Vermont Independent Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders came to the defense of Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar on Wednesday amid a torrent of criticism she’s received over comments about Israel that some are criticizing as anti-Semitic.
“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world,” Sanders, who is Jewish, said in a statement to The Hill. “We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel. Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace,” he added.
“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate,” he continued. “That’s wrong.”
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said last week at an event last week at an even in Washington, D.C.
“I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?” she said in reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).