NPR Repeats False Claim Bernie Sanders is Israeli Citizen, Got it From Facebook
Sanders' far left base tends to be anti-Israel whereas Sanders does not.
NPR's Diane Rehm got a list from her researchers, which misidentified Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-Vt.) as holding Israeli citizenship, and made the assertion in an interview with Sanders before being corrected by him.
Diane Rehm: Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.
Bernie Sanders: Well, no I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I'm an American. I don't know where that question 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.
Rehm: 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.
The Jewish Journal found one list claiming to be of dual U.S.-Israeli citizens in Congress laden with anti-Semitic phrases and graphics. Rehm says she got the claim from a Facebook comment—a stunning lack of reporting effort from any broadcaster, let alone at an outlet that holds itself in as such high regard as NPR. The typical list purporting to be of U.S.-Israeli citizens in Congress usually just lists Jewish members of Congress. Writing in Counterpunch, L. Michael Hager reports his efforts to find data on dual citizens in Congress was fruitless, and that the Congressional Research Service didn't collect such information. Editorializing against the concept of dual citizenship—permitted in the U.S. only since 1967—the Los Angeles Times reports that there is no definitive tally on the number of dual citizens in the U.S., but that such people can be denied sensitive jobs in government.
The accusation that Sanders is a dual citizen stems from the anti-Semitic view that Jews in Congress must be loyal to Israel too, and that this—and not the U.S.'s decades-long relationship with Israel based on that country's long-held status as the only Western-style democracy in the region—was the reason for the apparent disconnect between the pro-Israeli stance of politicians in Washington and the general public. Despite being the darling of a sometimes anti-Semitic and almost always anti-Israeli or "anti-Zionist" far left, Bernie Sanders has been a fairly stalwart supporter of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
It led to a Q&A on Gaza at one town hall that included a woman yelling "fuck Israel" and Sanders telling constituents to "shut up." Sanders' decision to skip Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress reflects more on how Netanyahu's polarized himself in American politics than a shift in Sanders—or any boycotting politician's—general stance. American socialist groups like Socialist Worker have been rejecting Sanders as a socialist, in part for his stance on Israel, for years.
So far, Sanders has focused on economic populism almost exclusively. His campaign launch speech last month had little to say about foreign policy, and even ignored the issue of police violence completely. This despite Sanders having little new to say about economics he hasn't been saying for forty years, when it was the Rockefellers threatening to "take over" America, and that hasn't been disproved over and over since then. He probably has nothing new to say about foreign policy or civil liberties at home either.