Ex-Rep. Ted Deutch criticizes Sanders remarks on Israel, campus protests

Former Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for his latest remarks on Israel and the pro-Palestinian protests taking over college campuses.

Sanders, the son of Jewish immigrants whose family members died in the Holocaust, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Israel is committing “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza by forcing the relocation of most of its population.

While he did not endorse the use of “genocide” to describe Israel’s actions, he said criticism of the civilian death toll and destruction in Gaza was not “antisemitic.”

“When you make those charges, that is not antisemitic. That is a reality. So, our job is to condemn Hamas, a terrorist organization that started this war — condemn in every form antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bigotry,” Sanders said.

Deutch, who is now the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said Monday on CNN he does not need Sanders “to lecture me about the reality of what’s happening on college campuses.”

“With all due respect to Sen. Bernie Sanders, what’s happening on college campuses right now from so many of these protesters, who are out advocating on behalf of the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered 1,200, is absolutely dangerous,” Deutch told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“It is inconsistent with the very things that Sen. Sanders says that he actually cares about, which is free speech and the ability for everyone’s voice to be heard,” he added.

Pro-Palestinian protests have engulfed college campuses across the country, prompting arrests, student suspensions and cancellations of in-person classes and graduation ceremonies. Deutch suggested Monday that the protests should be condemned, describing some of them as “not peaceful.”

“There’s not another group that will be the target, the focus of this kind of harassment and intimidation, where people would look for some justification for it. It would rightfully be condemned,” Deutch said.

“That’s what we all — including Sen. Sanders — that’s what we all need to do right now about what’s happening on campus, so that the campus can be a place where every student is respected and no students are silenced. Certainly not just because they’re Jews and support Israel,” he added.

The Vermont senator has been outspoken about Israel’s actions in Gaza and has repeatedly opposed more U.S. support for Israel’s war against Hamas.

Speaking Sunday on CNN, Sanders said antisemitism “is a vile and disgusting ideology which has resulted in the deaths of many, many millions of people in the last 100 years” and called on it to be opposed in “every form.”

The Hill has reached out to Sanders’s office for comment.

Many of the protests have been reported as peaceful, but many officials and lawmakers have raised concerns about the safety of Jewish students. A group of Democrats sent a letter Monday to the board of trustees at Columbia University, where the demonstrations started earlier this month, demanding officials put an end to the encampments or resign.

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