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Answering question on Israel, Bernie Sanders tells townhall hecklers to ‘shut up!’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 24. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(This post has been corrected. On second reference it referred to Sanders as a Democrat. He is an Independent.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has little patience for being heckled.

The self-described “socialist,” often named as a liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton in 2016, fought with constituents over Israel and the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza that escalated into an angry screaming match.

At a town hall meeting in Cabot, Vt. over the weekend,  Sanders began to answer a question about the conflict by saying that Israel had “overreacted,” but that Hamas was firing missiles into Israel from “populated areas,” and later said the militant Palestinian Islamist group did not want Israel to exist.

Several people in the audience began screaming over each other at Sanders.

“Excuse me, shut up!” Sanders yelled. “You don’t have the microphone.”

“You know I don’t want police officers here,” Sanders began to say.

“What, are you going to arrest people?” a constituent challenged.

“No, I’m not going to arrest people, but are you going to allow us to have a discussion?” Sanders shot back.

After some more yelling, Sanders said, voice raised, “I’m trying to answer a question and I do not want to be disturbed.”

And even after that, there was more heckling and some profanity directed Sanders’ way.

Progressives have wanted Sanders to be more forceful in condemning Israel. Before Congress’ August recess, the Senate passed a resolution unanimously reaffirming its support for Israel. Sanders did not object, but he also did not sign on as a co-sponsor. As the Daily Beast writes, Israel puts left-wing politicians like Sanders in a tough spot because their base can be critical of Israel, but not taking a pro-Israel position is politically risky.

Here’s the video of the town hall confrontation:

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.



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Colby Itkowitz · August 20, 2014

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