Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) condemned an effort by House Democratic leadership to rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for comments she made about the influence of pro-Israel lobby on American foreign policy.
“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel,” Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday. “Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace.
“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate,” he continued. “That’s wrong.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) provided a similar statement shortly after Sanders on Wednesday.
“We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” Harris said in a statement. “But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”
“We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country,” she continued. “I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy by all leaders in the region ― and a commitment by our country to help achieve that.”