The New York Times reported John Prince, 32, asked the blatantly offensive question at the end of the event at the Apollo Theater, after Sanders had explained his Jewish heritage made him more sensitive to racism in the U.S. It did not enjoy a warm reception from the Jewish senator.
"As you know, the Zionist Jews — and I don't mean to offend anybody — they run the Federal Reserve, they run Wall Street, they run every campaign," Prince said, referring to widespread conspiracy theories insinuating Jewish bankers secretly control world commerce.
Sanders responded, "Brother, brother, brother."
"What is your affiliation to your Jewish community?" Prince continued. "That's all I'm asking."
"That's not what you're asking," Sanders shot back. "That's not what you're asking."
"I am proud to be Jewish," the senator continued to a wide outbreak of applause. "... Let me just say this on the issue. ... You're not going to find any candidate running for president, for example, talking about Zionism and the Middle East. I am a strong defender of Israel, but I also believe that we have got to pay attention to the needs of the Palestinian people."
Anti-Semitic theories are not new to Sanders. In 2015, unfounded accusations that Sanders has dual American-Israeli citizenship became widespread, and the senator had to correct the record when the misinformation was brought up by radio host Diane Rehm.
Elsewhere during the event, Sanders attacked former President Bill Clinton for signing welfare reform into law in 1996, the Times reported. The senator said the premise behind the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act "which was a right-wing Republican premise, was that the problem was that all of these poor people were really living high off the hog. There were all these quote unquote welfare queens, remember that? All these poor people just living so well on welfare."