heard yesterday

Sanders advisor: We won’t have a problem working with the Israeli government

Center for American Progress

Matt Duss speaks during a panel discussion in 2010.

Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, discussed the 2020 frontrunner’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and relations with Israel during the Quincy Institute leadership forum, held in conjunction with Foreign Policy, in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

Vocal and critical: “Senator Sanders has been clear about the principles that he supports and the goal and it’s a goal that is shared by — I think — a clear majority of Americans,” Duss said. “I think he’s been willing to be more critical of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in particular, as he has been more vocal and critical about right-wing nationalists around the world, recognizing that is a global trend that is very problematic for those of us who support human rights and democracy. At the end of the day, the Israeli government is full of professionals who understand Israel’s security needs. There are longstanding relationships at various levels between the U.S. and Israel. And we don’t think we’ll have a problem moving forward in trying — trying at least — and probably finding very quickly some common ground.”

Jerusalem reaction: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted on Wednesday to Sanders’s constant attacks against him, most recently calling him a “reactionary racist” during Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina. “What I think about this matter is that he is definitely wrong,” Netanyahu said during an interview with Army Radio. “No question about it.” Netanyahu pointed out that the reason he withstood pressure from the Obama administration for eight years was because he was able to influence U.S. public opinion, “and if we will be pressured into doing dangerous things, I will know how to oppose that — and I am not afraid of a showdown.” 

Bonus: Jeremy Burton, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, tells Washington Post reporter Michelle Boorstein that the common theme he’s hearing is anxiety among American Jews about having a Jewish nominee or president, whether the person is Bernie Sanders or Michael Bloomberg. “At the end of the day, Jews know antisemitism is part of the DNA of Western civilization,” he explained. 

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