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Top Sanders aide invokes nasty anti-Semitic smear on social media — and now she's backtracking


It comes amid anti-Semitic controversy surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Amid national discourse about prominent anti-Semitic sentiments being parroted by far-left politicians, a spokeswoman for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was forced to apologize Tuesday after she recently invoked a classic anti-Semitic trope.

What are the details?

Belén Sisa — an illegal immigrant working for Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign as national deputy press secretary — questioned on Facebook whether "American-Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel," according to Politico.

Accusing American Jews and pro-Israel Americans of having dual loyalty to Israel is an exhausted anti-Semitic accusation, which has seen new light in recent weeks after freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) several times invoked the smear.

According to Politico, Sisa, 25, posed her question during a Facebook discussion in which she declared her support for Omar.

Politico explains:

A Jew from Sisa's home state of Arizona pointed out the history of the "dual allegiance" slur in the Facebook thread — from the hangings of Jews in ancient Persia to the 1492 purge of Jews in Spain to Nazi Germany.

Sisa's response: "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? I'm asking not to rule out the history of this issue, but in the context in which this was said by Ilhan."

Sisa deleted the comment after Politico contacted her for comment.

How did Sisa respond?

After being asked about the suggestion, she told Politico she now recognizes how "insensitive" her comments were.

"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."

Politico and other mainstream media outlets characterized Sisa's equivocation as an apology. However, Sisa never directly apologized for her comments.

Meanwhile, in the Facebook discussion where she invoked the offensive comments, Politico reported that Sisa attempted to pivot the discussion to immigration after she deleted her anti-Semitic suggestion. Sisa is an illegal immigrant from Argentina who is protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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