Pro-Israel Lobby AIPAC Pushes Back After Bernie Sanders Calls Netanyahu Government ‘Racist’

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
AIPAC Challenges Bernie
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., takes part in a Fox News town-hall style event, Monday April 15, 2019 in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, has Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in its crosshairs – again. This time it’s because Sanders called Israel’s government “right-wing” and “racist” during a recent town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire broadcast by CNN.

Sanders said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “a right-wing politician who … is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.” Netanyahu recently won re-election and Sanders is a known, outspoken critic of him. He also sided with freshman U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar when she was accused of anti-semitic comments.

His response came after being asked by a Harvard student how he would maintain the strong U.S.-Israel relationship despite his criticism of Netanyahu if elected.

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After the broadcast, AIPAC tweeted: “The U.S.-Israel alliance serves America’s interests,” AIPAC said Tuesday on Twitter. “We benefit from the close bonds between the governments and peoples. Name-calling by political leaders against the democratically elected government of Israel is counterproductive to maintaining close ties and advancing peace.”

An AIPAC official confirmed though the tweet didn’t mention Sanders, it was aimed at him, reported HAARETZ.

This isn’t the first time AIPAC has taken aim at Sanders. In February, they ran a campaign on Facebook telling American voters to sign an online petition to let Sanders know America stands with Israel, reported The Intercept.

Sanders, who is Jewish, stressed that he is not anti-Israel. Citing time spent in the country and family who resides there, Sanders said he said he is pro-Israel, but wants to see the U.S. government “deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis.”