(This article was written while Sanders’ was still vying for the Democratic Presidential nomination, now he is still on the ballot and officially still collecting delegates… we’ll see what happens.)
Bernie Sanders is a symptom. A symptom of the decay that has very obviously set into American public life: and the political life of American Jews. The fact that he has not been condemned by 99% of the Jewish community is evidence, if not proof, of that assertion.
Think about it. Please. A man who is not only a passionate advocate for the most destructive ideology in history, who is, at best, indifferent to Israel, and may actually despise it, and warmly embraces the people who hate us, has (as of this writing) a serious chance of being the nominee of the Democratic party. That speaks volumes about the state of the nation that has been better for Jews than any other in history (Israel excluded).
We should ALL “feel the Bern” – just in a way that is significantly different than what his rabid base of crazed supporters mean when they use that phrase.
Judaism teaches us that a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. If you’re born into the Jewish people (or have a proper conversion), you’re Jewish. Period. So, saying that Bernie “isn’t Jewish,” is inaccurate, Bernie is a Jew, just like you and me. The difference is that he only publicly invokes his Jewishness when it is politically expedient (he only started to claim how proud he is of being a Yid recently) and it consists mostly of “I lived on a Kibbutz 3,000 years ago” and the claim that he had relatives who were murdered in the Shoah. I take him at his word in both cases. None of it changes his status as a Jew. But he is other things as well.
Sanders is a serious Marxist, (if you want to assert that he is really a “democratic socialist,” you’d be wrong, and I will deal with that later).
As far back as 1964, while in college in Chicago, he was part of the Young People’s Socialist League: the youth wing of the American Socialist Party. He also organized for the United Packinghouse Workers Union, believed to be a communist front.
Your humble author was in college in the late 80s and very early 90s, meaning the end of the Cold War, and my degree is in political science. Invoking phrases like “communist front,” and some of the other terms throughout this article, is a blast from the past that I would have very happily left in the past. But it’s important to understand Sanders’ past to understand how he is able to so easily embrace people who hate America and hate Jews even more. Bernie hasn’t changed, the only thing that changed is that there is now a generation of voters who don’t understand why socialism doesn’t lead to a utopian paradise, but to a wasteland of death, destruction and despair. Socialism always fails.
After college, he moved to Vermont and joined the American People’s History Society (purpose: produce and disseminate Marxist propaganda) and made a documentary about famous socialist Eugene Debs (a man so far left that he was despised by Woodrow Wilson, arguably our most progressive president).
Debs was hailed by Soviet communists as “America’s greatest Marxist.” He, in turn, said of the Soviets “Those Russian comrades of ours have made greater sacrifices, have suffered more, and have shed more heroic blood than any like number of men and women anywhere on Earth, they have laid the foundation of the first real democracy that ever drew the breath of life in this world.”
This was the same Soviet Union that placed a large number of our people into the gulags and suppressed, often brutally, the practice of Judaism throughout its existence. There was a reason that over 1.5 million Jews made Aliyah to Israel after 1989.
The Soviet Union was right behind Hitler’s Germany and the Arab nations on the list of countries that created nightmare scenarios for Jews who lived there.
Sanders has a portrait of Debs in his Senate office.
During the 1970s, he continued to engage in pro-Marxist activities making several “goodwill trips” to the Soviet Union as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He also spent quality time with the socialists in Cuba and Nicaragua (he deemed the rise of the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista government a “heroic revolution”).
At the time both were willing proxies in the Soviet quest to expand its sphere of influence and power into Latin America.
To this day Sanders defends Castro (I recommend checking out https://www.dailywire.com/news/sanders-champions-castros-literacy-program-heres-the-brutal-reality if you are curious about the brutal reality of Castro’s “literacy program”). He loves Castro so much that he once stated that watching John F. Kennedy’s tough stance on Fidel Castro made him “want to puke.”
What mayor from an all-American town in New England didn’t make “goodwill” trips to America’s greatest enemies during the cold war? It’s real Norman Rockwell, apple pie, baseball on a summer day stuff.
All of that though is just prelude. The most bizarre of his 80s trips was when Sanders and his second wife honeymooned in…Hawaii? No. Paris? No. Israel??? Ha! Definitely no.
The happy new couple went to party with Sanders’ old buddies back in the USSR. When he came back, he hung a Soviet flag in his office.
O say can you see baby.
(“Fact checking” sites like Snopes claim that this wasn’t his honeymoon, the only problem with that theory is that Sanders labeled it that way himself)
Bernie isn’t a democrat, or even a democratic socialist, he is just a leftist clinging to an utterly failed, and regressive ideology.
But Bernie is just a “Democratic Socialist” who wants us to mirror the success of socialism in Scandinavia, right?
