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April 7, 2016 4:25 pm

Major Jewish Organizations Decry Bernie Sanders’ ‘Wildly Inaccurate’ Claim That ‘Over 10,000 Innocent People Killed in Gaza’; Candidate Disputes Account

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, during a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Daily News. Photo: Screenshot.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, during a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Daily News. Photo: Screenshot.

American Jewish leaders decried an allegation about Israel made by Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders during a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Daily News last Friday.

Responding to Sanders’ “recollection” that “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza” – during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas in the summer of 2014 — when “a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled” and “hospitals… bombed,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) and B’nai B’rith told The Algemeiner on Thursday why they were so incensed.

“The road to Senator Sanders’ repetition of this outrageous slander started with Hamas lies and the failure of an intimidated media in Gaza to do little but publish the original blood libel in their dispatches and mouth them on air,” SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said. “But that is no excuse for a veteran senator, running for the presidency of the United States, who always had access to the real story. Secondly, his narrative doesn’t include the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza, and Hamas’ ongoing strategy of using its civilian infrastructure as a shield against Israel.”

Cooper was referring to the terrorist organization’s inflated death-toll numbers, and its use of populated apartment buildings, hospitals and even UN-run schools as bases for weapons caches and rocket-launching pads – both to prevent Israel from attacking the sites and to incur civilian casualties to present as statistics for foreign consumption.

He called on Sanders — who also told the Daily News, “I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been” — to “immediately acknowledge that he made a huge error and apologize to the people of Israel.”

B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was equally harsh in his criticism of the candidate.

“It appears that Sanders has accepted the Palestinian narrative on the Gaza war whole cloth,” he told The Algemeiner. “But let’s not even start with the wild inaccuracy of his number. Let’s talk about the fact that he didn’t even mention Hamas’ use of the population it rules in Gaza as human shields in those hospitals and apartment buildings he was referring to. Nor did he point out that Israel sent unprecedented warnings to the civilian population in Gaza to evacuate areas it was going to target, by dropping leaflets, sending emails and making phone calls – a practice unique to Israel during wartime.”

By failing to provide the context, Mariaschin said, Sanders was presenting the Hamas narrative, something that is “unacceptable.”

“We have had enough problems on this score without presidential candidates engaging in discourse that is full of wild inaccuracies on what happened during Operation Protective Edge. He should have educated himself before speaking about it, and it is now important that he do so for the future.”

Sanders, he said, “should issue not only a correction, but an apology.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also blasted Sanders for his “misstatements regarding the 2014 conflict between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.”

In a statement released on Thursday, ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt asserted: “Even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders. As Mr. Sanders publicly discusses his approach to key US foreign policy priorities, including Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for US credibility in the international community.”

Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs on Thursday responded to the ADL’s request for clarification about his Gaza statements by claiming,”There is no candidate for president who will be a stronger supporter of Israel’s right to exist in freedom, peace and security,” and then going on the offensive. “As we go forward in this campaign, distorting the truth is not useful,” Briggs wrote. “We hope there can be an honest discussion of this important issue.”

He continued by providing his own account of the statements:

During a recent New York Daily News editorial board interview, Sanders was asked about the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. “Help me out here because I don’t remember the figures,” he said before saying his recollection was that 10,000 Palestinians were killed. He then immediately added, “Does that sound right?” The interviewer did a quick search and found that, in fact, more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and 10,000 were wounded. The United Nations has estimated that 2,104 were killed, including 1,462 civilians. Understanding that his recollection was about the total number of casualties, not the death toll, the senator immediately accepted that correction and the discussion moved on to other topics.

The idea that Sen. Sanders stated definitely that 10,000 Palestinians were killed is just not accurate and a distortion of that discussion. Bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be easy. It would help if candidates’ positions on this issue are not distorted.

The 50-day Hamas war against Israel left 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians dead; there were a total of 842 Israeli casualties during the conflict. On the other side, UN and Palestinian sources claimed that some 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza were killed, of whom 72 to 84 percent were civilians. There are strong reasons to contest these Palestinian figures and argue that the percentage of Gazan civilian casualties was fewer than 50 percent. On December 1, 2014, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported on its detailed, name-by-name analysis of 1,598 Palestinian fatalities in Operation Protective Edge that amounted to 75 percent of those who were killed. Of the fatalities who could be identified, about 45 percent were non-combatants, while 55 percent were combatants – nowhere near the levels of civilian losses that were discussed in the media.


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  • NCS

    Sanders is an anti-Semite…pure and simple.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Unfortunately all the so called “Jewish organizations” are absolutely worthless as evidenced by the amount of anti-Jewish behavior allowed to flourish.

