During the meeting, an audience member commented she felt “really let down by politicians who only represent a Jewish voice that is completely uncritical of Israel.”
The anonymous woman said she belonged to “a generation which understands that opposition to the [Israeli] occupation [of Palestinian territories] is a Jewish moral imperative.”
Sanders made his position clear, saying, "as someone who is proudly Jewish, to be critical of a right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel is not to be antisemitic."
"All that I have ever said about this issue is that U.S. foreign policy should be even-handed. We respect Israel. Israel has every right in the world to live in peace and security, but so do the Palestinian people,” he added.
If given the opportunity, Sanders reiterated his promise to pressure Israel, using U.S. aid, to end the 52-year occupation.
“The United States gives a whole lot of money to Israel … I think we can leverage that money to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel,” he said, comparing it to the U.S. support given to Saudi Arabia’s “corrupt, murderous regime.”
“The fault is not all with Israel, you have very poor and corrupt Palestinian leadership, but what the goal of the United States has got to be is to bring people in the region together, the Palestinians and the Israelis to create a kind of workable peace which works for both parties, not just one,” the Vermont senator told his supporters.