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PictureNPR host Diane Rehm

Sets Dangerous Standard

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:

NPR host Diane Rehm’s intense, offensive questioning of Jewish Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about whether he is also an Israeli citizen reinforces tropes that Jews are first and foremost loyal to Israel.

On her June 10 program, Rehm stated: “Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.”

A startled Sanders emphatically stated he is an American citizen and does not hold Israeli citizenship, but Rehm pressed the matter again.

In a statement after the program, 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.”

But this goes well beyond poor journalistic judgment. We’ve seen this dual loyalty issue come up again and again.  

At the University of California, Los Angeles, in March, a Jewish student applying to be on the university’s judicial board, was grilled about her assumed lack of objectivity due to her religion. A member of the Undergraduate Students Association Council asked Rachel Beyda during her confirmation proceedings, “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”

Whether stated on a college campus or a national radio program, this line of questioning is a frightening slippery slope of reasoning and accusation.

Unfortunately, not only are we not beyond questions about dual loyalties, this line of thought seems to be growing.