Israel’s Nation-State Law has been cited by US Senator Bernie Sanders in a speech about the rise of authoritarianism around the world. Sanders mentioned the discriminatory law, which has been described as the codification of apartheid, during a major foreign policy speech at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC.
“It’s also hard to imagine,” explained Sanders, “that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have taken a number of steps— including passing the recent ‘Nation-State Law,’ which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, aggressively undermining the longstanding goal of a two-state solution, and ignoring the economic catastrophe in Gaza — if he wasn’t confident that Trump would support him.”
Sanders, who is discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, also rebuked Donald Trump for inspiring “authoritarian leaders around the world.” While admitting that the US President himself was not responsible for the rise of authoritarianism, Sanders claimed that he was inspiring the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman.
According to CNN, the Senator from Vermont said that the Saudi Arabian government is a “country clearly inspired by Trump” and mentioned Riyadh’s distaste for dissent and its war in Yemen. He noted the recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If the reports of his murder are true, he said, there must be an “unequivocal condemnation” by the United States. However, Sanders believes that Bin Salman feels “emboldened” by the Trump administration’s “unquestioning” support.
“All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to gain and hold on to power,” Sanders pointed out. “While this authoritarian trend certainly did not begin with Donald Trump, there’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms.”
Sanders is a vocal critic of the Jewish Nation-State Law and has been requested by members of the Israeli Knesset opposed to it to put pressure on the government to repeal it. He claimed earlier that Netanyahu backed the law because he knew that he had Trump’s support.