Sanders Returns to Childhood Home in Brooklyn
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday returned to the Brooklyn neighborhood he was brought up as a child, kicking off his New York weekend with campaign rally outside his childhood home on E. 26th street in Midwood.
“Thank you for coming out to my old neighborhood. I spent the first 18 years of my life in apartment 2C right here,” Sanders said standing on a stage outside 1525 East 26th street. “Right on this street, I spent thousands of hours playing punch ball.”
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) April 8, 2016
As Sanders gave his traditional stump speech, some local Jewish teenagers yelled, “We love you, Bernie,” as one of them waved a campaign poster with “Shabbat Shalom” scribbled on the top.
But not all Orthodox Jewish residents were welcoming of the 74-year-old Jewish senator.
Outside the gated venue, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat and a Midwood resident, and a handful of local activists protested Sanders over his comments on the Israel-Gaza war in 2014.
“I’m surprised that Senator Sanders would come to our community just days after leveling a heinous blood libel against Israel and the Jewish people,” Kalman Yeger, a Midwood resident and a Kings County Democratic County Committee (AD45) member, told Jewish Insider. “If he believes that Hamas is “innocent” and Israel perpetrates crimes, then he is fundamentally unqualified to be president, or even a U.S. Senator. Bernie Sanders doesn’t represent the Democratic Party or the values of the people of Midwood.”
“Bernie Sanders is right now in the one of the heaviest Jewish neighborhoods after he had offended a lot of Jewish people by saying Israel killed thousands of Palestinians,” said Andrew Wolpin as he observed dozens of Jewish residents waiting in line. “We need an apology for that. Bernie has to apologize to the Jewish people about this slanderous remark and blood libel.”
The Sanders campaign fired back at the Jewish senator’s critics, accusing them of distorting his comments. “As many people know, Sen. Sanders, as a young man, spent months in Israel and, in fact, has family living there now. There is no candidate for president who will be a stronger supporter of Israel’s right to exist in freedom, peace and security,” Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement. “The idea that Sen. Sanders stated definitely that 10,000 Palestinians were killed is just not accurate and a distortion of that discussion. Bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be easy. It would help if candidates’ positions on this issue are not distorted.”
The clarification wasn’t good enough for Assemblyman Hikind. After attempting to confront Sanders as he entered the building, Hikind went up to Sanders’ wife, Jane, and expressed his disapproval of Sanders’ misstatement and demanding an apology. “What he did was a victory for terrorism,” Hikind told reporters following the rally. “He is the most popular guy with Hezbollah, Hamas, and terrorist organizations.”
“He owes the people of Israel and us an apology,” he added.