Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to the crowd during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sanders Says If Israel Wants to Ban Members of Congress, It Should Not Receive Billions in US Military Aid

"The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders told MSNBC Thursday night that perhaps Israel should not be receiving billions of dollars in U.S. military aid after the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.

"I wish I could tell you...that I am shocked. I am not," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said of President Donald Trump's support for Israel's decision. "We have a president who, tragically, is a racist, is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot."

On Friday morning, the New York Times reported that Israel will allow Tlaib to visit her 90-year-old grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank. Israel did not change its position on Omar.

Sanders said Thursday that "the idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage."

"And if Israel doesn't want members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a firsthand look at what's going on—and I've been there many, many times—but if he doesn't want members to visit, maybe [Netanyahu] can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel," Sanders added.

Watch:

Progressives applauded Sanders' remarks, noting that the senator's willingness to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel makes him unique in the 2020 Democratic presidential field.

"People have been asking how Bernie can distinguish himself from rivals who at least profess agreement on domestic issues," tweeted HuffPost reporter Daniel Marans. "This is one area where the distinction is clear."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called the Vermont senator's statement "a big deal."

"One thing that is completely undeniable about Bernie Sanders is the enormous political courage he consistently wields on behalf of others," tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. "He's not just standing up for two members—he's standing for the integrity of the entire U.S. Congress."

In addition to his comments on MSNBC, Sanders, who is Jewish, released an online video to push back against the specific claim made by President Trump and many others that to criticize the policies of the Israeli government is to be anti-Semitic—a charge he said is "disgusting."

Sanders' appearance on MSNBC Thursday night was not the first time the senator has called out U.S. military aid to Israel as the Netanyahu government enacts racist policies and commits atrocities against Palestinians.

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations last month, Sanders said, if elected president in 2020, he would "be willing to bring real pressure to bear on both sides, including conditioning military aid, to create consequences for moves that undermine the chances for peace."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·


Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·


10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·


Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo