Sanders cites his Jewish heritage at Islamic Society convention

Citing his Jewish heritage and relatives killed in the Holocaust, Bernie Sanders pushes solidarity at controversial Muslim NGO's convention.

Marcy Oster, JTA ,

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders got a standing ovation at the Islamic Society of North America annual convention in Houston.

Sanders spoke on Saturday to the conventions some 6,000 attendees, the first presidential candidate, along with Julian Castro, to address the gathering, the largest meeting of American Muslims.

“I am here today because I believe in the concept of solidarity, and the need for all of us, no matter where we come from or what our background is, to stand together in the struggle for justice and human rights,” Sanders said.

“We must speak out at hate crimes and violence targeted at the Muslim community and call it what it is: Domestic Terrorism,” he also said.

He brought up his personal history, as the “proud son of Jewish immigrants.”

“As some of you may know, the issue of hatred and prejudice is very personal for me,” he said. He noted that those in his family who remained in Poland after Hitler came to power were murdered by the Nazis.

“And the lesson I learned from that experience is how important it is for all of us to speak out forcefully whenever we see prejudice and discrimination,” he said.

He told his audience that “in the wake of Trump’s Muslim ban, thousands of non-Muslims from all walks of life rushed to airports all across this country to stand in solidarity with Muslims.”

Sanders was introduced by his campaign manager Faiz Shakir, the first Muslim to manage a major presidential campaign.

The Islamic Society of North America was named, along with the Holy Land Foundation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist funding plot, and was linked by the US Justice Department in 2007 to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2013, the Canadian government terminated the registration of Islamic Society's Canadian branch as a charitable organization over its alleged misappropriation of funds and ties to the Jamaat e-Islam movement in Pakistan.