Sanders: My Pride for Israel Lives Alongside My Support for Palestinian Freedom

Bernie Sanders pens an essay for left-wing magazine Jewish Currents, argues that Trump’s 'own words helped inspire the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history'

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. with supporters in the Nashua Pride Parade in Nashua, N.H., June 29, 2019.
Cheryl Senter / AP

Bernie Sanders published an essay titled “How to Fight Antisemitism” — perhaps his most expansive written consideration of his Jewish identity — in a Jewish publication on Monday.

In the article for the left-wing magazine Jewish Currents, the Democratic presidential candidate says he is firmly proud to be Jewish and to support Israel. He also argues that denying the right of Jews to self-determination is anti-Semitic.

Otherwise, Sanders focuses on the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S., mostly as it manifests on the right, and criticizes President Donald Trump. But he also notes the existence of anti-Semitism from the left.

“I think it is very important for everyone, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution,” Sanders writes about Israel. “It is true that some criticism of Israel can cross the line into antisemitism, especially when it denies the right of self-determination to Jews, or when it plays into conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish power.”

Sanders, who notes his time spent in Israel in 1963 when he was a young man, also speaks out for Palestinian rights.

“My pride and admiration for Israel lives alongside my support for Palestinian freedom and independence,” he says. “I reject the notion that there is any contradiction there.”

Sanders has allied with surrogates like Linda Sarsour, an activist, and Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan congresswoman, who are harshly critical of Israel — not just because of its policies, but of its status as a Jewish state.

Sanders writes, "We must also be honest about this: The founding of Israel is understood by another people in the land of Palestine as the cause of their painful displacement."

The Vermont senator also argues that Trump’s “own words helped inspire the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history,” referring to the shooting a year ago at the Tree of Life synagogue building in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead.

Sanders argues "One of the most dangerous things Trump has done is to divide Americans by using false allegations of antisemitism, mostly regarding the US–Israel relationship."

“We will confront this hatred, do exactly the opposite of what Trump is doing and embrace our differences to bring people together,” Sanders writes.