U.S. presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally at Brooklyn College in New York, US, March 2, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly.

JNS.org – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said that “it is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli government.”

In a piece published on Monday on the left-wing site Jewish Currents, Sanders, who is Jewish, wrote that “that it is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli government” even though it is “true that some criticism of Israel can cross the line into antisemitism, especially when it denies the right of self-determination to Jews, or when it plays into conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish power.”

In the essay, Sanders identifies himself as “a proud Jewish American” whose father escaped antisemitism in Poland, where his remaining family was killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust. He blames President Donald Trump for the rise in antisemitism in the United States, including in October 2018 when 11 Jewish worshippers were shot and killed at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh; as well as in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., where violence between alt-right and counter-protesters resulted in a white nationalist ramming his car into a crowd of people, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring dozens of others.

“This wave of violence is the result of a dangerous political ideology that targets Jews and anyone who does not fit a narrow vision of a whites-only America,” wrote Sanders. “We have to be clear that while antisemitism is a threat to Jews everywhere, it is also a threat to democratic governance itself.”

The senator also remarked that combating antisemitism “is a core value of progressivism,” and therefore, “it’s very troubling to me that we are also seeing accusations of antisemitism used as a cynical political weapon against progressives.”

He did not mention the antisemitism coming from progressives such as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), both of whom have endorsed his presidential candidacy.

Sanders accused Trump of “using false allegations” of antisemitism to make the U.S.-Israel relationship a divisive issue.

Additionally, he pledged to “always call out antisemitism when I see it” and that, if elected president, he would “strengthen both domestic and international efforts to combat this hatred”; “direct the Justice Department to prioritize the fight against white nationalist violence”; appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism “immediately” as opposed to two years, as was the case under Trump until Elan Carr was appointed to the position in February; and “rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council,” which the United States withdrew from in June 2018 over its anti-Israel bias.

Moreover, Sanders called for Israel to end the “occupation” of the Palestinians, in addition to “solidarity” in fighting “the rise of a divisive and destructive form of politics” abroad “in Russia, in India, in Brazil, in Hungary, in Israel and elsewhere.”