Sanders Mulls Removing U.S Embassy From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv

February 26, 2020

5 min read

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner to become the Democrat candidate to run for president in November, stated at the debate on Tuesday that if he wins the national election, he would consider moving the embassy from the capital of Israel in Jerusalem to the city of Tel Aviv.

Moderator Major Garrett first asked Sanders, “What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you’re not, from their perspective, supportive enough of Israel, and specifically, would you move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv?”

“The answer is it’s something we would take into consideration,” Sanders said.

“I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months, but what I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country,” Sanders continued.

“Our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel, but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the Americans. That will come within the context of bringing nations together in the Mideast,” Sanders said.

“Our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel, but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the Americans. That will come within the context of bringing nations together in the Mideast,” Sanders said.

When asked the same question, billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the only other Jewish candidate, disagreed, saying that moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv was not a possibility. 

“You can’t move the embassy back,” Bloomberg said. “We should not have done it without getting something from the Israeli government, but it was done and you’re going to have to leave it there.”

It could be that Bloomberg’s answer was legally accurate. When President Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, he was putting into effect the Jerusalem Embassy Act, a law passed in Congress in 1995. The Act recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city. The Act asserted that every country has a right to designate the capital of its choice and that Israel has designated Jerusalem.  Despite passage, the law allowed the President to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law, and reissue the waiver every six months on “national security” grounds. This was done so until President Trump announced his decision to put the law into effect. It is unclear whether moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv is an option. It may be that in order to do so, a future president would need to repeal the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

“Leave the Israeli borders where they are, try to push them to pull back some of those on the other side of the wall where they built these new communities, which they should not have done,” Bloomberg continued. Sanders interjected, objecting to Bloomberg’s description of Jews living in Judea and Samaria as “communities” rather than “settlements.”

Bloomberg also differentiated himself from Sanders by becoming the first Democrat candidate to announce that he would attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States. 

On Sunday, Sanders said on Twitter that he would not attend the confab, emphasizing that he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” 

When asked by the debate moderator, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren refused to say what her policy would be, answering that the subject should be settled by direct negotiations by the involved parties. She took the opportunity to take a jab at the President.

“Donald Trump’s big mistake is he keeps putting a thumb on the scale of just one side, and that moves the sides further away from working out their own solution,” Warren said.

If he wins the national election, Sanders will become the first president to have been born Jewish, though this does not seem to affect his policies concerning Israel or his personal life.

In 1963, in cooperation with the left-wing socialist anti-religious youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, Sanders and his first wife volunteered at Sha’ar HaAmakim, a kibbutz in northern Israel. His motivation for the trip was as much socialistic as it was Zionistic and has clearly not made Sanders pro-Israel.

Sanders’s second and current wife,  Jane O’Meara Driscoll, is Catholic. In 1988, the day after their wedding, the couple visited the Soviet Union as part of an official delegation in his capacity as mayor. This was at the height of the oppression of Jews in the Soviet Union, a point which did not seem to bother Sanders at the time.

Perhaps the most notable indication of his anti-Israel bias was seen during an interview with the New York Daily News in 2016. Bernie Sanders stated his recollection stands that Israel killed “over 10,000 innocent people” in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblat, issued a statement following the interview’s publication in which he asserted that “even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders.”

Sanders was quoted in the New York Times as saying that military aid to Israel should be “conditioned on Israel taking steps to end the occupation and move toward a peace agreement.” has already established that if elected, he would redirect some U.S. military aid to Israel into humanitarian aid for the Palestinians.It should be noted that untold millions in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians were usurped by the Hamas organization that currently rules Gaza and used for terrorism against Israel.

Sanders also supports the creation of a Palestinian state inside Israel based on the pre-Six-Day War ceasefire lines. In response to President Trump’s announcement that it is not illegal for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, Sanders stated, “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal.”

In 2001, Sanders was the only Jewish member of the House who disagreed with a resolution blaming all of the violence of the Second Intifada on Palestinian terrorism. Sanders was one of 45 representatives in 2004 who voted against a resolution expressing support for Israel’s security fence. Sanders was one of 21 U.S. Senators who did not sign onto a resolution espousing unconditional solidarity with Israel during 2014’s Gaza War.

It is significant that Robert Malley, Sanders’s foreign policy adviser, served as Special Assistant to President Obama. Another foreign policy adviser, Matt Duss, formerly served as the head of the pro-Palestinian Foundation for Middle East Peace. 

Even if Sanders becomes the first Jewish U.S. president, Donald Trump will still be the first and only U.S. president to have Jewish children (Ivanka) and grandchildren. Sanders’s only child, Levi Sanders, was born out of wedlock to Susan Campbell Mott. Mott isn’t Jewish so according to Jewish law, Levi is not Jewish.


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