By Dovid Efune
For the third time in under a week, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has exaggerated the number of civilians killed in Israel’s 50-day conflict with terror-group Hamas in Gaza in the summer of 2014.
Confronted in an interview by CNN‘s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Sanders defended his earlier inflated figure of “over 10,000 innocent people” killed in Gaza as an inaccurate recollection in the course of a conversation with The New York Daily Newsthat was quickly corrected after an on-the-spot Google search.
“What I said is, I, am I right on that? I didn’t know what the number was, and the gentleman there… the fellow who was conducting the meeting said let me check it, he looked, Googled it up and the number was I think 2100,” Sanders said. He added that he believes Israel’s use of force in Gaza was “disproportionate.”
In fact, as reported by The Times of Israel, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) puts the Gaza civilian death toll in the 2014 war at 1,423, while Gaza’s terrorist rulers Hamas cite a similar number of 1,462.
The UN numbers themselves are vociferously disputed by Israel-based research groups. An in-depth report, titled “Gazan Casualties: How Many and Who They Were,” published by the Israeli think tank the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs noted in part:
On December 1, 2014, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported on its detailed, name-by-name analysis of 1,598 Palestinian fatalities in Operation Protective Edge that amounted to 75 percent of those who were killed. Of the fatalities who could be identified, about 45 percent were non-combatants, while 55 percent were combatants – nowhere near the levels of civilian losses that were discussed in the media.
Sanders’ initial claim, made on Monday in the now infamous interview with the editorial board of the Daily News, was widely panned by Israeli politicians, as well as major Jewish groups in the United States.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) blasted the Democratic presidential hopeful for his “misstatements regarding the 2014 conflict between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.”
In a statement released on Thursday, ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt asserted: “Even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders. As Mr. Sanders publicly discusses his approach to key US foreign policy priorities, including Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for US credibility in the international community.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called on Sanders to “immediately acknowledge that he made a huge error and apologize to the people of Israel.”
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was equally harsh in his criticism of the candidate.
“It appears that Sanders has accepted the Palestinian narrative on the Gaza war whole cloth,” he told The Algemeiner.
Israel’s former Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, said, “He accused us of a blood libel. He accused us of bombing hospitals. He accused us of killing 10,000 Palestinian civilians. Don’t you think that merits an apology?”
The Sanders campaign swiftly responded with a statement of its own, asserting that the outcry was a product of “distorting the truth,” and that Sanders — unsure of the actual number — had only suggested the figure of 10,000 innocents dead, and he subsequently “immediately accepted” the correction from the Daily Newseditor.
Speaking on MSNBC on Friday morning, however, Sanders again cited an incorrect figure — though far less inflated this time, The Times of Israel reported. Acknowledging that he hadn’t known “the exact number” when he spoke to the Daily News, Sanders said that, “according to the United Nations, over 2,000 civilians were killed” in the war.
Sanders, a longtime Vermont senator, is the first Jewish candidate to win a US presidential primary contest and has spoken proudly of his Jewish identity.
Watch a video of Sanders’ remarks made to CNN on Sunday below (2:50):
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal