Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders Reuters

In a major foreign policy speech positing an emerging authoritarian strain around the world, Bernie Sanders blamed the passage of Israel’s Nationality Law on US President Donald Trump, citing it as proof of his corrupting influence eroding democracy.

“It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the right-wing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States,” Sanders said Tuesday in a speech to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices, and grievances to gain and hold on to power.”

Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, presided over a presidential campaign that focused on exploiting people's fears, prejudices, and grievances. He conceded that Trump by himself was not responsible for the rise of authoritarianism.

“While this authoritarian trend certainly did not begin with Donald Trump, there’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms,” said socialist Sanders.

He cited as examples the rise in popularity of a rightist politician in Brazil, Saudi repression, and policies of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“It’s also hard to imagine that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have taken a number of steps— including passing the recent ‘Nation State law,’ which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, aggressively undermining the longstanding goal of a two-state solution, and ignoring the economic catastrophe in Gaza — if Netanyahu wasn’t confident that Trump would support him,” Sanders conjectured.

The Nationality Law passed this summer ratifies Israel’s status as a Jewish State. It discusses national rights, and does not harm any citizen's individual rights or freedoms.

Sanders ran a divisive campaign in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination, although he was ultimately defeated by Hillary Clinton. His resonance with young, inexperienced voters has driven the party to embrace some of his redistributive policies that have failed wherever they have been tried. He has been outspoken in criticizing Israeli policies, while quoting false numbers that exaggerated the Muslim death toll in recent Gaza riots.