    However, I have excommunicated Bernie Sanders from Judaism and as we did to Spinoza which I greatly objected to, Bernie Sanders is no longer part of the Jewish people.

    He can do whatever he wants as he lives but that’s all.

    Everyone should send him a sympathy card on his loss.

    • Frosty7530

      I am glad to see Sanders finally getting reprimanded by major Jewish organizations. Also glad to see brave, like-minded souls who also feel that Bernie Sanders is an anti-Semitic Jew. Sadly, anti-Zionist Jews are nothing new, they existed back in the 1940’s to try to halt the Jewish State from being born. Interesting to note, that Sanders is reported to get his “advice” on Israel from J Street, a “Jewish” group very friendly to Palestinians. Sanders is a terrible role model for young American Jews who in their naivety, find him respectable, his presence in this campaign is very dark.

  • Joseph Rosen

    I think that his age is the explanation for this mistake.
    Can not be a policy interpretation…

    • Margalit Fliegelmann

      I hope for America’s sake that Sanders does not become anything in the next administration as he clearly does not understand or know anything about foreign policy.

    • Roger

      Joseph, nice try! Unacceptable…for a candidate for the presidency Sanders should know the facts before making statements like he did. Age is not the issue here. If so he should go home now!

      • Yale

        I read the entire interview and age does seem to be part of the problem. He got a lot of his details wrong and came across as the sort of old man one might sit down and talk to on a park bench, largely out of sympathy for him. That such a person might become president is almost as disturbing as the notion of Donald Trump getting there.

  • Zucker

    It’s not surprising from Bernie to make errors to the disanvantage of Israel ….he is an unwitting victim of the continuous campaign against the “zionist forces” and the “occupation”.
    A senator could eventually take time to get it straight but a presidential candidate should not have to back track.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    It’s not ‘wildly inaccurate’ it’s a lie.

  • Chaplain Michael J. Oney

    Bernie Sanders will say anything to win an election whether true or not. He doesn’t understand the plight of our Jewish family in Israel and seemingly doesn’t care.
    Bernie needs to take a trip to Israel and see what has really taken place instead of spreading false things said about an Israel he apparently knows nothing about.
    When Bernie comes against Israel for things they haven’t done he comes against God.

  • Tim Jensen

    Excellent article by Ms. Blum.

    Mr. Sanders is a good man, with grand enthusiasm. Sometimes he gets ahead of himself with the factual data.

    Thanks for opportunity to comment.

  • DockyWocky

    The only trouble is these same Jewish organizations will end up voting for Bernie or Hillary.

    Most likely, Hillary.

  • Yadja

    This goes to show how ignorant this old Socialist, who has some nerve running for president under the Democrat Party in a Republic that is America. The last uprising by Hamas perpetrated on Israel brought International Human Rights group to the UN filing charges against Hamas for murdering and torturing Gazans to blame Israel. The Gazan people themselves filed charges against Hamas for the same thing and Hamas shot 20 Gazans who tried to escape.

    It is known from the last war that Hamas won’t let the people go to shelters and they won’t let them leave Gaza. It is not Israel who starts trouble but Hamas and this old man is playing into the hate filled people in America, now filled with Muslims who are joining Black Lives Matter to cause problems at our presidential campaigning sites along with illegal Hispanics who are doing the same thing. America has millions of illegal Hispanics who should be in Detention Centers instead are free to roam our country, live in Sanctuary cities and get money and goodies off the American tax payers along with the refugees who Obama brings by the hundreds of thousands a year from the worst countries in the world. This is the new Democrats and this is what this old walrus is playing up to.

    America is in shambles from seven years of a Progressive/Socialist Obama who is also a Muslim sympathizer for the worst of the worst and many believe, from the comments Obama has made about Christians then praising Muslims and Allah that he is a Muslim.

    Pray for America.

    • gideon

      Mr’ sonders memory suffers sclerosis. He can’t remember tem years of gaza bbing israel civilians without responding by idf
      More then that he knous very good that has used arab civilian.s as human shelter. If he dont know those facts he is not suitable to be elected to presidency.

  • Jesse Joseph

    Bernie almost all the time seems to be anti Israel so what else is new?

  • Lia

    Dearest God, please protect Israel against this cognitively disconnected senator?

  • Bernie Sanders is the epitome of a missguided leftist, socialist who would have been in the forefront of the Bolchevik Revolution in 1917.
    There are more horses asses in this world than there are horses.

  • Golum…

    I would appreciate it if we can get Bernie’s statement correct….our family vote depends on it!!!
    I will NOT vote again for a candidate that is NOT wholly Pro Israel!!!