As Fareed Zakaria pointed pit recently, the Scandinavian nations, like Sweden, that Bernie LOVES to tout as socialist paradises, a sentiment the “Bernie Bros” parrot, isn’t based in reality:
“Sanders’s vision of Scandinavian countries, as with much of his ideology, seems to be stuck in the 1960s and 1970s, a period when these countries were indeed pioneers in creating a social market economy… But as Swedish commentator Johan Norberg points out, this experiment in Sanders-style democratic socialism tanked the Swedish economy. Between 1970 and 1995, he notes, Sweden did not create a single net new job in the private sector. In 1991, a free-market prime minister, Carl Bildt, initiated a series of reforms to kick-start the economy. By the mid-2000s, Sweden had cut the size of its government by a third and emerged from its long economic slump.”
Zakaria continued, saying that countries like Denmark now put up no barriers to free trade, and that today not a single country in Northern Europe has a minimum wage. In addition, the public safety net that they do provide is paid for by taxes that are disproportionately paid for by the poor, middle and upper middle class.
In Denmark the top rate is 55.9% that is, in American terms, applied to anyone making over $65k a year. Does any of this sound like the rhetoric that we continually here about “European style” democratic socialism? Bottom line: it is a lie that socialism worked in Scandinavia. While some social programs were successful, the population pays a heavy price, and there is no evidence that any of it would work outside of small, culturally homogenous populations.
Soviet Jewry suffered disproportionately in the Soviet Union and Sanders’ record there is also atrocious. While many people like Dennis Prager, Chabadniks, and many, many other Jews were risking their own lives to help smuggle Jewish items into the USSR, and doing everything possible to get Jews out, what was Bernie doing?
As Jonathan Tobin wrote recently:
“While Jews who cared about the fate of their brethren were demonstrating in the streets about Soviet tyranny and advocating for Prisoners of Zion, Sanders was denouncing American foreign policy aimed at pressuring his Russian friends. When some heroic Jews went to Russian to aid oppressed Jews and other dissidents, Sanders was traveling the world proclaiming his sympathy with Soviet allies and then honeymooning in the Socialist Motherland itself.”
Bernie was doing what Bernie always does, defending brutal totalitarian regimes. Even when the brutal regime was brutalizing his own people.
It is true that American Jews don’t want to be tagged as “one issue” voters. Our vote is about more than where any candidate stands on Israel. However, that must be balanced with the knowledge that Israel is central to Jewish life across the globe. That is particularly true in an era of obvious, relentless, and quickly expanding antisemitism. We need Israel. That is not a political stance: it’s common sense. Anyone even remotely familiar with our history knows that. Most of us know it in our hearts.
Anti-Semites know something else. They know that denigrating Israel weakens the Jewish state, which in turn weakens the Jewish people. That is why there is no meaningful distinction between being anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish. Both are antisemitism. A primary reason for the loathing of a Jewish state is that they hate that the worldwide Jewish population is exponentially safer because of Israel.
Bernie’s attitude and record toward his own people and the Jewish homeland are exactly equally as repugnant as his support and praise of our enemies.
Some (very) recent history:
At the end of February Sanders skipped AIPAC, a truly bipartisan organization (for better or worse). No surprise from a guy who continually boasts that he is “proud to be Jewish,” but has several antisemitic proxies working for his campaign.
It’s worth noting that even the Finance Minister of Azerbaijan, a country with a Muslim Shi’ite majority, attended AIPAC this year. His appearance was a historic first.
The surprise is what Bernie did INSTEAD of attending AIPAC:
He held a rally in Los Angeles where one of the headliners was Chuck D, a very famous, rapper and founding member of legendary Hip-Hop group “Public Enemy.” He is also a staunch supporter of Louis Farrakhan and hates Israel.
Some of Chucky’s greatest hits:
“There’s nothin more antisemitic than Zionism.”
In Gaza “Zionists have adopted Nazi tactics.”
“Zionists use religious terms to distort and cover sh*t.”
Of course the media and left wing music press (important to the Bernie demo) reported it all with the glow always reserved for leftist hipsterati. His vicious antisemitism wasn’t mentioned at all by the press.
Sanders’ own comments about AIPAC were predictably inflammatory and ignorant:
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason, I will not attend their conference.”
Antisemitic horses of a feather.
His entire attitude toward AIPAC was so incredibly negative that, in a rare show of inter-denominational unity, 347 reform, conservative and orthodox rabbis signed a letter condemning his comments. In perhaps his greatest contribution to Jewish life: he united disparate communal groups in a way that is exceedingly rare (unfortunately).
