Saturday, March 24th | 8 Nisan 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

May 29, 2016 10:46 am

‘Berning’ the Jews: Sanders and the Democratic Platform Committee

avatar by Edward Alexander

Email a copy of "‘Berning’ the Jews: Sanders and the Democratic Platform Committee" to a friend
Bernie Sanders on CNN discussing the Gaza war. Photo: Screenshot.

Bernie Sanders on CNN discussing the Gaza war. Photo: Screenshot.

“Antisemitism is no longer a problem, fortunately. It’s raised because privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control. That’s why antisemitism is becoming an issue.”

–Noam Chomsky, 2002.

“Over 99 percent of all new income generated in the economy has gone to the top 1 percent.”

—Bernie Sanders, 2016.

In mid-April of this year the exigencies of an impending primary election in New York, where he lagged far behind Hillary Clinton among likely Jewish Democratic voters, forced Bernie Sanders to suspend his national Jewish “outreach” coordinator—one Simone Zimmerman. It was revealed that her ostensibly warm Jewish heart had a very cold spot reserved for Israel. That he had appointed such a person to such a position in the first place was a true indication of where Sanders’ own sympathies lay. Any uncertainty about this was put to rest in a debate in Brooklyn where he said: “I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.” He is now practicing what he preached.

No sooner did a desperate Hillary Clinton direct the head of the DNC to bestow upon Sanders five of the fifteen positions on the Democratic Party’s platform committee than he hastened to fill two of them with well-known Israel-haters, or what he calls “helpers” of the Palestinian people, and a third with a politician who is a convert to Islam and once recommended Louis Farrakhan as “a role model for black youth,” and “not an anti-Semite.” Sanders has in the past displayed unseemly envy and sycophantic admiration of foreign countries—the socialism of Sweden, the dictatorship of Nicaragua, the health care of Cuba, the charms of Yaroslavl as honeymoon site and sister city to Burlington, Vermont. But these appointments reveal not only his belief that the key to American foreign policy is the Arab-Israeli conflict, but that Israel’s “intransigence” is the cause of the manifold miseries of the Middle East—a view that even the State Department and its most dogmatic peace-processors have finally, albeit with great sadness, abandoned.

First among Sanders’ “Palestine” trio is James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab-American Institute. He rose to prominence in 1979, when he campaigned on behalf of the National Emergency Committee to Defend Ziad Abu Eain and prevent his extradition to Israel for taking part in a bombing in Tiberias that had killed two Israeli teenagers and wounded 36 others. The effort failed, and Abu Eain spent four years of a longer sentence in an Israeli jail (before being released in a prisoner exchange). Zogby has for many years, usually within the Democratic Party, worked to redress what he considers the excessive influence of American Jews upon foreign policy. He is a firm believer in the Israeli-Nazi equation: how dare the Jews monopolize all that beautiful Holocaust suffering which the Palestinians, ex post facto, would very much like to share? Besides, reasons Zogby, if the Palestinians are the new Jews, then of course the Israelis must be the new Nazis. None of this has disturbed Sanders, a Jew who refers to himself with the evasive locution: “proud child of Polish immigrants.”

Sanders’ second appointee is Cornel West, the perpetually frenzied black academic who has condemned President Obama himself as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate  plutocrats.” West is the longtime associate of Michael Lerner, who pioneered the Palestinian cause within the Jewish community, and was once Hillary Clinton’s Rasputin in the White House. West endorsed Sanders’s candidacy at an early stage of the campaign, and just after publicly summoning a number of prominent blacks to call for the elimination of Israel from the family of nations. Sanders did not flinch from the endorsement or regret its timing; and now West has been rewarded. This appointment, more than any other, expresses Sanders’ desire [to] epater les Juifs; the eminent sociologist Werner Cohn shrewdly calls it Sanders’ declaration of “a final break with the Jewish people.”

