Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders suggested this week that if Israel wants to ban sitting members of Congress, perhaps it should not receive billions in U.S. military aid.
According to Common Dreams, the Democratic presidential candidate’s remarks were made during an appearance on MSNBC after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were barred from entering the country.
The country has since said Tlaib will be permitted entrance in order to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the occupied West Bank but did not alter its stance on Omar.
"I wish I could tell you...that I am shocked. I am not," Sanders said, discussing President Donald Trump’s support for Netanyahu’s move. "We have a president who, tragically, is a racist, is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot."
He continued: "The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage."
Sanders also said Netanyahu should reconsider accepting the billions of dollars in U.S. aid Israel receives, if he is not keen on allowing members of Congress into the country.
“[I]f Israel doesn't want members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a firsthand look at what's going on—and I've been there many, many times—but if he doesn't want members to visit, maybe [Netanyahu] can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel."
The Vermont senator, who is Jewish, has pushed back against Trump’s claim that criticizing Israel’s policies is tantamount to anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is not some abstract idea to me. It is very personal. It destroyed a good part of my family. I absolutely reject Trump's disgusting efforts to exploit fear of anti-Semitism to attack my colleagues,” he tweeted on Thursday.