Does pro-Israel crowd ‘feel the Bern’? Sanders cites J Street, Zogby as advisers

As his campaign has gained momentum by focusing largely on domestic issues, the Brooklyn-born son of Jewish immigrants from Poland has been coy about his views on foreign affairs.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
February 8, 2016 01:43
2 minute read.
Democratic US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders shakes hands with supporters during a rally

Democratic US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders shakes hands with supporters during a rally in New Hampshire. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator whose insurgent campaign has come from virtually nowhere and is now poised to threaten what seemed to be former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s clear path to the Democratic nomination, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that he has sought foreign policy advice from officials whose views are antithetical to those of the current government in Israel.

As his campaign has gained momentum by focusing largely on domestic issues, the Brooklyn-born son of Jewish immigrants from Poland has been coy about his views on foreign affairs, an area with which observers say he is evidently less comfortable.

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When asked on Meet the Press to name individuals whom he would appointing as secretary of state or defense, Sanders said: “"I will tell you that we have met recently with people like Larry Korb, who actually worked in the Reagan administration.”

"We've talked to people like Jim Zogby, talked to the people on J Street to get a broad perspective of the Middle East,” the Vermont senator said.

Korb, who served as assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan’s Pentagon chief, Caspar Weinberger, is currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

He has become known in Israel as being a vocal advocate for clemency for Jonathan Pollard during his incarceration. Pollard, the former US Navy analyst, was released from prison and is currently on parole after serving 30 years in prison for passing classified information to Israel.

James Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute.



J Street is an organization that describes itself as a liberal, pro-Zionist lobby which has supported a Palestinian state and encouraged active US involvement in bringing about a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Both J Street and Zogby have not been shy of criticizing Israel for its policies in the Palestinian territories.

Last year, Sanders was asked by Vox, an online magazine, if he identified himself as a Zionist.

“A Zionist? What does that mean?” the senator replied. “Want to define what the word is? Do I think Israel has the right to exist? Yeah, I do. Do I believe that the United States should be playing an even-handed role in terms of its dealings with the Palestinian community in Israel? Absolutely I do.”

“Again, I think that you have volatile regions in the world, the Middle East is one of them, and the United States has got to work with other countries around the world to fight for Israel’s security and existence at the same time as we fight for a Palestinian state where the people in that country can enjoy a decent standard of living, which is certainly not the case right now. My long-term hope is that instead of pouring so much military aid into Israel, into Egypt, we can provide more economic aid to help improve the standard of living of the people in that area.”

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