Bernie Sanders said he was offended after a radio host assumed he holds dual citizenship with Israel. In an interview on the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm Show, based in Washington D.C., NPR host Diane Rehm told the presidential hopeful and U.S. senator Wednesday that her team got the citizenship information from “a list.”
“Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel,” Rehm said at the beginning of the exchange.
“No, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel," Sanders responded. "I’m an American -- I don’t know where that question came from.” He also added, “I’m an American citizen. I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I'm an American citizen, period.”
Sanders said that his father came to the United States from Poland with nothing in his pockets, not even a nickel. His father loved the United States, the Vermont senator said. “You know, I got offended a little bit by that comment, and I know it’s been on the internet,” Sanders said. “I am obviously an American citizen, and I do not have any dual citizenship.”
Online news outlets such as the Jewish Journal have since tracked down a possible copy of the "list" that Rehm was referring to. The list is comprised of dozens of current and former lawmakers, and a “#israelwarcrime” graphic next to the name of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
In a statement provided to Politico after the show, Rehm indicated that the source was actually a Facebook comment. Rehm was apologetic for the way she began her question, but said she was happy to be a part of the dialogue that “put this rumor to rest.”
“In today's show I made a mistake," Rehm said. "Rather than asking senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders whether he had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, as I had read in a comment on Facebook, I stated it as fact. He corrected me, saying he did not know where the question came from. I apologized immediately."
A statement from a Sanders spokesperson afterwards said, “Diane Rehm is an excellent radio host. There’s a great, big Internet out there with lots of good and bad information.”
Sanders is a long shot to beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination next spring. Sanders is an independent but has caucused with Democrats in the Senate.