- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A spokeswoman for Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ 2020 presidential campaign apologized Tuesday for a Facebook comment that many deemed anti-Semitic.

Belén Sisa, Mr. Sanders‘ national deputy press secretary, came under fire this week after she questioned whether American Jews hold a “dual allegiance” to the state of Israel.

The argument that Jews have a “dual allegiance” or “dual loyalty” to Israel has been widely condemned as an anti-Semitic slur. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Democrat, most recently faced a backlash from her own party for repeatedly questioning the loyalty of Israel-supporting politicians.

Mr. Sanders, who is Jewish, has been one of Ms. Omar’s most outspoken supporters. In her post Sunday, Ms. Sisa said she stood with Mr. Sanders in his support of the congresswoman.

“This is a serious question: do you not think that the American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel?” Ms. Sisa asked in her post, Politico reported. “I’m asking not to rule out the history of this issue, but in the context in which this was said by Ilhan.”

Ms. Sisa deleted the post after Politico started questioning her about it, the outlet reported.

Asked in the same thread whether she believed Mr. Sanders held a dual loyalty to Israel, Ms. Sisa responded: “I think I would probably have to ask him? But his comments make me believe other wise [sic] as he has been very blunt on where he stands,” Politico reported.

After she deleted the initial question, Ms. Sisa, an undocumented immigrant protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, appeared to compare the dual-loyalty trope to the Trump administration’s treatment of “Mexican immigrants.”

“I deleted my previous question, because I don’t think it truly represents the question I was asking or what I was meaning to say,” she wrote. “I think the injustice of questioning someone’s loyalty because of their culture or where they come from is something that is happening through comments being made about Mexican immigrants and a lot of the immigrant community now.”

In an apology that declined to mention the Jewish community or anti-Semitism, Ms. Sisa told Politico that she now acknowledges the “painful history” of questioning someone’s loyalty.

“In a conversation on Facebook, I used some language that I see now was insensitive. Issues of allegiance and loyalty to one’s country come with painful history,” she said. “At a time when so many communities in our country feel under attack by the president and his allies, I absolutely recognize that we need to address these issues with greater care and sensitivity to their historical resonance, and I’m committed to doing that in the future.”

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