Bernie Sanders Accuses Israeli PM Netanyahu of "Ethnic Cleansing" in Gaza Amid College Protests

Sen. Bernie Sanders accuses Israeli PM Netanyahu of "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza, sparking campus protests and debate over U.S. military aid to Israel amid the ongoing conflict.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Bernie Sanders Accuses Israeli PM Netanyahu of "Ethnic Cleansing" in Gaza Amid College Protests

Bernie Sanders Accuses Israeli PM Netanyahu of "Ethnic Cleansing" in Gaza Amid College Protests

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a prominent Jewish progressive, has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza, citing the displacement of 80% of the population. Sanders criticized Netanyahu's claims of a "horrific rise in antisemitism" on U.S. college campuses, calling it an attempt to distract from the "immoral and illegal policies" of his "extremist and racist government."

In a video released on April 28, 2024, Sanders highlighted the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, universities, and schools in Gaza, as well as the killing of over 34,000 Palestinians and wounding of more than 78,000, 70% of whom are women and children. He accused Netanyahu's government of unreasonably blocking humanitarian aid, causing thousands of children to face malnutrition and famine.

Why this matters: The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine has far-reaching implications for regional stability and international relations. Sanders' strong criticism of Netanyahu's policies reflects growing concerns among progressive lawmakers about the U.S. role in the conflict and its impact on human rights.

Sanders' comments come amid ongoing pro-Palestinian protests at U.S. college campuses, including at the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, Columbia University, New York University, Yale University, the University of Texas at Austin, Emory University, and Emerson College. The protests have led to hundreds of arrests, with university administrators using law enforcement, academic suspensions, and expulsions to try to control the demonstrations.

The crackdowns on campus protests have raised concerns about balancing free speech and campus safety, especially in the face of rising antisemitism. Some Jewish students have reported feeling afraid to set foot on campus due to the tensions, which have at times been marred by allegations of antisemitism. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is considering a bill to provide $10 billion in unconditional military aid to Israel, which Sanders has strongly criticized.

As the death toll mounts in the Gaza conflict, opposition to U.S. funding for Israel is growing, with some lawmakers promising to block the proposed aid package. The Biden administration has also bypassed Congress to approve emergency weapons sales to Israel, drawing further criticism from progressive lawmakers like Sanders.

In his video message, Sanders rejected Netanyahu's attempts to deflect criticism by accusing him of antisemitism, stating that it is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli government accountable for its "immoral and illegal war policies." He called on the U.S. to do everything it can to pressure Israel, even as it continues to provide funding and military support.

Key Takeaways

  • Sanders accuses Netanyahu of "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza, citing 80% displacement.
  • Sanders criticizes Netanyahu's claims of rising antisemitism on U.S. campuses.
  • Ongoing pro-Palestinian protests at U.S. colleges, leading to hundreds of arrests.
  • U.S. Congress considers $10B in military aid to Israel, which Sanders opposes.
  • Sanders rejects Netanyahu's accusations of antisemitism, calls for U.S. pressure on Israel.