to Show Sympathy for Palestinians
A young girl stands in an apartment building damaged by the Israeli military offensive in 2014.
Source: Hatem Moussa/AP

"I read Secretary Clinton's statement, speech before [American Israel Public Affairs Committee]. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people," Sanders said.

MORE: Sanders gets raucous response from activists

"Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term, there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays ... an evenhanded role, trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people," he concluded. "That is, I believe, what the world wants us to do and that's the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise."

Source: YouTube
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