Incredibly, Bernie has not one repulsive “Omar” in his life, but two. Another rally invite went to Imam Omar Suleiman. Suleiman is an anti-Israel, anti-America Islamist. After taking the stage against a backdrop of American flags, he demanded money for Bernie and an “America where we uplift our most vulnerable, (and) celebrate our diversity.”
He’s really into “diversity.” Just not the kind that includes Jewish Zionists.
A few of the imam’s tweets:
“Zionists are the enemy of G-d.”
“G-d willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. ameen #48kMarch #3rdIntifada.”
During Operation Protective Edge: “The people of #Gaza made us proud. You refused to let terror break you and we refuse to let Zionist media silence you.”
Omar also has a long history of supporting Hamas in its quest to drive the Jews “into the sea.” I suspect he may not be sincere when he speaks about “diversity.”
But Bernie is a “proud” Jew. Right? Only if you invert the meaning of “proud.”
Then there is the more famous Omar. I don’t need to review Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s many comments about Jews and Israel. However, she is a key component of the Sanders campaign. Along with another known Israel hater, former Congressman Keith Ellison, Omar is a co-chair of Sander’s Minnesota campaign.
Introducing him at rallies, Omar has been a very visible component in his quest for the presidency.
On the Saturday before Super Tuesday, Bernie referred to Omar as “one of the greatest people I know.” This is the same woman who accused Jews of “hypnotizing” the world, accused us of dual loyalties, and being “all about the Benjamins.”
Her assessment of 9/11 was that “some people did something.”
Humans don’t get much more despicable than Ilhan Omar, yet she is just one more example of his elevation and inclusion of people in his campaign who hate Jews. Incredibly, there is an excrucaitingly deep supply surrounding Sanders.
Earlier this month, Alison Mortell, the Deputy National Analytics Director for the Sanders campaign, tweeted this:
“I once had someone on here say to me” so if Holocaust happens where would you go without Israel??” lmfao”
Apparently, she finds the idea of a homeland for Jews serving as a shield against (another) genocide hilarious. In the same thread she goes on to make the usual claims about Israelis and “ethnic cleansing.” Another class act.
None of this is new. In 2016 Sanders had the opportunity to add people to the Democratic Platform Committee. Good old Bernie chose the previously mentioned Keith Ellison and Cornel West, a man with a long history of denigrating Israel who regularly refers to the basis of Israel as “occupation” and famously did so one day after Palestinians, disguised as religious Jews, murdered four Israelis:
“The real question is going to be a commitment to security for precious Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel can never be predicated on an occupation of precious Palestinians. If we’re concerned about security it seems to me, we’re going to have to talk seriously about occupation. … Occupation is real, it’s concrete.”
Sanders himself was willing to slam Israel in any way he could to win over the attendees.
As Mosaic Magazine reported:
“When Sanders wanted to win the Democratic nomination in 2016, he claimed that Israel had killed over 10,000 innocent Palestinians, launched indiscriminate attacks in the Gaza Strip, and shelled hospitals in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The senator not only inflated the numbers by several orders of magnitude, he even outdid the Hamas spokespersons in creating a false narrative that the IDF was intentionally attacking the civilian population.”
Other proxies are Linda Sarsour, Tlaib, John Cusack, and Amer Zahr. All are pro-Palestinian, Jew hating, supporters of BDS who never met a Jewish stereotype that they didn’t love and love to spew.
I know you are familiar with the comments of Sarsour and Tlaib. But who is Amer Zahr?
He’s a Palestinian-American comedian who once tweeted:
“Describing defenders of Israel as “scumbags,” “pigs,” and “bastards” is not necessary. “Zionist” is sufficiently ? (sic) insulting. #Palestine”
I can go on and on and on, but you get the idea. ALL of these people have made so many anti-Jewish comments that any Jew, or any decent person should be revolted. A comprehensive list would fill a book.
A vote for Bernie is a proxy vote for the Pharaohs, the Hamans, the Seleucids, the Tituses, the Hitlers etc. etc. etc. of history. For “never again” to mean anything, it can’t be abstract, the standard for its application must not be personal politics and, most importantly, it’s lessons have to be heeded before a crisis, not after a crisis comes.
Imagine a Jew in Germany, or Eastern Europe, in 1933. Now imagine that you can reassure that person that after emerging from the coming nightmare, we will have Israel. Then picture telling him that 72 years later, there would be a viable Jewish candidate for the Presidency of the United States!
Now imagine telling him that this same Jewish candidate is the ideological descendant of the same people that are about to make his world a living nightmare.
I don’t feel the Bern: I only feel despair that this amazing nation is even considering this heinously misguided man as the first Jewish President of the United States of America.
Vote responsibly my friends.
Josh Namm is a contributing editor and writer to Jlife magazine.