Diary

The AntiSemitism of Bernie Sanders, an American of Jewish Heritage

As I started writing this, 9:01 AM Saturday morning, I had to tear myself away from the television, where the FX Movie Channel was showing Lisa, a 1962 movie also known as The Inspector, about a Christian Dutch policeman trying to smuggle a Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps into British-held Palestine. Like Exodus before it, in 1960, it is a fictionalized account of the very real struggles of the Jewish survivors of the war to reach the Levant and their bravery in recreating the nation of Israel.

The New York Times published an essay by Shmuel Rosner, Why Israel Still Loves Netanyahu.

(Binyamin) Netanyahu may be cynical but he doesn’t rig elections. He wins fairly, often against great odds, including, this time, the coming indictments against him and an understandable fatigue with his decade-old leadership, not to mention various other inter- and intraparty squabbles. But he seems to have succeeded again this time for the same reason he has dominated Israeli politics for most of the past 25 years: because when it comes to Israel’s national security, he is a leader with strategy and vision. And that is what many voters want.

In the mid-1990s, during his first term as prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu rejected the assumptions underlying the peace process with the Palestinians. At the time this was considered daringly right wing. Today, it is considered common sense in Israel, including by Mr. Netanyahu’s political rivals. Likewise, Mr. Netanyahu was one of the first politicians to recognize Iran as the main threat to Israel’s survival, and fought fiercely in international forums to get the world’s attention to this problem. Today, this view is also widely appreciated across the Israeli political spectrum.

The list goes on: In 2005, he warned that withdrawing Israeli troops from Gaza would end in disaster — and it did. He successfully resisted eight years of the Obama administration’s pressure to offer concessions to the Palestinians. He quickly forged an alliance with President Trump that has already proved to be of great benefit to Israel. In two years, Mr. Trump has moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and on Monday, designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

Blue and White tried to make this election a referendum on Mr. Netanyahu. Its campaign focused largely on the prime minister’s personal failings, the corruption accusations against him, and exhaustion with his leadership. But in Israel, security trumps all other issues. (A poll ahead of the election found voters rated security as their No. 1 concern.)

It was long supposed that Jewish voters in the United States would be strong supporters of Israel, the return of the Jews to Israel after nineteen centuries in the diaspora, after the antiSemitism through which they suffered throughout Christian Europe, an antiSemitism which reached its zenith with the Third Reich but which long predated it. Both the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States were strongly supportive of the Jewish state, and there was never any question concerning our special relationship with Israel. With their heavily urbanized population and more socially liberal attitudes, American Jews naturally gravitated to the Democratic Party, where, behind black Americans, they form the party’s second most loyal voting demographic.

And, as has happened to black voters, the Democrats have taken Jewish voters for granted, as so-called ‘progressives’ have gained a larger voice. The problem is that the ‘progressives’ have developed a huge amount of sympathy for the poor, oppressed Palestinians, a sympathy which has turned into outright antiSemitism.

This came to a head in early march, when Representative Ilhan Omar Hirsi (D-MN 5th District) made yet another of her anti-Israel and antiSemitic comments.

The controversy began on February 28, when Omar attended an event at Busboys and Poets in Washington.

She was coming off months of controversy about anti-Israel comments and other comments perceived as antisemitic.

For instance, she had backtracked on an old tweet, where she claimed Israel “hypnotized” the world and she had sought to apologize again after a more recent tweet in February, where she claimed support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”

Then they gave remarks at the Busboys and Poets event that claimed “political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

This led to calls for a resolution condemning antiSemitism in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, but the new wave of ‘progressives’ who provide the Democrats margin of majority weren’t going to have it, not without broadening it in a fashion to condemn all forms or prejudice, one in which Mrs Hirsi’s antiSemitism could be somehow minimized.

So, what led to this article? It was Senator Bernie Sanders’ (S-VT) inane tweet:

Senator Sanders is an American of Jewish descent. Born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn,

his father, Elias Ben Yehuda Sanders, was born in Słopnice, Galicia in Austria-Hungary (now part of Poland), to a Jewish family; in 1921, Elias immigrated to the United States, where he became a paint salesman. His mother, Dorothy “Dora” Sanders (née Glassberg), was born in New York City to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland and Russia.

Yet, with a Jewish background, and many family members, including his uncle Abraham Schnützer, who remained in Poland killed by the Nazis, Mr Sanders, a self-described socialist, has chosen to side with the antiSemitic ‘progressives’ in Congress, including those like Mrs Hirsi and Representative Rashida Harbi Tlaib (D-MI 13th District), rather than the survivors of the Holocaust.

And so we come back to Prime Minister Netanyahu, re-elected once again as Prime Minister of Israel, despite his personal problems, because the citizens of Israel recognize that, surrounded by enemies who would like nothing more than to push them back into the sea. It’s easier, I suppose, for American Jews, whose greatest security worry isn’t Palestinian terrorists trying to kill them and burn out their houses but possibly being robbed, to oppose Mr Netanyahu, to go along with President Obama’s attempts to defeat the Israeli Prime Minister in his 2015 re-election campaign and promulgate a more hostile foreign policy stance toward Israel even after Donald Trump had won the 2016 election, but at some point one would think that even politically liberal American Jews would become wary of the blatant antiSemitism of the ‘progressive’ left.

There is a concept of the ‘self-hating Jew,’ one I am loath to even mention, given that the term is pejorative and the entire concept seems antiSemitic.

Self-hating Jew or self-loathing Jew is a pejorative term used for a Jew who is alleged to hold antisemitic views. Although similar accusations of being uncomfortable with one’s Jewishness were already being made by groups of Jews against one another before Zionism existed as a movement, the concept gained widespread currency after Theodor Lessing’s 1930 book Der Jüdische Selbsthass (“Jewish Self-hatred”), which tried to explain the prevalence of Jewish intellectuals inciting antisemitism with their views toward Judaism. The term became “something of a key term of opprobrium in and beyond Cold War-era debates about Zionism”.

Well, I may be uncomfortable with the concept, but there are times when I read the idiocy of American Jews siding with antiSemitic ‘progressives’ that I have to wonder if it isn’t at least somewhat true. I have said previously that it is intellectually possible to be opposed to Israeli policy without being antiSemitic, but that I had never met anyone who had accomplished that trick. It was the presence of people like the Distinguished Gentleman from Vermont, an American of Jewish descent, that gave me at least some pause in making that statement, but with almost every word that he utters I am more and more convinced that my statement remains true, even of American Jews.
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