Radio host challenges Jewish presidential hopeful Bernie Sander’s loyalty to America

A National Public Radio host accused Jewish Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in an interview of being a dual US-Israeli citizen, questioning his loyalty to Americans.

Diane Rehm

President Barack Obama awards the 2013 National Humanities Medal to radio host Diane Rehm. (AP)

WAMU radio host Diane Rehm asked Democratic primary candidate Senator Bernie Sanders on National Public Radio (NPR) about his non-existent dual citizenship with Israel in a question reminiscent of the classic anti-Semitic accusation of dual loyalty.

Around 24 minutes into the interview, Rehm prefaced a question with the assertion, “Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.”

Sanders immediately interrupted her, saying, “Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American. I don’t know where that question came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I’m an American citizen, period.”

Rehm indicated that her information came from a list of members of Congress with dual citizenship. She asked the Vermont senator, “Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?”

Sanders replied, “I honestly don’t know but I have read that on the Internet. You know, my dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country. I am, you know, I got offended a little bit by that comment, and I know it’s been on the Internet. I am obviously an American citizen and I do not have any dual citizenship.”

US Israeli flags

(Flash90)

Following the interview, Rehm issued a statement apologizing for shoddy fact-checking, but not for implicitly questioning Sanders’ loyalty to the US. “On today’s show I made a mistake,” she said. “Rather than asking Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders whether he had dual US/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. I want to apologize as well to all our listeners for having made an erroneous statement. I am sorry for the mistake. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.”

The Anti-Defamation League issued its own statement, saying, “Ms. Rehm’s description and follow-up question about whether other senators have dual citizenship with Israel play into classic anti-Semitic charges of dual loyalty…. She shouldn’t have asked the question, period. Had she researched it, she wouldn’t have raised it at all. Because her question challenges not only his loyalty, but also Jewish loyalties to this country.”