  • With his appalling statement, Sanders has joined the ranks of the antisemitic Jews who like nothing better than to vilify Israel, to make themselves look good to the masses of Jew-haters who attack the Jewish state as the easy way of attacking Jews. He is utterly disgusting.

  • I suppose Sanders knows more about collateral damage than Colonel Richard Kemp who categorically has repeated ad nauseam that the IDF does (and has done) more than any other army, in the history of military conflict, to avoid civilian casualties more often than not to the detriment of the safety of its own soldiers and Israeli civilians.

  • Mickey Oberman


    Where are they.
    Why do you keep them hidden?
    What are you afraid of.

    This is one of the very best English language publications but your policy of not showing all the comments greatly mars your quality.

    Mickey Oberman

  • Mickey Oberman

    Where are they?

  • Peter Joffe

    Perhaps Mr Sanders it would be better for you to stop terrorism instead of beating up those who are trying to protect themselves. Whatever the losses may have been it was the terrorists who are responsible. Obama blames the victims and now we have another presidential hopeful that is better suited to running a kindergarten. We all know that terrorists care nothing for using schools, hospitals and buildings of the UN itself. What will you do “Bernie” when New York City gets rained on by 10,000 missiles from say ISIS in Philadelphia. Will you lodge a complaint at the UN and be very careful not to call terrorists, ‘terrorists’ and suggest a way to a homeland for them. Yes you may do this so I think that you should step aside and let someone who can see evil for what it is to run for President. We have one Jihadi in the White House “Islam House” so we do not need another one. Bury your head back in the sand please. An ostrich is a very wise creature as it has a long neck upon which sits its head and it can see far and wide. But when trouble comes it sticks its head under the sand and leaves the piece that is sticking up in the air to make all the decisions.

  • Senator Sanders should heed the words of Bernard Baruch, “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.” And the biggest threat to American-Israeli relations would be another President Clinton in 2017.

  • John Train

    There is no soft way to say this. BERNIE SANDERS LIED. He repeated the same lies at some of his rallies as the videotapes clearly show.

    Sanders knew he was lying since he was briefed on the accurate casualties.

    The Jewish agencies pussy footed. Sanders should be condemned… Calling on him to correct his misstatements and issue an apology is a very weak measure.

    Shader’s campaign response is artful deception. The tapes are very clear…there was no confusion. His PR people should be fired.

    This is another example of why Sanders is unfit for the presidency.

  • Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz

    There is no excuse for anybody to accept Hamas lies but for a Jew it disqualifies him from ever getting my vote. The statement is an infamy coming from a Jew. Hes as bad as Sidney Blumenthals son Jews for Palestinians or Jews for Jesus.

  • stevenl

    A typical IGNORAMUS and a socialist antisemite (an oxymoron)!

  • My high esteem for the author, Ruthie Blum, far exceeds what I could write here. She speaks truth in kindness.

    To me, having supported Israel for 51 years as an Evangelical Pastor – without missionary intentions, the American Jewish voter is like a woman in an abused marriage. She needs to get out, but something keeps her in. The American Jewish people espouse the same social, fiscal, and moral standards as Conservatives and yet they vote Democrat – the party that eliminated the words “G-d” and “Jerusalem” from its platform in 2012.

    Abused, threatened, bullied, and abandoned by an adulterous political party that expends its resources and attention on Iranian terrorists and “Palestinian” terrorists, while ignoring the Balfour Declaration.

    To the American Evangelical voter, the American Jewish voter is desperately in need of professional counseling. We love and respect you. We will support you no matter what next Anti-Semitic steps the Democrats take against you. However, we still think you need help.
    Our attitude has been, is, and always will be “It pleased the Lord to bless Israel” Numbers 24:1

    Mr. Sanders will NOT support Israel – regardless of his words. He would push for a Palestinian State with Israel withdrawing to pre-1967 War borders – just like PUTZUS did ! Shameful really.

  • anon

    Has it occurred to anyone that if we get money out of politics, no one may continue to court the Jews, AIPAC, etc.? Even though Jews vote, their numbers are insignificant. They’re only courted for their money.

    • Goldstein

      TO ANON:
      Wrong…..Jews are courted because a higher percentage of them consistently come out to vote than other groups….which makes them a force beyond their actual numbers!…and of course the Jews can be counted on for contributions too!

  • Ephraim

    I am incredibly disappointed with Sanders for these statements. It is nothing less than the famous “Hymietown” statement of Jackson in 1988. All candidates make mistakes and Bernie is universally acknowledged to be weak on foreign policy. But to take a WAG that is so incredibly false, to spout a libel as if it were ‘on or close to the truth’, shows a very deep flaw, and I no longer support him. The fact that it was such an admitted casual remark makes it all the worse. He could just as easily have guessed that no one was killed in the war. It would have been as accurate as his statement, but would have shown less intrinsic bias against Israel.

