A few weeks back folks sent me links saying that Bernie Sanders, presidential candidate from Vermont via Brooklyn, has dual citizenship with Israel. But the “documentation” for the claim was absurd. Well Diane Rehm, the public radio host, doesn’t think so. She interviewed Senator Sanders yesterday on public radio, WAMU. (Minute 24). They were talking Middle East politics.
Rehm: Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.
Sanders: No, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel! I’m an American. I don’t know where that questioning 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. 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, loved this country. I am, you know, get 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.
Rehm apologized today. TPM:
“On yesterday’s show, I raised the issue of dual citizenship with senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders,” she said. “This is an issue that’s come up over the years in American politics.”
“One of our listeners suggested via Facebook that I ask Sen. Sanders about Internet speculation that he has dual citizenship with Israel,” she went on, “but instead of asking it as a question I stated it as fact, and that was wrong.”
Sanders is obviously attached to Israel in a generational Jewish way. He worked on a kibbutz there on graduating from college 50 years ago, service he seems to diminish in that response to Rehm. He sees Israel as a bulwark against Islamic radicals in the Middle East. BTW, Sanders endorsed the two-state solution in the interview. “I am not a very big fan of Prime Minister Netanyahu.” He did not attend Netanyahu’s horrifying speech to the joint session of Congress.
Laurence Zuckerman tweets:
@Tabletmag casts doubt on @SenSanders denial by saying he once worked on a kibbutz.
Even though he may not have dual American and Israeli citizenship, Sanders did in fact spend time at a Kibbutz in Israel after graduating college, the New York Times magazine reported in 2007 in an article entitled, “The Socialist Senator.”
B’nai Brith is very upset about Diane Rehm’s questioning and says it’s the dual loyalty canard.
NPR host Diane Rehm’s intense, offensive questioning of Jewish Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about whether he is also an Israeli citizen reinforces tropes that Jews are first and foremost loyal to Israel.
On her June 10 program, Rehm stated: “Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.”
A startled Sanders emphatically stated he is an American citizen and does not hold Israeli citizenship, but Rehm pressed the matter again.
In a statement after the program, Rehm said: “”I want to apologize as well to all our listeners for having made an erroneous statement. I am sorry for the mistake. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.”
But this goes well beyond poor journalistic judgment. We’ve seen this dual loyalty issue come up again and again.
I wonder if this canard has taken on a life of its own. Ala the claim that Obama was born in Kenya.