Sanders Draws Fire in Israel

PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is fueling anti-Israel bias to those seeking to delegitimize Israel by inflating the overall death toll of Palestinian civilians and combatants during the 2014 war in Gaza, Knesset Member Michael Oren said on Thursday.

“First of all, he should get his facts right. Secondly, he owes Israel an apology,” the freshman lawmaker (Kulanu) told Times of Israel. “He accused us of a blood libel. He accused us of bombing hospitals. He accused us of killing 10,000 Palestinian civilians. Don’t you think that merits an apology?”

In an interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News last week, Sanders suggested Israel killed “over 10,000″ Palestinian civilians in Gaza. “Anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?” he said.

Sanders also called Israel’s military actions “disproportionate” and “indiscriminate.”

”I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed,” he asserted. “My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.”

According to Oren, Sanders is giving service to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. “Not only did he multiply by five the amount of casualties [in the 2014 Gaza war] and failed to distinguish between the Hamas fighters we eliminated and the civilians we inadvertently and regrettably killed. He said we bombed hospitals. Hamas is hiding beneath the hospital; we didn’t bomb it,” the former Israeli Ambassador told the Israeli publication.

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League called on Sanders to correct his misstatements.

Professor Alan Abbey, director of internet and media at Shalom Hartman Institute, who covered Sanders in the 1980’s at the for the Burlington Free Press, expressed deep disappointment that the Vermont Senator targeted Israel in such a manner.

“As someone who has written about Bernie Sanders’ Jewishness in a way that I believe reflected a nuanced understanding of the interplay of forces that have shaped him, I am extremely disappointed in his indiscriminate rhetoric and scattershot misinformation regarding Israel’s actions in the 2014 Gaza War,” Abbey told Jewish Insider. “By repeating twice the wildly inaccurate claim that ‘over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza,’ Bernie poured gasoline on the ashes of the delegitimized claims made by Israel-haters for the last two years. Bernie’s unselective targeting of Israel is as imprecise as he claimed Israel was in 2014.

“Bernie Sanders must walk back his erroneous accusations and promise to learn more about the situation and its complexities before firing off similar claims in the future,” said Abbey.

Israeli cabinet minister Ze’ev Elkin was milder in his response, describing Sanders’ account of the casualty claims “weird” and “loony.”

“Anyone who knows a little about what happened in Operation Protective Edge understands that this was a weird and loony statement,” the minister told Israel radio on Thursday. “What is ultimately important is what they (candidates) do and not what they say in election campaigns. Therefore, I recommend to us all that we get a little less excited about this-or-that statement that is made.”


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