Bernie Sanders: Omar no anti-Semite, but must do ‘better’ speaking to Jews
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Bernie Sanders: Omar no anti-Semite, but must do ‘better’ speaking to Jews

Presidential hopeful rejects claim he’s a staunch supporter of Minnesota Democrat: ‘I’ve talked to Ilhan about twice in my life’

Democratic presidential candidate, US Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent of Vermont) participates in a FOX News Town Hall at SteelStacks on April 15, 2019 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP)
Democratic presidential candidate, US Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent of Vermont) participates in a FOX News Town Hall at SteelStacks on April 15, 2019 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP)

JTA — Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said that he does not consider Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to be an anti-Semite, but that she has to do a “better job in speaking to the Jewish community.”

Sanders participated Monday evening in a televised town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, hosted by Fox News Channel.

However, he distanced himself from Omar, who has angered some Jewish leaders and organizations by repeating anti-Semitic tropes. Sanders refuted moderator Brett Baier’s description of him as a “staunch supporter” of Omar, saying “I’ve talked to Ilhan about twice in my life.”

Sanders, like Omar, has been critical of the Israeli government over its treatment of the Palestinians. He said ahead of last week’s national elections in Israel that he hoped that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would lose the election. That did not happen.

“I will do everything in my power, and I hope that every member of Congress will fight not only anti-Semitism, but racism and anti-Muslim activity so that we create a non-discriminatory society,” Sanders said. “But it is not anti-Semitic to be critical of a right-wing government in Israel. That is not anti-Semitic.”

US Rep Ilhan Omar speaks to support LGBTQ and allied high school students from across the state of Minnesota who marched to the State Capitol steps Thursday, March 21, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP/Jim Mone)

The statement was greeted with applause from the participants in the town hall meeting.

Sanders would be the first Jewish president if he garners the Democratic nomination and wins the 2020 election.

On Monday Sanders released 10 years of tax returns, showing that he is a millionaire. He and his wife earned $566,000 last year.

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