Bernie Sanders, Progressives Call Out Antisemitism Amid Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Senator Bernie Sanders and other prominent progressive lawmakers condemned antisemistism as well as Islamophobia after a wave of attacks and incidents targeting Jewish Americans amid the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli military and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have reached a ceasefire agreement, which appeared to be holding on Saturday as mediators held talks with both sides, according to Reuters. The 11-day conflict left more than 240 Palestinians dead, including 66 children, The Associated Press reported. More than 1,900 Palestinians were injured as well, while 12 people were killed in Israel—including a child and a teenager.

Meanwhile, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators have clashed in U.S. cities, as there has been an uptick in antisemitic attacks targeting Jewish Americans.

"We've recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia. If you are committed to a future of equality and peaceful coexistence, please stand united against anyone who promotes hatred of any kind," Sanders, a Vermont independent who is Jewish American, tweeted on Friday evening.

We’ve recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia. If you are committed to a future of equality and peaceful coexistence, please stand united against anyone who promotes hatred of any kind.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 22, 2021

Other progressives shared similar messages against hate and anti-semitism.

"We will never, ever tolerate antisemitism here in NY or anywhere in the world. The recent surge in attacks is horrifying. We stand with our Jewish communities in condemning this violence," Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, tweeted on Friday.

We will never, ever tolerate antisemitism here in NY or anywhere in the world.

The recent surge in attacks is horrifying. We stand with our Jewish communities in condemning this violence.

You can help. Take NYC’s free, 1hr bystander intervention course: https://t.co/NCHJxvVHbU

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 21, 2021

Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, shared an article about an attack at a restaurant in Los Angeles that is being investigated as an antisemitic hate crime. The congresswoman condemned the violence.

"Horrific and unacceptable. Nobody should face threats and harassment based on their religion or ethnicity," Omar wrote. "This has to stop."

Horrific and unacceptable. Nobody should face threats and harassment based on their religion or ethnicity.

This has to stop. https://t.co/9QUgNm39UB

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 21, 2021

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat who is Palestinian-American, retweeted Sanders' post and shared a quote from legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

"'I have decided to stick to love... Hate is too great a burden to bear.' ― Martin Luther King Jr. We won't be free if we come from a place of hate + violence + racism," Tlaib wrote.

“I have decided to stick to love... Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

We won't be free if we come from a place of hate + violence + racism. https://t.co/k88Ym3aF8y

— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 22, 2021

Antisemitic attacks were reported in Los Angeles, New York and other cities across the country as tensions between supporters of Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstratos reached a boiling point this past week. In New York, a 29-year-old Jewish man was assaulted by five or six individuals kicking, punching and yelling antisemitic remarks.

Some critics of Sanders and other progressives have conflated lawmakers' criticism of the Israeli government with antisemitism. As the conflict unfolded, Sanders and a number of other prominent progressive Democrats have repeatedly voiced support for Palestinians, raising alarms about Israeli's treatment of the population as well as human rights concerns.

"But Bernie Sanders—who's Jewish—is a self-hating Jew, a self-hating Jew who is willing to see Israel be defeated militarily by a terrorist group because he's on the hard left," controversial attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is also Jewish-American, told Newsmax last Friday.

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and other progressives condemned recent anti-semitic attacks in Friday social media posts. In this photo, Sanders speaks in support of the unionization of an Amazon fulfillment center outside the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in Birmingham, Alabama on March 26 PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Critics of the Israeli government and military contend that their opposition is not antisemitic, saying there is a distinction between hatred of Jews—who may or may not be Israelis—and raising critiques of a government and its military's actions. A number of progressive and orthodox Jewish American groups regularly lead protests against the Israeli government, condemning its treatment of the Palestinians.

Newsweek reached out to Sanders' press office for further comment.