Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) came to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Wednesday, condemning an effort by House Democratic leadership to rebuke Omar for comments she made about the influence of pro-Israel lobby on American foreign policy.
“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel,” Sanders, who became the first Jewish politician to win a state’s presidential primary in 2016, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace.
“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.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) provided a similar statement shortly after Sanders on Wednesday.
“We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” Harris said in a statement. “But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”
“We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country,” she continued. “I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy by all leaders in the region ― and a commitment by our country to help achieve that.”
President Trump panned House Democrats for not taking a stronger stance against Omar’s statements, calling their response “shameful.”
It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2019
In July of 2016, then-Republican candidate Trump tweeted a graphic that had previously appeared on an “anti-Semitic, white supremacist message board,” CNN reported at the time.
“Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!” Trump tweeted at the time.
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 3, 2017