TEL AVIV — Throwing his hat into the 2020 presidential ring, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ troubling views on the Jewish state and his uninformed and false anti-Israel statements are sure to take center stage as the presidential race heats up.
Below, in no particular order, are eight examples of Sanders’ anti-Israel views or ties.
1 – Sanders says the U.S. should “rethink” military aid to Israel.
Speaking to The Intercept in September 2017, Sanders was asked whether he would, as the publication phrased the question, ever “consider voting to reduce U.S. aid to Israel — worth at least $3bn per annum — or U.S. arms sales to the Israeli military.” Sanders gave a response that ended with, “So the answer is yes.”
He explained that he would rework U.S. military aid to ensure that Israel, one of the most energy efficient and environmentally-conscious countries in the world, would “work with other countries on environmental issues.” And he said that he would help rebuild Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.
The U.S. funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how U.S. aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area. So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues.
“So the answer is yes,” Sanders concluded with regard to the question about reducing U.S. aid to Israel.
2 – Sanders admitted to seeking foreign policy advice from critics of the Jewish state.
In a 2016 interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, the Democratic candidate gave the following reply when asked about his plans for Secretary of Defense should he become president: “We talked to people like Jim Zogby, talked to the people on J Street, to get a broad perspective of the Middle East.”
While the George Soros-funded J Street describes itself as a liberal, pro-Israel lobby, it has faced mounting criticism for the policies it advocates, which many argue are harmful to the Jewish state.
In 2009, the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. refused to send its ambassador to J Street’s first national conference, explaining that the organization’s policies could harm Israel’s interests.
J Street supports the international nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heavily lobbied against on the grounds of Israeli and U.S. national security.
President of the Arab American Institute James Zogby — Sanders’ other stated go-to source for foreign policy advice — is notoriously anti-Israel. He refers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a “legitimate and moral response to Israeli policy.”
In the past, Zogby has attempted to rationalize Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, saying that he was trying to understand “why the perpetrators [of terrorist acts] acted as they did or why there are people whose anger and despair bring them to support this or that crime.”
Zogby, who is of Lebanese descent, has described Hezbollah terrorists as “the Lebanese armed resistance.”
3 – Outdoing Hamas’s own propaganda figures, Sanders falsely claimed that Israel killed “over 10,000 innocent people” during the 2014 Gaza War.
Sanders made the outlandish comments during an April 2016 interview with the New York Daily News. They vastly inflate the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in during the 2014 Gaza War.
“I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza,” Sanders told the paper’s editorial board.
Here, Sanders actually outdoes Hamas’s own anti-Israel disinformation.
Israel and the Palestinians published different figures for the death toll of Operation Protective Edge, as Israel dubbed it, but both put the number of dead well below 2,500, including both civilians and militants. Israel says 1,408 of 2,203 Palestinians killed in the war were militants. Hamas claimed more than half were civilians.
When discussing civilian casualties, let’s remember that Palestinian militants use civilians as human shields and house their terrorist infrastructures in densely populated civilian areas.
Still, Israel goes beyond what many other countries do to protect civilians. The IDF regularly warns civilians of incoming attacks with phone calls and text messages. It further employs “roof knocking” — or firing warning shots before any aerial bombing. If civilians still don’t evacuate, the Israeli army often makes announcements on loudspeakers. The IDF has called off scores of military raids because civilians were in the way.
4 – Sanders accused Israel of a “disproportionate” response during the Gaza War.
“Was Israel’s response disproportionate? I think it was,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview.
First, let’s not forget why the Gaza War was launched in the first place. Hamas repeatedly violated a truce by firing scores of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian population zones. In one day alone, July 8, Hamas launched 40 rockets into Israel, prompting Israeli retaliation and the start of the conflict.
What nation on earth would allow a terrorist army to amass a rocket infrastructure in a neighboring territory and use that land — which Israel evacuated in hope of peace — as a staging ground for constant terrorist rocket attacks?
And by calling Israel’s self-defense “disproportionate,” what exactly is Sanders advocating? That instead of acting to minimize the terrorist threat against its civilians, Israel should respond to every act of Palestinian terrorism with an equivalent act? So if Hamas fires a rocket into a Jewish city, Israel should therefore respond by indiscriminately launching a terror rocket into a Palestinian city with the intent of killing civilians? That the next time a Palestinian stabs an Israeli, the Jewish state should send one of its own into Ramallah to stab a Palestinian civilian?
Sanders’s statement is preposterous, nonsensical, and negates Israel’s ability to defend itself and degrade Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure.
In his CNN interview, Sanders further exposed his own ignorance when he conceded that not only was he unaware that Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., criticized Sanders one week prior for his comments on the Gaza war; Sanders didn’t even know who Oren was.
