Democratic presidential contender Sen Bernie Sanders appeared on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show this week to discuss his run for the highest office in the land, and was confronted by misinformation from his host.
Sanders, I-VT, has been making the talk show rounds, and as one might expect from a seasoned politician, hasn’t had much difficulty answering questions.
The NPR host tried to catch Sanders with one of those pesky “gotcha” questions, pressing Sanders about his Israeli citizenship. Problem is, Sanders doesn’t have Israeli citizenship.
Here is the pertinent exchange:
transcript via JewishJournal
Rehm: Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.
Sanders: What, what? No, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American, that’s, I don’t know where that question came from. I am an American citizen and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I’m an American citizen, period.
Rehm: I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list.
Rehm: Forgive me if that is–…
Sanders: That’s some of the nonsense that goes on in the Internet. But that is absolutely not true.
Rehm: Interesting. Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?
Sanders: I honestly don’t know, but I have read that on the Internet. You know, my dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country. I am, you know, I got offended a little bit by that comment, and I know it’s been on the Internet. I am obviously an American citizen, and I do not have any dual citizenship.
How in the world did Rehm come to think that not only Sanders but other members of Congress have Israeli citizenship? Where did she find this list? According to Politifact and The Jewish Journal, it came from an Internet meme featuring a list of congressmen and senators who have dual citizenship with Israel.
A cursory search on Google of “Bernie Sanders Israeli citizenship” shows that his name comes up in the comments section of the “We are all Vittorio Arrigoni” Facebook page. Arrigoni was an Italian pro-Palestinian activist who was kidnapped and murdered by non-Hamas Islamists in Gaza in April 2011. In the comments section of the Facebook page, on May 2 a user posted a list of senators and representatives who “have both Israel and U.S. citizenships.” Sanders is on the list. No source is given because the list is a total fabrication, not to mention created by an anti-Semite and anti-Zionist, which is given away by the fact that it says “Jewish Lobby”, “#israelwarcrime”, “AIPAC: Buying Congress one seat at a time”, “Rothschild”, and features an American flag with a Star of David replacing the 50 stars.
Rehm has since issued an apology.
On yesterday’s show, I raised the issue of dual citizenship with Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. This is an issue that has come up over the years in American politics. One of our listeners suggested via our Facebook page that I ask Senator Sanders about Internet speculation that he has dual citizenship with Israel.
But instead of asking it as a question, I stated it as fact. That was wrong. He does NOT have dual citizenship, and Senator Sanders immediately corrected me. I should have explained to him and to you why I felt this was a relevant question and something he might like to address. I apologize to Senator Sanders and to you for having made an erroneous statement. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.
Rehm has extended an open invitation to all presidential candidates, but if this is the level of professionalism they will be met with, it’s difficult to imagine any of them taking her up on her gracious offer.