The move to end his second bid to become the first Jewish president came in the aftermath of losing most primaries following South Carolina on Feb. 29, when Biden won over Sanders by more than 28 percentage points.
As exemplified in his campaign, Sanders has sought to move the Democratic Party further to the left, including when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Like most of his rivals in the Democratic race, Sanders called for the United States to re-enter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new financial penalties against Tehran.
Sanders repeatedly labeled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “racist” and called for the United States to leverage its annual assistance to Israel, even stating at the annual J Street Conference in October that a portion of it should go towards humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip.
The following month, Sanders wrote on the left-wing site Jewish Currents “that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli government,” even though it is “true that some criticism of Israel can cross the line into antisemitism, especially when it denies the right of self-determination to Jews, or when it plays into conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish power.”
Additionally, Sanders, who was endorsed by the anti-Israel group IfNotNow, skipped the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in March, calling the bipartisan pro-Israel lobby a “platform” for “bigotry”—earning the rebuke of the organization and the Jewish community, including more than 345 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis who signed an open letter about his harsh language targeted at AIPAC.
Finally, Sanders was criticized for having advisers and surrogates associated with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and actions, including campaign manager Faiz Shakir; foreign-policy adviser Matthew Duss; senior adviser Phillip Agnew; Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.); former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour; and comedian and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Professor Amer Zahr.
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