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Tipsheet

'I'm Not Anti-Israel, But...': Bernie Addresses His Feud With AIPAC

AP Photo/John Locher

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) did not attend this weekend's American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. Both Republicans and Democrats spoke at the event. But, as Sanders explained last week, he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights." He added at a recent Democratic debate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a "reactionary racist."

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On Sunday's "Face the Nation," Sanders acknowledged that his stance against AIPAC can come with a political cost, because the pro-Israel lobby has "a lot of money and power."

"Look, I'm Jewish and I'm very proud of my Jewish heritage," he said for starters. "As a kid I spent time in Israel. I am not anti-Israel. I will do everything I can to protect the independence and the security and the freedom of the Israeli people."

"But what we need in this country is a foreign policy that not only protects Israel but deals with the suffering of the Palestinian people as well," he continued.

As more than one person has pointed out, Sanders has shown more contempt for Israel's leaders than for brutal, murderous, communist dictator Fidel Castro. He conceded that Castro had cruelly silenced dissidents, but he praised Castro for teaching Cubans to read. 

In his AIPAC remarks over the weekend, Israeli UN ambassador Danny Danon called Sanders an "ignorant fool" for his description of Netanyahu.

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"Anyone who calls our prime minister racist is either a liar, an ignorant fool, or both," he said of Sanders. "We don’t want Sanders at AIPAC. We don’t want him in Israel.”

AIPAC at large had no patience for Sanders's slight either.

Sanders is currently one of the frontrunners in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, but former Vice President Joe Biden soundly won Saturday's South Carolina Primary. We'll get a better idea of who the true frontrunner is this Super Tuesday.

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