Sanders aide apologizes for suggesting Jews have dual loyalty

Campaign aide to Bernie Sanders apologizes for Facebook post in which she suggested that American Jews have a dual loyalty to Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

A campaign aide to Senator Bernie Sanders has apologized for a Facebook post in which she suggested that American Jews have a dual loyalty to Israel, JTA reported Wednesday.

Politico had reported that the aide, Belen Sisa, made the comment as part of a discussion in a Facebook thread in which she said that she supports Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in questioning “the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Sisa, the national deputy press secretary for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, deleted the post after Politico contacted her about it, according to the report.

“In a conversation on Facebook, I used some language that I see now was insensitive. Issues of allegiance and loyalty to one’s country come with painful history,” Sisa was quoted as having said.

“At a time when so many communities in our country feel under attack by the president and his allies, I absolutely recognize that we need to address these issues with greater care and sensitivity to their historical resonance, and I’m committed to doing that in the future,” she added.

Sisa had written in the thread, according to Politico, “This is a serious question: do you not think that the American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel? I’m asking not to rule out the history of this issue, but in the context in which this was said by Ilhan.”

When she was asked by another person, “Do you think Bernie Sanders has dual loyalty?” Sisa replied, “I think I would probably have to ask him? But his comments make me believe otherwise as he has been very blunt on where he stands.”

Omar has come under fire for recent anti-Semitic comments. In one incident, she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

Omar subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.

Last week she caused another uproar when, at a public event, she appeared to refer to domestic support for Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country”.

Following those comments, the House of Representatives passed a broad resolution that called out bigotry of all kinds without directly condemning Omar over her anti-Semitic remarks. The resolution originally condemned anti-Semitism but, following protests from some Democrats, was rewritten and its final draft was expanded to condemn all forms of bigotry.

Sanders, who recently announced his candidacy for President of the United States, also has a history of problematic statements on Israel.

Last April, Sanders criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his policies, saying, "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist... we must say loudly and clearly, that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel."

In June of 2017, Sanders recorded a video message to the Israeli leftist party Meretz, in which he said, “This occupation must end. Peace, real peace, means security not only for every Israeli, but for every Palestinian. It means supporting self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for both peoples.”