Sanders’ Jewish Jabs Incite Israel


Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Democratic nominee candidate Bernie Sanders faces controversy over stance on Israel.

The USA has long had a history of supporting the state of Israel; as a democracy in a sea of authoritarianism, a former buffer state to Russia’s influence, and as a strategic location in the Middle East, Israel serves a unique diplomatic interest for the USA. US-Israel relations were even strengthened by President Trump’s decision lately to support Israel’s decision to annex Jewish settlements in Palestine, a controversial approach criticized by many.

However, this relationship could have the potential to deteriorate, as Bernie Sanders edges ahead in the Democratic presidential nominee candidate race. Sanders has voiced his disapproval of Israel’s actions toward Palestine, and has recently denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

During a Democratic debate on February 25th, Sanders claimed that Netanyahu was a “reactionary racist.” Sanders also claimed that if he was to earn the presidency, he would consider reversing Trump’s controversial move to relocate the US Embassy from the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a contested cultural site between Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.

Sanders has also claimed that he would reduce foreign aid to Israel, and instead redirect it to the Palestinians. Sanders has decried Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and has claimed that people cannot ignore the “suffering of the Palestinian people.” 

Since the Zionist movement in the mid-20th century to establish the Jewish state of Israel, there has been conflict between Jews and Palestinians. Wars between Israel and Arab states has led to Israel annexing parts of the West Bank, a territory sandwiched between Jewish-majority Israel and Islam-majority Palestine, two opposing religions that have laid claim to the holy city of Jerusalem which is culturally valuable to both religions.

Ethnic conflict has occasionally broken out into outright violence between Israel and Palestine, resulting in deaths on both sides. Even though Sanders is Jewish himself and has said that he is “very proud” of it, he harshly criticizes modern Israeli politics in handling the situation with Palestine, leading to his disapproval.

Sander’s opinion has led to increasing concerns in Israel as Sanders becomes an increasingly popular Democratic nominee candidate. Some advocates have even described Sander’s actions as anti-semitic. Yair Lapid, a Jewish figure who desires to earn the position of foreign minister for Israel, has said that Sanders’ actions are worrying because he lacks “understanding of [the] unique situation in the Middle East.” Regardless of what the future holds for US-Israeli relations, there is no doubt that diplomacy between the USA and Israel is bound to develop into something better or for worse.