Bernie Sanders seizes pro-Omar lane in 2020

The Vermont senator, the only Jewish candidate in the Democratic primary, embraced the African-American, Muslim congresswoman and called out House Democrats for “stifling” debate about Israel while also warning against equating “anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel.”

No other presidential contender came out as quickly — or as forcefully — as Sanders, who laid down a clear line in the crowded Democratic field between those running as true progressives on foreign policy and those who support an existing U.S. policy that tends to favor Israel over Palestine.

Sanders’ reaction to Omar’s comments — in which she said Israel’s allies “push for allegiance to a foreign country” — served other purposes as well: it helped solidify his hold on the party’s left wing and dovetailed with his intensified outreach to older African-American voters, a critical constituency that failed to warm to him in 2016.