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January 7, 2020 10:14 am

Sanders Picks Former Obama Official as Liaison to Jewish Community

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Joel Rubin. Photo: Screenshot. – The Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) named Joel Rubin, a former Obama official, as its liaison to Jewish community.

JTA first reported the appointment on Friday.

“It’s really exciting because Bernie is building a movement here that is one that is essentially engaging the diversity of America,” Rubin told JTA on Thursday. “What we’re going to do is make sure that the Jewish voice and community is part and parcel of that movement.”

He said that engaging with legacy Jewish organizations will “be part of the work—I want them to hear from us and I want us to hear from them.”

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“As a Jewish candidate he is a unique voice, he’s a person whose personal bio is rooted in ending up on these shores as a result of suffering antisemitism abroad,” said Rubin. “This is the most quintessential Jewish American story if ever there was one, to have him out there for the American Jewish community, which is attacked and under siege. It is so valuable to have a politician and a leader running who gets it in his kishkes.”

Rubin served as an aide to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and was a deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under US President Barack Obama.

Rubin downplayed criticism that the Sanders campaign has antisemitic surrogates, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour.

“We’re not going to get sucked into the false choice our opponents try to put us into—‘are you for Israel or against Israel,’ ” said Rubin. “We’re not going to allow others to define for us what it means to care about being Jewish.”

Democratic Majority for Israel slammed Rubin’s apparent dismissal.

“We congratulate Joel on his new assignment,” said the statement sent to JTA. “But there is simply no excuse for any candidate failing to condemn antisemitic statements made by individuals they appoint as campaign officials.”

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