Bernie Sanders, this nation’s first Jewish presidential candidate, could get no closer to the recent AIPAC Policy Conference than Utah, because of time constraints, according to his campaign.
Yet he comes to New York and is suddenly effusive in his Jewish pride. And where does he give this speech? In Harlem.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, who like Sanders is currently running second in his party’s presidential race, comes to New York and spends time making matzah at a Chabad school. No surprise. Cruz, an Evangelical Christian is an ardent supporter of Israel. His political track record has always shown that support.
How many of us have entered voting booths, not knowing some of the candidates, and looked immediately for the Jewish last names to select?
This time around, we’re not sure, even though we know Sanders is Jewish and that he lived for a while on an Israeli kibbutz, that he is someone we’d choose.
In his recent New York Daily News interview, his criticism of Israel for the deaths of “10,000” Palestinians in the 2014 Gaza war was blatantly wrong. Not even close to wrong. Even if one is to believe the United Nations, which we don’t, its number came to 1,462 civilians killed. Israel’s estimate, meanwhile, 762.
The Anti-Defamation League and many Israeli politicians criticized Sanders for this gaffe, and he was quick to correct himself. But even in his correction, he seemed unsteady, unsure.
Still, the Jewish candidate has repeatedly said that Israel’s 2014 military actions in Gaza were “disproportionate.”
He followed up this week with the hire of Simone Zimmerman as his new Jewish outreach director, who, if the JTA story on her is to be believed, is a diabolical, toxic combo of a one-women J-Street, a Jewish Voice for Peace supporter, with a strong influence as a Gaza war vigil organizer outside the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, and an advocate for Hillel to include participation from groups that participate in the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel. Sounds like her job title should be Jewish Alienation Director, if you ask us.
Of course, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have followed up their pro-Israel AIPAC Policy Conference speeches with rhetoric still favoring Israel while on the stump in New York.
But what of Sanders? He’s raised the ire of New York–area Jews for his public association with Cornel West, the African-American Studies professor who is outspoken in his BDS support. And Sanders’s campaign announced recently that he would be going to Rome to speak at the Vatican. AIPAC, no. Vatican, yes.
Next Tuesday, New Yorkers are going to go to the polls. We hope that this time, they don’t go into the election booths and routinely choose the Jewish candidate for President.
Sanders has said many times on the campaign trail that he wants to bring more “balance” to the American position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Michigan, Sanders overwhelmingly captured the large Arab-American vote from the areas around Dearborn.
Yes, this should concern us as voters. In 2000, we were beaming with pride as former Senator Joe Lieberman, an observant Jew, was chosen by Presidential candidate Al Gore to be his running mate. It was a moment of pride for us all.
But Bernie Sanders? It’s time to think again.