Bernie Sanders Calls Israeli PM Netanyahu ‘Racist’ During December Debate

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “racist” at the sixth Democratic debate watched by 6 million viewers. Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 3, 2019. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP) Sanders introduces the Medicare for All Act of 2019, on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “racist” at the sixth Democratic debate Thursday in Los Angeles, watched by 6 million viewers.

Sanders has previously referred to the Netanyahu administration as racist over its treatment of Palestinians. In the April Democratic debate, Sanders said he was “100 percent pro-Israel” but proposed changing U.S. foreign policy toward it, Reuters reported.

“The goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government,” Sanders said in the April debate, adding that Netanyahu “is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly”.

Sanders hasn’t used the term on the Israeli prime minister personally until now.

The Vermont senator was responding to a question about how he would handle foreign policy in the Middle East. U.S. foreign policy should be favorable to both Israel and Palestine, said Sanders, who spent time as a young man working on an Israeli kibbutz.

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“Israel has the right not only to exist, but to exist in peace and security,” Sanders said Thursday, but added that the U.S. must be pro-Palestinian as well as pro-Israel.

“We must understand that right now in Israel we have leadership who has been indicted for bribery, who, in my view, is a racist.”

Calling Netanyahu racist is a harsh insult for a man with whom Sanders may soon have to work closely, Marianne Dodson reported for The Week.

Sanders mentioned that he’d be the first Jewish president if elected. “What we need is a level playing field in terms of the Middle East which addresses the terrible crisis in Gaza, where 60 or 70 percent of the young people are unemployed,” Sanders said.