CNN reported on the exchange:
Who is Mr. Oren?” Sanders asked, apparently unaware of Israel’s top diplomat to the U.S. during President Barack Obama’s first term.
“Michael Oren, the former ambassador of Israel to the United States. And now he’s a politician in Israel,” Tapper said.
“I see. And he’s attacking me for a statement I did not make,” Sanders said.
5 – Sanders claimed that Israel bombed “hospitals” during the Gaza war, implying that the Jewish state actually attacked civilian medical facilities.
During his Daily News interview, Sanders stated that Israel bombed “hospitals.”
“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,” Sanders said.
Sanders left out that the IDF bombed a wing of Gaza’s empty Al-Wafa Hospital, with the Israeli army saying the building was being used as a Hamas terrorist command center and a launching site for rockets. No casualties were reported in the bombing, and Israel first fired numerous warning shots and ensured that the building was entirely evacuated.
Haaretz reported at the time:
Israel bombed Gaza’s Al-Wafa Hospital from the air on Wednesday, saying it was being used as a Hamas command center and rocket-launching site.
The hospital was empty, after its patients and medical staff had left on July 17. Contrary to reports, militants had not been in the hospital before its evacuation.
The Israel Defense Forces said the strike was aimed at “specific terror targets within the hospital compound.” It said Hamas operatives had fired at IDF forces in recent days from the compound, using light weapons and anti-tank fire “which increased in recent hours, endangering our troops.”
Instead of blasting Hamas for using a hospital to house it’s terrorist infrastructure and a launching pad for rockets fired at Israel, Sanders mindlessly defamed the IDF and continued to expose his own stupidity on Mideast affairs.
6 – Sanders compared the democratic, pro-human rights, terrorist-condemning Israeli government and society to the anti-democratic, human rights abusing, terrorist-supporting Palestinian leadership, as well as Palestinian society in general, which is also mostly supportive of terrorism.
This gem was made in the speech he would have delivered had he attended the 2016 convention of the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Sanders instead boycotted the AIPAC convention and his 2016 campaign released the text of the speech instead. Sanders was the only presidential candidate not to speak at AIPAC’s conference that year.
“The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace. And the other truth is there are despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism,” said Sanders.
Which “despots” exactly exist on the Israeli side? Is he really comparing some members of the democratically-elected, human rights-supporting Israeli government to actual despots on the Palestinian side?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has bypassed elections since 2007, ruling instead by enacting annual “emergency” decrees. His Fatah party’s official “military wing” is the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist group, which is responsible for scores of murderous terror attacks. And the fascist Hamas leadership, which calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel, rules over a notoriously bloody tyranny in the Gaza Strip.
7 – Sanders claimed Israel enforces an “economic blockade” of Gaza.
“Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza,” his undelivered AIPAC speech stated.
As I previously noted, here Sanders is outright echoing Hamas propaganda. There is no economic blockade of Gaza. In response to repeated rocket fire by Gazan terrorists aimed at nearby Israeli civilian population zones, Israel in 2007 imposed a land, air, and sea military blockade of Gaza to ensure that Hamas cannot bring more weapons and rockets into the coastal enclave. This was after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 in hopes that the Palestinians would use the territory for peaceful means. Instead, the Gazans elected Hamas to power and the Strip was used as a launching ground for thousands of attacks on Israel.
Contrary to popular belief, all kinds and quantities of consumer goods can be imported into the Gaza Strip through border crossings with Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states “border crossings have a capacity of 800 trucks a day, in order to meet all of Gaza’s import demands. Every single day, about 550 truckloads of goods, carrying everything from foodstuffs to vehicles, pass into Gaza from Israel.”
The only import restrictions, the Ministry explains, involve “weapons and a list of dual-use items which can be used in the production of weapons and terrorist infrastructure. Dual-use items can be imported into Gaza subject to a security screening.”
Indeed, Hamas has been caught using imported concrete to build its terror tunnels. A single tunnel utilizes 500 tons of concrete or more.
Also contrary to popular belief, Gaza in modern times has never had a port capable of handling cargo ships; it has relied almost entirely on the transport of goods across the borders with Israel or Egypt.
Besides transporting goods, the Ministry documents:
Israel also supplies the Gaza Strip with millions of cubic meters of water every year and more than half of its electricity. In the beginning of March 2015, Israel announced that it was implementing plans to double the water supplied to Gaza, from 5 million to 10 million cubic meters of water annually (2.6 billion U.S. gallons). These plans had been delayed by the Palestinian refusal to participate in Joint Water Committee meetings.
