Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asserted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading an “extreme right-wing government with many racist tendencies” and questioned the U.S.’s “pro-Israel” foreign policy during an interview with Pod Save America last week.
Sanders told host Jon Favreau that he would “absolutely” consider using U.S. aid as leverage to “get the Israeli government to act differently” and stressed that he is not “anti-Israel” before proclaiming that U.S. foreign policy “cannot just be pro-Israel, pro-Israel, pro-Israel.” While he acknowledged that the people of Israel “have absolutely the right to live in peace, independence, and security,” he said U.S. policy should be “pro-region.”
I mean we are giving large sums of money look, let me let me back it up before the tweets start flowing in–I lived in Israel. Actually, I worked in a kibbutz for a number of months. I have family in Israel. I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel. Okay, I believe that the people of Israel have absolutely the right to live in peace, independence and security. End of discussion–that is what I fervently believe. But I think what has happened is in recent years under Netanyahu, you have an extreme right-wing government with many racist tendencies. The role of the United States and this is not easy–you know, believe me–Clinton tried it, Obama tried it, Jimmy Carter tried it. This is not easy stuff–is to try to finally bring peace to the Middle East and to treat the Palestinian people with a kind of respect and dignity they deserve. Our policy cannot just be pro-Israel, pro-Israel, pro-Israel. It has got to be pro-region working with all of the people, all of the countries in that area.
The Vermont senator added that the Israeli government has become “an extreme right-wing government with many racist tendencies” under Netanyahu’s leadership:
That is not the first time Sanders has referred to Netanyahu’s government as “racist.” During a CNN town hall in April, Sanders said the leader is a “right-wing politician” who is “treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”
“What I believe is not radical,” Sanders, who adamantly stressed that he is not “anti-Israel,” continued. “I just believe that the United States should deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis.”
“In other words, the goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, you know, dare I say, racist government,” he added.