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Bernie’s Israel-Bashing: How Symptomatic Is It?

It’s a strange spectacle from the vantage here in Israel: of the five remaining U.S. presidential candidates, one, lately, has been bashing Israel—and it’s the only one of the five who’s Jewish.

Bernie Sanders’s “recollection” that “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza” during the summer 2014 war was, as many have noted, five times beyond Hamas’s claims. Sanders then changed it to “the number was I think 2100”—which is actually the figure that the UN, not known as a pro-Israel body, came up with, and even the UN said about one-third of that total were terrorists.

For the record, Israel’s Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center carried out a name-by-name analysis of the 75% of the Gaza fatalities who could be identified, and found that, of those, 55% were combatants. (Here former U.S. Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey says that Israel went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in Gaza.)

Sanders’s astonishing ignorance—he’s been a U.S. senator since 2007—was further revealed when, asked what he thought of Michael Oren’s criticism of his inflated Gaza figures, he answered, “Who is Mr. Oren?” Oren is, of course, the former high-profile Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (2009-2013) and author of the bestselling book Ally on the Obama administration’s hostility toward Israel.

But Sanders’s ignorance is not just a personal foible. When it comes to Israeli issues, Sanders is an ideologue. He parrots the standard ideological line of people who do not know what they’re talking about and don’t feel they need to know what they’re talking about, since the ideology comes prepackaged. Trying to add nuance, Sanders said Israel “has a 100%...right to live in freedom,” then added: “we will not succeed to ever bring peace into that region unless we also treat the Palestinians with dignity and respect.”