Bernie Sanders defends Ilhan Omar: ‘Not anti-Semitic to be critical’ of Israel

April 16, 2019 GMT

Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, on Monday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar when asked about her anti-Semitic comments.

“I will do everything in my power, and I hope every member of Congress will fight not only anti-Semitism, but racism and anti-Muslim activity so we create a non-discriminatory society, but it is not anti-Semitic to be critical of a right-wing government in Israel. It is not anti-Semitic,” Mr. Sanders, Vermont independent, said during a Fox News town hall.

Ms. Omar, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, has faced accusations of anti-Semitism since criticizing pro-Israel lobbyist groups and questioning the loyalty of Jewish lawmakers who pushed back against her criticisms of the Israeli government.


Mr. Sanders said Ms. Omar, Minnesota Democrat, may “need to do a better job speaking to the Jewish community,” but he wants to support”a Muslim member of Congress not to be attacked every single day in outrageous, racist remarks.”

The senator also added that despite supporting her, he has “talked to Ilhan about twice in my life.”

Mr. Sanders is one of the almost 20 Democrats currently vying to be the nominee to challenge President Trump in the 2020 election.

He has consistently come in second in polls, trailing behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who has yet to officially enter the race.