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February 24, 2020 6:42 am

Another Bernie Sanders Anti-Israel Surrogate

avatar by Petra Marquardt-Bigman


Democratic US presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is accompanied by his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders and other relatives as he speaks at his New Hampshire primary night rally in Manchester, NH, US, February 11, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking.

A recent article by controversial Bernie Sanders surrogate Amer Zahr has a somewhat misleading headline, which claims that Arab and Muslim Americans are voting for Sanders because he is Jewish. But as Zahr eventually explains, there is a very different reason: “In 2016, Palestinian and Arab American activists made a bet on Bernie. We urged his campaign to speak about justice for the Palestinians. We promised our support in return. He did it, and we delivered. And we are delivering again.”

Of course, there is nothing wrong with all sorts of interest groups trying to persuade presidential candidates to promote their agenda in return for political support. But Sanders — or at least his staff — surely know full well what these kinds of “activists” mean when they demand “justice for the Palestinians,” because this is always a polite way to insist on the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state.

Amer Zahr himself is the best example. Less than four weeks ago, he tweeted: “One State in #Palestine. Democratic. Secular. Open. It’s the only way for #Justice and #Equality.”

That may not sound so bad, but all the sweet talk about “justice” and “equality” conceals a vicious hatred.

Zahr’s relentless demonization of the Jewish state and his antisemitic outbursts have already been documented — including tweets that echo the medieval blood-libel. But given that Zahr now says that activists like him first approached Sanders in 2016, one tweet from 2015 seems particularly interesting — because it suggests that Zahr and his ilk have always regarded Sanders as a staunch anti-Zionist.

As Zahr opined in October 2015:

So as far as Sanders surrogate Amer Zahr is concerned, the majority of Jews in the world, as well as many non-Jews who also support the existence of the Jewish state, are “scumbags,” “pigs,” and “bastards.” How is it possible that a supposedly progressive presidential candidate, who is doing very well in the polls, can ally himself with someone who promotes such dehumanizing language?

But Zahr’s bigotry almost pales beside his breathtaking hypocrisy. Zahr is, of course, an ardent advocate for the BDS movement that campaigns tirelessly to demonize Israel as a rogue state that must be shunned and boycotted.

However, you would be wrong to think that he practices what he preaches. When the popular US comedian Louis CK scheduled a show in Israel, Zahr took to Twitter to urge him to cancel — but Zahr himself is only too happy to perform his “comedic routines” in Israel. As he told The Jerusalem Post in an interview four years ago, he “comes to the Palestinian territories and Israel between one and three times annually” — though when he isn’t posing as a semi-reasonable and semi-funny comedian for the media, he tells his social media followers that he’s performing in Haifa in Palestine, and in the Palestinian capital Jerusalem.

To ratchet up the hypocrisy even more, Zahr — who likes to claim that his parents were Palestinian “refugees” who were “driven from their birthplaces of Yafa and Akka by Israel” — once stated in a publicly available exchange on Facebook that he has an Israeli passport because his mother “was born as an Israeli citizen in akka [presumably Akko/Acre] after 1948.” This allowed Zahr, who was born in Jordan, to apply for Israeli citizenship — which he obviously did successfully. Of course, this also means that his Israeli mother is not a “refugee” who was “driven” out by Israel.

As bizarre as it may seem, Bernie Sanders thus has an Israeli surrogate who despises “defenders of Israel” as “scumbags,” “pigs,” and “bastards.” And while the mainstream media apparently prefer to ignore this story, those of us who care about antisemitism have every reason to conclude that Amer Zahr’s shocking record of amply documented bigotry is yet another alarming indication that progressives have a high tolerance for contemporary versions of the oldest hatred.

Petra Marquardt-Bigman is a German-Israeli freelance writer and researcher with a Ph.D. in contemporary history.

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