8 – Sanders volunteered in Israel for a Marxist revolutionary group.
Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported that in 1963 Sanders volunteered at a kibbutz in northern Israel as the guest of a Marxist-socialist youth movement with a revolutionary mission.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Israeli reporters were searching for the name of the kibbutz on which Sanders spent several months in 1963. The politician, who has not been shy about his affinity for socialism, was reluctant to disclose much about his Jewish upbringing or his time in Israel, where he traveled with his first wife, Deborah Shiling.
Sanders’ presidential campaign conspicuously refused to answer inquiries about the identity of the kibbutz.
Jerusalem Post Intelligence and Security columnist Yossi Melman previously revealed that Sanders volunteered the information about the kibbutz during an interview with the reporter in 1990, while Melman was the intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
The 1990 interview, discovered in the Haaretz archive, cites Sanders saying that in 1963 he spent several months at Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim in northern Israel as a guest of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, which was affiliated with the kibbutz.
The information garnered some media attention from Israel-themed outlets.
Yet the ensuing news media coverage failed to mention that, as Breitbart News reported, Hashomer Hatzair was an openly Marxist movement that sought to use Zionism as the first stage of a utopian plan for Israel. The second stage was to be a revolution that would transform Israel into an Arab-Jewish socialist paradise.
Hashomer Hatzair currently identifies as a progressive Zionist organization and is a member of the International Falcon Movement-Socialist Education International.
Hashomer Hatzair runs a youth program in the U.S. that says it “encourages youth to build progressive Jewish values, explore connections to Israel and the Jewish community, and develop a commitment to social, environmental and economic justice.”
The organization, founded in Europe in 1913 to prepare young socialists for the move to Mandatory Palestine, has rebranded its mission numerous times. It was once a revolutionary Marxist organization.
Movement members first settled in Mandatory Palestine in 1919 and seven years later founded several kibbutzim as well as a political party called the Socialist League of Palestine.
In a lengthy history for the Van Leer Jerusalem Foundation, Hebrew University Political Science Professor and prolific author Shlomo Avineri in 1977 documented the Marxist revolutionary ideology of the Hashomer Hatzair movement.
In a 404-page work titled Varieties of Marxism, Avineri recounted the Marxist “baptism” of Hashomer Hatzair, which he referred to as HH, in the 1920s as “one of the most exciting intellectual chapters in the modern history of Zionism and Palestine.”
It bears testimony to the historical essentiality of Marxism in those years, which saw a new wave of Marxism that was to grow and intensify until it reached its political peak in the 1950s, whereupon it would disintegrate in face of political reality
Unlike other pragmatic socialist movements at the time, Hashomer Hatzair refused to accept constructivism as the main content of class war in the Palestinian reality, or to contend that socialism could be realized without revolution.
Hashomer Hatzair saw Zionism, or support for a Jewish national homeland, as an entryway into the Jewish state in order to accomplish a socialist revolution in two phases. It enumerated this mission by creating its own “Etatist Theory,” according to which “Jewish socialist society would be realized in two stages,” wrote Avineiri.
The historian elaborated:
In the first stage, the Jewish national home would be established in Eretz Israel, based on a productive and self-sufficient economic foundation. In the second stage, the social revolution itself would be accomplished.
The function of the Zionist movement and Zionist cooperation was limited to the first stage only; it would be terminated after the economic, cultural, and political foundations had been laid in Palestine, and after the national funds, based on national donations, were no longer required. Partnership with the Zionists was therefore considered only temporary.
The social revolution was to be realized, however, by the international organization of the workers, i.e. Jewish-Arab collaboration. This “theory of stages” formulated by Meir Yaari had many advantages for HH. It could continue to participate in the Zionist Organization, to build socialist cells within the framework of the existing regime, and at the same time to maintain revolutionary radicalism.
While that radicalism may now be tempered, the group continues to maintain its socialist identity.
In 2008, Haaretz reported on the continuing efforts of Hashomer Hatzair to spread socialism in Israel and worldwide.
The newspaper reported on a world conference marking the movement’s 95th anniversary that attempted to update the organization’s basic tenets. Participants in the 2008 conference could not agree on which style of socialism to adopt. “While Latin American graduates favored classic socialism, the European delegates sided with democratic socialism,” reported Haaretz.
The newspaper continued, quoting a delegate from Argentina:
According to Dana Merweiss, from Argentina, the way to implement socialism today is by education and creating communities with socialist awareness. Levine said the movement in the past required its members to work within its community, but today “we say we should also work outside our community as part of the fulfillment of the principle of socialism. In Argentina we work in poor neighborhoods, Jewish and non-Jewish,” he said.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.