The third “Palestinian” appointment is Keith Ellison, a Catholic convert to Islam who is a congressman from Minnesota. Unlike Zogby and West, he has not made the end of Israel his raison d’etre, but he has long maintained warm and supportive relations with such apologists for Palestinian terrorism as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), a front group for Hamas. He has come to its defense against allegations brought by the FBI and members of  Congress. In October 2006  he was the keynote speaker at a CAIR conference in Florida. In 2008 he called on listeners to a local Tampa radio station to give their support to Sami al-Arian. Arian, a former professor at University of South Florida, had confessed two years earlier to conspiring to supply goods and services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization responsible for numerous suicide attacks on Israel.

Sanders’ appointment of this trio expresses his confidence (perhaps justified) that devotion to the Palestinian cause is not only the litmus test of modern progressivism but is now even dearer to the hearts of Democratic voters than abortion, gay marriage, “All Gender” bathrooms, and other liberal ventures into the legalization of forbidden fruit.

Sanders did show some awareness of foreign countries other than Israel and “Palestine” by  giving one of the two remaining spots on the DNC platform committee to a global warming zealot who also advocates the “only one child per family” scheme, which has had such an exciting history in China.

There is, to be sure, one way in which Israel really is at the center of world affairs: it is the way of hallucination. “We live in an age,” observed David Nirenberg in his history of anti-Judaism, “in which millions of people are exposed daily to some variant of the argument that the challenges of the world they live in are best explained in terms of ‘Israel.’”

Sanders constantly repeats that all he desires in American Middle East policy is greater “even-handedness,” i.e., less “favoritism” on behalf of Israel. What this really means is that Israel must be deprived of its single powerful ally in the UN and in world affairs generally. On May 25, for example, the World Health Organization voted for a UN resolution to single out Israel as the only violator of “elemental, physical and environmental health” in the world, and commissioned a WHO delegation to investigate and report on “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory.” The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, and other European Union states voted “Yes” to singling out Israel as the world’s only violator of human decency in medical matters. The UN assembly did not address Syrian hospitals being bombed by Syrian and Russian warplanes, or millions of Yemenis denied access to food and water by the Saudi-led bombings and blockade; neither did it pass a resolution about Venezuelan citizens being starved by their (Sanders-style) “democratic socialist” government. Out of 24 items on the meeting’s agenda, only one, Item No. 19 against Israel, focused on a specific country. For good measure a WHO delegation was commissioned to investigate health conditions in “the occupied Syrian Golan.” No doubt these same nations would much prefer that ISIS take charge of the Golan inhabitants’ health and well-being. In such situations, the United States, even under the reign of Obama, remains Israel’s only reliable ally and support. “Even-handedness” has long been a euphemism for abandonment.

But that aspect of the matter does not interest Sanders. That Israeli Jews have been under attack in a siege, at once military and ideological, that has lasted for 68 years is no more likely to interfere with his telescopic philanthropy than is the current plight of Jewish students right here in American universities to arouse his sympathy. These students are constantly assailed, physically as well as verbally, by the same thuggish “progressives” who have carried the “Bernie” banners and worn the “Bernie” shirts in the anti-Trump riots in Chicago and Nevada.

One aspect of the American “exceptionalism” that has so often provoked Barack Obama’s sneer is the near absence of antisemitism from our national politics. It would be ironic if it were now introduced into the political arena by a Jew. Sanders, let us remember, is a disciple of Noam Chomsky, whom Mayor Sanders of Burlington liked to bring to a town that needed its own foreign policy as “a very vocal and important voice in the wilderness of intellectual life in America…a person who [sic] I think we’re all very proud of.” Chomsky, too, has endorsed his friend Sanders for the Democratic nomination; and he must be  greatly pleased by the way in which his disciple has gone him one point better by promoting a negative political campaign against the “one percent,” in the very best tradition of demagogic European assaults on the Tenth Commandment, the culminating one, against covetousness.

