This morning, NPR journalist Diane Rehm had Bernie Sanders on her radio show to discuss a number of issues, including his stances social security, abortion, immigration, the Affordable Care Act, and the complicated war in Syria. The episode of The Diane Rehm Show, which was heard via local affiliates across the country, took an abrupt turn about 24 minutes in, when Rehm, 78, asked Sanders, 73, about his dual Israeli citizenship directly after the Democratic presidential hopeful discussed “his nightmare…of perpetual warfare in the Middle East.” Here’s how it went down:
Diane Rehm: Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.
Bernie Sanders: 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.
DR: I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list.
DR: Forgive me if that is—
BS: —that’s some of the nonsense that goes on in the internet. But that is absolutely not true.
DR: Interesting. Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?
BS: 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.
Even though he may not have dual American and Israeli citizenship, Sanders did in fact spend time at a Kibbutz in Israel after graduating college, the New York Times magazine reported in 2007 in an article entitled, “The Socialist Senator.” (Here’s video of Sanders discussing non-Israel-related issues with Rehm, and the full audio here.)
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.