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Bernie Sanders calls for normalizing ties with Iran

(JTA) — Bernie Sanders, the Jewish senator vying for the Democratic presidential nod, called for normalizing relations with Iran.

“I think what we’ve got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran,” Sanders said Sunday evening, Jan. 17, during a televised debate with rivals Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley in South Carolina, hosted by NBC. On Saturday, U.N. inspectors certified Iran had rolled back its nuclear program and, in accordance with the nuclear restrictions deal reached last year between Iran and six major powers, including the United States, lifted some sanctions.

Sanders’ call for normalization goes beyond President Barack Obama’s stated agenda, which is

to neutralize Iran’s nuclear threat while continuing to confront its disruptions in the region through separate sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

“Understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with, their support for terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from of their leadership is something that is not acceptable,” Sanders said. Nonetheless, he said, “I think the goal has got to be as we’ve done with Cuba, to move in warm relations with a very powerful and important country in this world,” he said.

Clinton, the former secretary of state who helped shape the deal, praised it, but like Obama, said she still regarded Iran as a rival not meriting normalization. “I think we still have to carefully watch them. We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization. And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreement. And then, we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region, which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.”

Republicans, joined by Israel’s government, still regard the deal as a bad one leaving Iran on the verge of becoming a nuclear weapons state.



Say what you mean, Ted

Some are interpreting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s invocation of “New York values” at Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate as antisemitism. Cruz accused Donald Trump, a New York City native whom he trails in national polls, of having such values during a night of sparring between the two candidates. He had made the accusation repeatedly in the week leading up to the debate. “There are many, many wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and focus on money and the media,” Cruz said to the crowd at the Fox Business Network debate in South Carolina.

Trump came to New York’s defense, citing its response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

“When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” Trump said to applause. “We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers.” Trump is not Jewish, but he does have plenty of Jewish ties, including to his daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Jezebel writer Joanna Rothkopf slammed Cruz’s rhetoric as antisemitic on Friday, comparing him to an “in-house comic at Fuhrer headquarters.” “Babe, just say what you mean: Jewish, black, gay values,” Rothkopf wrote. Many Twitter users agreed with her.




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