It should come as no surprise that a modern American Jew has opened the door to antisemitism in American politics. In 2008, shortly after I had written about the spread of anti-Israel venom in segments of the Democratic Party, the late Barry Rubin (an eminent scholar of Middle Eastern affairs) sent me a consolatory note: “Well, look at the bright side, we’re not doing so badly. Take away the Jews and Muslims in America and people like Israel!” We already have a plethora of hole and corner sects of Jews arrayed against Israel: Jewish Progressives against Israel; Holocaust Survivors against Israel; J Street (a favorite of Sanders’); Children of Holocaust Survivors against Israel; Jewish Voice for Peace; Survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto against Israel; Jewish postmodernists against Israel; Grandchildren of  Holocaust survivors against Israel; Jewish Berkeley Professors against Israel; and so on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. But Sanders’ campaign, which is by now less for the presidency than for doctrinal control of the Democratic Party by its left wing, has taken this campaign for politicide to a new level, one that will make it far more difficult for people to believe that Jews who despise Israel and are ashamed to have a state are as rare as singing mice and card-playing pigs.

Edward Alexander’s most recent book is Jews Against Themselves (Transaction Publishers).

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Noodle

    Too many kooks spoil the platform.

  • With “Jews” like Bernie we really don’t need enemies. Bernie will find them for us in Jamez Zogby, Cornel West and the black converted to Islam Keith Ellis. All of who hate Jews and Israel.

    Why doesn’t someone take a 2×4 to Bernie’s head? This self-hating bastard has to be sick to think they way he thinks and talks about Israel and killing 10,000 Gazan civilians.

    Jews are the weakest and most hated people in the world because they don’t threaten their haters like the blacks and the Arabs do.

    I wish every Jew had a black violence gene and an Arab hostility gene then we would stop being victimized.

    Every Jew should buy a powerful gun or more than one and learn how to shoot it and use if need be before they come after Jews like recently the 2 black attacks on NY synagoues Google it.

    Aren’t you tired of being a victim?

    Wealth without power is a formula for disaster.

  • Dave

    Why are you’ll complaining about Sanders? He is a representative of
    the new left and if you want to be a member in good standing then you have to support the Palestinians and decry Israel’s inhumane treatment of the Pals. The fact that you were born Jewish or spent a few weeks on a Socialist Kibbutz picking oranges should not confuse your commitment to the greater cause. How is he different than from Marx, Engels and many other Jews who swore allegiance to all kinds of ideologies in hope that those will bring equality and emancipation? BDS likes Bernie. Hamas likes Bernie. Berkeley loves Bernie. I was going to vote for Hillary but I am starting to think that only Trump can be relied on.

  • Zucker

    The words of Bernie go beyond politics.
    While proclaiming that he is jewish he is striving for recognition and acceptance.
    In the 1950’s Bernie would have been an anti-colonialist…now considering Israel has the bogey-country is in fashion.
    Bernie had to jump on that band wagon.
    Also he accentuates the cultural divide by
    refusing to reach out to practising jews.
    It is a rejection of the roots of the shetl and the mellah. The far-off payess wearing cousin is an embarassment for his
    “Café Society” friends.

  • Arnishel Ross

    I am a Canadian of Jewish background.I cannot vote but when I found out that Bernie Sanders was running I was all for him. But over the past few months as Bernie Sanders showed me his dislike of his own faith and the State of Israel I want him to lose and lose badly… even to HER…. Hillary.

  • Pearl

    I refuse to listen or read anything about sanders. He’s first and foremost a self hating Jew, an anti-semite. Secondly he’s a liar, pure and simple. Third, he would like to do nothing but destroy Israel. ANY Jew who supports this man is in a sorry place in his life.
    You are not looking at the big picture. He will say and do anything to destroy the Jewish state.
    If he becomes president, like o bum er, will continue the destruction of America and in addition he will hard to destroy Israel!

    • Marilyn Chernack

      So right!

