Former Israeli Ambassador Demands Apology From Sanders For Accusing Military of 'Blood Libel'

Cortney O'Brien
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Posted: Apr 07, 2016 12:30 PM
Former Israeli Ambassador Demands Apology From Sanders For Accusing Military of 'Blood Libel'

Bernie Sanders is still facing fallout from his disastrous New York Daily News interview published this week. While Hillary Clinton is using it to prove he has not done his homework on domestic policy issues, Israeli politicians are fuming over one of his foreign policy stumbles.

In his NYDN conversation, Sanders suggested Israel had killed over 10,000 innocent people in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. 

"I'm just telling you that I happen to believe," he said in the interview. "Anybody help me out here, because I don't remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?"

No, it doesn't. The facts prove the senator’s figures were terribly inaccurate.

Sanders’ figures surpassed Palestinian estimations by far, and, in fact, exceeded the total number of Palestinians killed since Hamas seized power in Gaza. The UN Human Rights Council cites Palestinian figures that there were 1,462 civilian fatalities out of 2,251 Gazans killed in the 2014 operation. Israel says half of the Palestinians killed were combatants, pointing out that Hamas puts rocket launchers and digs tunnels in areas populated by civilians. 

Israeli leadership is frustrated over Sanders’ inflated numbers, particularly former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who is demanding the presidential candidate say sorry.

“First of all, he should get his facts right. Secondly, he owes Israel an apology,” Michael Oren, a member of the country's Knesset and the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013, told The Times of Israel. “He accused us of a blood libel. He accused us of bombing hospitals. He accused us of killing 10,000 Palestinian civilians. Don’t you think that merits an apology?”

Other leading Israeli figures were more forgiving. Democrats Abroad Israel spokesman Sheldon Schorer, for instance, called Sanders’ misspeak an “honest error" that wasn't intended to malign Israel.

While a gaffe would perhaps be more pardonable, it only further calls into question whether Sanders is fully versed on global affairs.