Bernie Sanders: To speak against Netanyahu is not anti-Israel

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was asked about support for Israel during a town hall meeting Muscatine, Iowa on Saturday.

Marc Daniels, equipped with ‘Jews for Bernie’ and ‘Make America Kosher Again’ gear, asked: There’s a particular delicatessen on Polk Boulevard in Des Moines where Jews all over the city in central Iowa get together six days a week — not today, of course, because it’s Shabbat — and talk politics. If you were noshing on a corned beef sandwich in that delicatessen tomorrow, what would you say to the Jews of Des Moines, to tell them why you are good for the American Jewish community and why you are good for Israel?

Sanders: “Right now, I am good for the Jewish community for the same reason I’m good for every other community in this country — because the issues that we are fighting for impact every single American. I’m going to answer your question specifically, but before I do, I want to thank you and the Jewish community in Des Moines for speaking up for the Muslim community. One of the really sad things that is happening in this country is we’re seeing an increase in hate crimes and we’re seeing a president who is trying to divide us up. And this guy is a religious bigot — in my view — he’s a racist and he’s a sexist among many other fine attributes that he has. Two weeks ago I was in Los Angeles and this was after the terrible shooting — a horrible shooting — in New Zealand where some lunatic walked into a mosque and killed 50 people because they were Muslims. It is absolutely important that different religions work together and to stand with each other — because you’re also seeing not only a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in this country but antisemitism as well.”

“Now in terms of Israel, let me be very honest with you. I think that Benjamin Netanyahu is a extreme right-wing leader in Israel. I do not support his policies, and I think that to speak against Netanyahu is not to be anti-Israel. And what I believe is that we, in fact, need a two-state solution to the Middle East ongoing crisis and that the United States needs to have an even-handed policy. We need to tell the leaders in Israel and to tell the leaders in the Palestinian movement that they have got to sit down, and we have the leverage to do that and negotiate peace agreements in good faith. That is  the kind of president that I would be.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.