  • nat cheiman

    This man is dangerous unto himself

  • Ani

    “Jews” such as Sanders and Chomsky are the epitome of the the self-hating Jew. I can assure you that Sanders’ actions reflects his true intent. His appointment of Zimmerman should have alerted every thinking Jew or friend of Israel. He is especially dangerous as it is difficult to accuse someone born of Jewish parents of antisemitism.

    At this point he is pandering to his base; so-called radical progressives and independents. Many are quite young. Far too many are elderly ditzy “progressives”, too often Jewish, who like to portray themselves as “thinking young”. They don’t think though which is part of the problem.

    I will be watching to see what he does to the Democratic platform. If need be, I’ll just vote Republican. I don’t agree with them on many issues such as the environment, health care or finances, but Israel’s security is paramount.

  • In thinking about the subject matter of this commentary, my wife has surmised that Sanders probably had a lousy time on the kibbutz, where he was either a volunteer or perhaps to learn Hebrew in an ulpan. I can relate: my first experience on kibbutz (in early 1968), was problematic at the very beginning of my stay. Suffice it to say, the first yom rishon was extremely difficult, as the Sunday before, I had spent the morning in bed reading the NY Times!

    So maybe his experience left him with a sour taste in his mouth. Someone should ask him about the specifics of his months on kibbutz.

    With all his appointments of these self-professed anti-semites, I can only think that Bernie Sanders is, in fact, a Jewish Anti-Semite himself.

  • Steve Firestone

    I was a liberal jew who supported Israel and Sanders. When he overstated the number of dead Arabs at 10,000 I told people he had made an error and that he was still the great fresh idea guy who would save America and support Israel. He has cured me of my unwavering liberalism and taught me not to unilaterally trust every so-called good cause that drops from the sky.

  • I am no fan of Prime Minister Netanyshu or the Settlers but really Cornel West is an out n out anti-Semite as is that second liar James Zogby who lives off the Hamas Hezzbolah terrorist supporters while Ellisons so called Minneapolis Jewish supporterd aint to real Jews. Sanders should be ashamed of himself.

  • Judith Levine

    Senator Sanders may be a genetic Jew but that appears to be his only connection. He claims he is proud of being a Jew but is involved in no known Jewish activities or groups, does not support Israel, and as far as I can tell, the only faith his children know anything about is Catholicism. He befriends so many anti-Israel men and women he could be mistaken for a mouthpiece for BDS, SJP, or JVP. He also acts lie a spoiled child when he loses a primary, yelling that it must be rigged. His foreign policy is vague outside of his clear anti-Israel stance, his financial policy is unworkable, and other than a single payer source, his health care plan sounds too vague. So after listening to the Senator, I have come to the conclusion that I’m With Her.

  • The one positive moment that this perverted monster self-hater had given the opportunity in this country to compete for the position of the President, the way I see it, is that he at the moment he competes with other monster – Hillary.
    The other positive moment is, for those Americans who at least minimally know the history, he shows the real face of the socialism, shows the brain-washed public, the students of radically-liberal colleges and universities, who support him having no knowledge of the real life, are absolutely illiterate, ignorant and arrogant.

  • Peter

    Bernie has Israels best interests at heart. He is for an Israel at lasting peace with the Palestinians and the equal treatment for all. He is not against Jews. As for the headline Berning the Jews well that is just so inappropriate and an obvious word association play on a terrible incident of which Bernie would have been among the first to fight.

    • Isahiah62

      needs a /sarc tag

      b/c if you are serious it’s truly sad

  • stevenl

    US social-democrats at war against democracy in the ME!

  • Americans must call their elected officials and state their reasons for opposition to anti-Israel bigotry being put into the Democratic Party’s National Platform.

    What perhaps makes Sanders the Judenrat Kapo perhaps most disgusting of all is that he puts no demands on Palestinian leaders to recognize the rights of Palestinians.

