FRANCONIA, New Hampshire — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told a town hall in Berlin, New Hampshire Tuesday morning that as president, he would use U.S. aid to Israel as “leverage” against “racism” there.
Sanders was asked by a young Jewish left-wing activist from Vermont — who described ending Israel’s “occupation” as a “moral imperative” from a religious perspective — why it mattered to him to “fight to end the occupation.”
The question won loud applause from the audience, which packed the White Mountain Chalet Caterers for breakfast with the candidate, who is surging in the polls in New Hampshire, overtaking former vice president Joe Biden in some surveys.
After commenting on the need for young people to turn out to vote, Sanders addressed her question:
Look, I was — you know, it’s a funny thing. All that I have ever said on this issue is that U.S. foreign policy should be even-handed. That’s all. Even-handed. And that you have to — we respect Israel, Israel has ever right in the world to live in peace and security, but so do the Palestinian people! (Applause) And as somebody who is proudly Jewish, to be critical of a right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel is not to be antisemitic. (Applause) So what you have, is a situation — and by the way, the fault is not all with Israel, you’ve got very poor and corrupt Palestinian leadership — but what the goal of the United States has got to be, is to bring people in the region together, the Palestinians and the Israelis, to create a kind of workable peace that works for both parties, not just one. And your point is well-taken. The United States government gives a whole lot of money to Israel. And I think we can leverage that money to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel.
Sanders did not elaborate on what he meant by “racism.” To many anti-Israel activists and Arab states, the very existence of Israel, and the Zionist ideology of Jewish national self-determination, is by definition racist.
Previously, Sanders has referred to the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “racist.” Sanders has also suggested that he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.