US Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters at a rally in Maryland on Saturday that Baltimore’s poverty conditions rival those in North Korea and the West Bank.
“People don’t know this,” Sanders said during a rally at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. “If you are born in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods, your life expectancy is almost 20 years shorter than if you are born in a wealthier neighborhood.
“Fifteen neighborhoods in Baltimore have lower life expectancies than North Korea,” he added. “Two [neighborhoods] have a higher infant mortality rate than the West Bank in Palestine… Baltimore teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19 face poorer health conditions and a worse economic outlook than those in distressed cities in Nigeria, India, China and South Africa.”
The CIA World Factbook website ranks the West Bank at No. 115 out of 224 countries with an infant mortality of babies below the age of 1 at a rate of 13.08 per 1,000 births. Afghanistan tops the list with 115.07 per 1,000 births, and Monaco is last with 1.82.
Sanders drew criticism in the past over his erroneous recollection in a New York Daily News interview of the number of Palestinian civilians killed in the 2014 Gaza conflict. Sanders said he thought the number was 10,000 dead, but the actual UN estimate was 1,423. When someone in the room did a quick search for the official number and offered the corrected figure, Sanders accepted it.
However, speaking on MSNBC on the day after the interview, Sanders again cited an incorrect — though far less inflated — figure. Acknowledging that he hadn’t known “the exact number” when he spoke to the New York Daily News, Sanders said that “according to the United Nations, over 2,000 civilians were killed” in the war, and repeated his allegation that Israel’s military actions were “disproportionate.”
Critics have seized upon the mistake and other Sanders statements — as well as his brief employment of a vociferous critic of Israeli policies as his Jewish outreach manager — as evidence that he subscribes to the opinion that Israel is the primary aggressor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.