“The View” co-host Meghan McCain challenged Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Wednesday for not speaking out against progressive lawmakers who have made anti-Israel statements, singling him out for being “the godfather of the Squad.”
In the past couple of years, a group of progressive U.S. representatives, also known as “The Squad,” has taken heat for controversial comments about the Jewish state. Most recently, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., faced censure for seeming to equate U.S. and Israeli “war crimes” to the actions of jihadist terror groups like Hamas and the Taliban. Omar later said she was not making a “moral comparison” between the two. Still before that, she claimed that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. also appeared to call Israel an “apartheid state” in May amid warring between Israel and Hamas, to which McCain tweeted, “Every SINGLE elected Democrat in congress should have to answer if they agree with Ocasio-Cortez that Israel is an apartheid state.”
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McCain followed through on her challenge on Wednesday, telling Sanders, who is Jewish, that he had a responsibility to condemn such rhetoric because his progressive ideas largely shaped the Squad.
“Sen. Sanders, you are the godfather of the Squad,” McCain told Sanders. “You are hyper-progressive socialist, and you’re talking about social justice before it was cool. But it feels like the Squad today has moved even to the Left of you. How is it for you to stand by everything AOC, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have said and done, particularly when it comes to Israel,” McCain asked.
“I don’t believe that’s what they’re saying. And second of all, it’s not my job to have to defend every member of Congress any more than it is their job to defend every statement that I make,” Sanders replied.
McCain noted that while Sanders has criticized Israeli policies but still supports Israel’s right to exist, he has failed to speak out against anti-Israel rhetoric from many of his supporters and colleagues. McCain wondered whether Sanders agreed that such “extreme anti-Israel rhetoric” has contributed to the rise in attacks against Jewish Americans. Anti-Semitic incidents have surged in the U.S. and Europe in the wake of the deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Sanders said that the attacks are “obviously unacceptable,” but said the U.S. needs an “even-handed” policy on Israel. He hoped that the U.S. could work with other countries to try to “bring Israelis and the Palestinians together to bring about peace in that region.”
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In the midst of the warring in Gaza in May, Sanders tweeted that it may be time to re-examine U.S. military aid to Israel.
Between Sanders’ suggestion and Omar’s radical comments, Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas have suggested that the Democrat Party is not always supportive of the U.S.’s Middle East ally.
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