Jewish groups condemn Nazi flag display at Sanders rally


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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Associated Press (AP) — The display of a Nazi flag by a man at a Bernie Sanders campaign rally in Arizona drew condemnation from Jewish American groups on Friday amid ongoing worries about Democratic candidates’ security at public events.

Images of a flag depicting the Nazi swastika symbol that was briefly displayed at Sanders’ Thursday night rally in Phoenix began circulating online after the incident. The moment also elicited warnings about anti-Semitism directed at the Jewish Sanders, who has talked about members of his father’s family being “wiped out” by the Holocaust.

“Good people, regardless of how they vote, should call this out in no uncertain terms,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in an interview, adding that “I worry we’ll see more of this” given the anti-Semitism that emerged, particularly online, during the 2016 campaign.

The American Jewish Committee tweeted in response to reports of the Sanders rally display that “Nazi flags are symbols of pure hate and have no place anywhere in America, much less in a rally for a Jewish presidential candidate.”

The Anti-Defamation League on Friday identified a white supremacist with a history of anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic harassment as the perpetrator of the incident, citing a social media post in which the man takes credit for the display.

“The senator is aware of the flag with the swastika on it and is disturbed by it,” Sanders spokesman Mike Casca said by email on Friday.

Sanders’ chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden, said on Thursday that he might consider requesting Secret Service protection following a close brush with anti-dairy industry protesters who rushed the stage where he was speaking on Tuesday night.

Among those castigating the Nazi display were groups that have previously criticized Sanders, for remarks by campaign surrogates and his shows of opposition to Israeli government policies.

Greenblatt said that “while I will call out those people in Sanders’ campaign who I think are outside the norm, that doesn’t preclude me from stating unequivocally that anti-Semitism directed at anyone … is about intimidation, about harassment — it simply has no place in politics.”

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