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February 19, 2020 11:38 am

Bloomberg Campaign Aide Takes Aim at Sanders Over Ties to Jewish Community, Israel Views

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Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former New York City mayor, speaks at a campaign event at the Aventura Turnery Jewish Center and Tauber Academy Social in Miami, Florida, Jan. 26, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Maria Alejandra Cardona.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg will win the support of American Jewish voters over his rival Bernie Sanders because of his “long-standing ties to the Jewish community” and reputation as an “ardent supporter of Israel,” one of his campaign aides said this week.

Bloomberg aide Mark Botnick was asked about Bloomberg’s electoral appeal to US Jews in an extensive feature on the 2020 election in the Austin, Texas, news outlet, Austin American-Statesman.

When it was pointed out that Sanders was also Jewish, Botnick — who was in Austin for a “Bagels for Bloomberg” outreach event with local Jewish supporters on Tuesday — said he didn’t have close knowledge of the Vermont senator’s positions on Jewish matters.

“You know, I’m not that familiar with Bernie’s record,” Botnick said. “I don’t think he’s got nearly the outreach or the involvement in Jewish life that Mike has. Mike identifies as a Jew and speaks about how it emboldens him to act in a certain way. I haven’t heard Bernie Sanders make that case.”

Last Sunday, Sanders posted a “proud to be Jewish” video on his campaign website.

The divide over Israel between the two heavyweight contenders is clearer, however.

In a Feb. 11 written statement sent to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Bloomberg hailed Israel as “the closest and most reliable U.S. ally in the Middle East,” and pledged to work with its government “in a manner that befits the close relationship between our countries.”

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Nevada on Tuesday night, Sanders took a much more critical stance.

“To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right-wing, racist governments that currently exist in Israel,” he said.

“It cannot just simply be that we’re just pro-Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people,” Sanders added.



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