    He obviously cannot be trusted to be the US leader, and any last faint hope I had for my supporting a Democrat this year has disappeared completely. The Senate’s crime last year essentially expelled me from the party, but I had hoped that Sanders was not in the Hillary/politically-coerced censorship ring of antisemitism. I was wrong.

  • I suppose Sanders is better qualified than colonel Richard Kemp to comment on Israeli army action to prevent civilian casualties

  • barry

    Crazy burn-e. He should take chomsky as his foreign affairs adviser. Unless hilly already did. Maybe baker was right. Jews dont vote republican. But the dems are screwing Jews even more. Thank god for Christian Evangelicals.

  • duPont

    Bernie Sanders is only a Jew when it suits him. His ignorance is a sign of his disinterest in Jewish affairs and he should be gagged. His errors should be loudly proclaimed as his disqualification to be President because I don’t need another Mahmoud Abbass or Hamas member to sully the Israelis for me. I wouldn’t vote for Sanders even if he won the nomination. He is ignorant and declasse.

  • Judy Silver-Shapiro

    bernie sanders like barack HUSSEIN obama is an ANTI ISRAEL-ANTI SEMITE. His closest ‘advisers’ on ISRAEL are J Street and james zogby, the same ISRAEL-HATING entities that advise this sitting most hostile-to-ISRAEL (and JEWs) US Pres in history.

  • Mickey Oberman

    Sanders is just another disgusting self hating Kapo.

  • Marco Redeolf

    The truth doesn’t matter to the left and the left and the Democrat Party are one and the same. Yet my fellow Jews continue to vote Democract. It is as if it is written somewhere that a Jew must be a liberal noodnik or else. Truth be told our evangelical brothers are the bedrock of support for Israel not New York Jews

  • This is how Progressives appeal to their base. Two weeks ago you would have seen “Students for Justice in Palestine” members standing in the front row, behind Sanders at one of his events. Put two and two together, Israelis.

  • Malka Berklley

    If Bernie Sanders is not a friend of Israel, he will lose my vote. First. he has to apologize for his mistakes and then he has to affirm his interest in keeping Israel safe guaranteeing their continued support from the US/

  • Hillel

    More “pskidne yiden” like this one is needed. He wants to out do Obama, probably the greatest jew hater since the peanut farmer carter and perhaos out gun clinton in her bile.

  • dante

    sanders is by nature a yevsektsia Jew…someone from a Jewish family whose only connection to the Jews is his hostility and his relentless torment of Judaism, Israel and the Jewish community.

    sanders is a disreputable old coot, who, if he were not taken seriously by some many dolts, could easily be dismissed as someone’s crazy communist uncle, babbling in unguarded moments about the “great ussr,” “comrade stalin’s genius,” and the achievements of the “workers’ paradise.”

    sanders is a drooler, an intellectual knuckle-dragger, a trog, a moral bottom feeder.

  • Max Genghis Cohen

    Earth to Simon Wiesenthal Center
    GENTLEMEN: By now, it should not come as a shock, but Bernie Sanders is a long-practised Commie, starting his activist career as a red-diaper baby and growing up learning his craft among the radicals of Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Since most of the earnest scholars of the SWC are, most probably, innocent of the knowledge of the cardinal principle of the Communist world-wide conspiracy, such knowledge will be furnished here in order that your sensibilities are properly undergirded to cope with the likes of said Sanders. TRUTH IS WHAT THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE DECLARES IT TO BE. So, when Bernie Sanders rose to Commissar of the STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE during the 1960’s, he assumed responsibility to integrate private housing regardless of the desires of rent paying tenants–with or without student violence. If B/S becomes the POTUS, all hope is lost.

  • Bruce Rubin

    What this tells me is Bernie is not really running for President. For years, Ron Paul would collect the angry Republican vote then at the convention they would take his delegates. I have suspected both Bernie and Trump were really insiders pretending to be outsiders to keep third parties out of the picture. Hamas is solely responsible and it is time the UN is ended. When a governing body uses its entire population as a human shield without consequences at the UN it is useless.

  • It was clear from previous statements he had made about the conflict that he was being much too accepting of the narratives provided by anti-Israel ideologues who have very little credibility.

    Jews understand the importance of respect for educated opinion and for evenhandedness. They try to obtain their information from impartial experts so that they can arrive at the truth. On the other hand, the main goal of ideologues is to validate the ideological idol they worship.

    When people ascribe too much credibility to unreliable sources, one naturally wonders whether they are people who tend to listen mainly to what they want to hear.