    In the West Bank, an atheist published a very mild critique of Islam, and asked why there isn’t more separation of mosque and state. A mob howled for his death — instead of arresting the mob, the P.A. jailed the atheist blogger. Sanders of course doesn’t mention that. Israel must be blamed at all costs and for everything!

    And what about Abbas, calling jihadist stabbers “martyrs” and saying “We welcome every drop of blood spilled”? Abbas openly announces depraved indifference for the lives of his own people, and Sanders doesn’t say boo to a ghost about it.

    Also let’s not forget; each year, American Jews those just 2% of the population are over 50% of hate crime victims for religious-based hate crimes. You are that right; American Jews are the victims of religion-based hate crimes at an annual rate higher than that for the members of ALL other religions combined.

    Sanders has not mentioned that once in his campaign.

  • Edward Alexander is great!

    before June 22, 1941, people like sanders were arguing for US neutrality in WW2; sanders’ ideological comrades OPPOSED US aid to Britain; they wanted strict neutrality, what the old fool, sanders, calls “evenhandedness,” between Brtain, France, etc. and the Germans. hey, how could anyone oppose “evenhandedness”? thankfully, there were people who knew that “evenhandedness” really meant support for the Germans; US support was indispensable to the survival of Britain. (of course, the position of the sanders crowd changed when the Germans attacked Soviet forces…but, until then, the sanders crowd opposed aid to Britain. the sanders crowd SUPPORTED the alliance between Germany and the USSR and the destruction of Poland and the Baltic States, etc., etc. it’s good to remember this.)

    the call for evenhandedness in Europe, THEN, and the call for evenhandedness in Israel, NOW, is the same: it is a disgraceful, fraudulent demand to abandon an ally, made with the conviction that, if US aid were withheld, the ally would be unable to sustain itself.

    “evenhandedness”? sounds good, right? fairness, right? sounds good, yes, but it is WRONG: IT’S A LIE, SANDERS KNOWS IT’S A LIE. SANDERS KNOWS THAT IT WOULD MEAN THE END OF ISRAEL.

  • dan ehrlich

    The root of much anti Israel sentiment and Bernie’s stance is based on its current politics…Sanders and his ilk loved Israel when it was the darling of the Left with its liberal Labor government.

    Since the rise of Likud and other rightest parties, lefties such as Sanders have been repelled and even hurt that the country should have evolved in such a way.

    The Palestinian issue is a rallying point for the Left and a way to scapegoat Israel for the shortcomings and violence in their own nations. American college students, for example, never think of the fact more gun deaths and mass shooting happen in America in one year than in several years of all Israel-Arab confrontations combined.

    But more than this, Bernie Sanders has a limited view of the world, especially the Middle East, and is wrong about a few aspects of the European socialism he loves. Some EU nations provide free health care, others do not…most EU nations charge hefty college tuition fees these days.

    He’s really a one issue candidate…a guy who despises big money and would probably make a bad president. The real tragedy that has been revealed is that we really have to choose between the lesser of evils in a rigged political system that’s eroding democracy in the USA.

  • David M.

    I hadn’t realized this with Sanders and very much appreciate knowing it. I had already decided that Progressives and moderate Dems, like Clinton, had betrayed Israel. It’s interesting how Obama, Clinton, and the Progressives have sided against Israel when the greatest purveyors of genocide are the Iranians and Iranian-backed Palestinians and ISIS. The NYT years ago had a cover page of its magazine section with a gigantic finger pointing down at a Jew.

    And then there’s TRUMP. He’s no better on this issue. He’s now becoming just another politician. Listening to whoever will get him elected and wherever the money is coming from. Another phony.

    America, I am afraid, is in a real tailspin if Clinton, Sanders, and Trump are now positioned to lead this country. Clinton can’t be trusted on Israel and her advisors hold similar positions as Sanders.

    Oi vey.

  • Jay Lavine

    I suppose the remission of debts every seven years and the return of land to its original owners in the Jubilee were not ordained by God but rather inserted into the Torah by liberals consumed with covetousness.