Longtime NPR host Diane Rehm asked Bernie Sanders Thursday whether the Vermont senator holds dual Israeli citizenship — apparently based off "a list we have gotten." Rehm later apologized in a statement to Politico.
When Rehm noted as fact that Sanders has the citizenship, he immediately disputed it.
"Well, no I do not have dual citizenship with Israel," Sanders interrupted. "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 noted that she had gotten the information "from a list" but did not specify its origin. Later, in a statement to Politico, she acknowledged having learned it "in a comment on Facebook."
"That's some of the nonsense that goes on in the internet," Sanders said. "But that is absolutely not true."
"Interesting," Rehm replied. "Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?"
"I honestly don't know but I have read that on the internet," Sanders said. "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."
Periodically, lists of Jewish members of Congress or administration officials that supposedly have Israeli dual citizenship appear on the internet — like this one, which bases the citizenship claim on Israel's Law of Return. The Law of Return allows people of Jewish descent from around the world to request Israeli citizenship, it does not confer it on them automatically.
In her statement to Politico, Rehm said "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."
H/T Jewish Journal
This post has been updated to include Rehm's apology.
Katherine Miller is the politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Katherine Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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