Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. (AP/John Minchillo) (AP/John Minchillo)
Bernie Sanders

Sanders’ affiliation with extreme left-wing elements leaves Israelis wary of the prospects of his presidency.   

Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) cited the extreme left-wing Jewish lobby group J Street and the Arab American Institute as his Middle East foreign policy advisers.

“We’ve talked to people like Jim Zogby, talked to the people on J Street to get a broad perspective of the Middle East,” Sanders said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.

J Street and the Arab American Institute, which is headed by James Zogby, have frequently criticized Israel and mainstream pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for their stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While J Street says it has a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” mission, it has been accused of collaborating with anti-Israel groups, such as through event co-sponsorships on college campuses, and is considered a fringe group where politics are concerned.

Sanders has come under fire from his Democratic opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, for his lack of foreign policy experience. Sanders also recently sparked a controversy by calling for the normalization of US relations with Iran, a position that Clinton has opposed and that the Obama administration, despite brokering last summer’s nuclear deal with Iran, has not adopted.

Israelis are wary of the prospects of a Sanders administration, which could prove the Obama administration as exceedingly pro-Israel in comparison, as Sanders’ past expressed views show that he is not a friend of Israel.

Sanders has long been critical of an Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria and Israel’s recent defensive campaigns against Hamas in Gaza, but he has also been vocal about Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks.

“I’d like to see the United States pressing Israel more on the Palestinian issue,” he said in a 1990 interview to Israel’s Ha’aretz.

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff