On Monday, the only Jewish candidate in the Democratic presidential race stood in front of an audience of Jews in Washington, D.C., and suggested cutting U.S. aid to Israel.
And they applauded him.
“I would use the leverage, $3.8 billion is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government or for that matter to any government at all,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said at the annual convention of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group.
It isn’t the first time Sanders has discussed deploying foreign aid as “leverage” over the Jewish state. Back in the fall of 2017, in an interview with me for The Intercept, the Vermont senator described the United States as “complicit” in the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and said he would consider voting to reduce U.S. aid to Israel.
At J Street, however, he went much further. “What is going on in Gaza right now is absolutely inhumane, it is unacceptable, it is unsustainable,” the Democratic presidential candidate told his interviewers, Pod Save the World hosts — and former Obama aides — Tommy Vietor and Ben Rhodes. “My solution is to say to Israel: You get $3.8 billion every year. If you want military aid, you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza.”