Politics & Policy

Bernie Sanders, the Non-Jewish Jew and Non-American American

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Cut off from his own roots, he wants others to be alienated, too.

If you want to understand Bernie Sanders, this is what you need to know:

He is the quintessential modern identity-free man.

He is a non-Jewish Jew and a non-American American.

In Sanders’s speeches and interviews, there is virtually no mention of his being a Jew (unless asked about it). And — amazing for an American presidential candidate — there are few mentions of America, except to lament American inequality, Wall Street corruption, and other American evils.

The term “non-Jewish Jew” is not mine. It is generally attributed to a Jewish historian, Isaac Deutscher, who wrote an essay by that name in 1954. The term describes individuals who, though born Jews identify as citizens of the world rather than as Jews, either nationally or religiously (Judaism consists of a national and peoplehood identity, not only a religious one).

Once the walls of Jewish ghettos broke down and European Jews were allowed to leave Jewish enclaves, many Jews became non-Jewish Jews. In most cases, either they or their children assimilated into the societies in which they lived.

However, a small but significant percentage became radicalized. They loathed religion, especially all Judeo- and Christian-based religions; traditional middle-class (“bourgeois”) values; capitalism; all Western national identities (they supported anti-Western national identities); and they particularly hated Jewish religious and national identity.

What, for example, do Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Noam Chomsky, and George Soros have in common?

They were (or are) all radicals, were born to Jewish parents, had (or have) no Jewish identity, and do harm to both Jews and non-Jews.

Karl Marx was the grandson of two Orthodox rabbis (his parents converted to Christianity), yet he wrote one of the most significant anti-Semitic essays of the 19th century, “On the Jewish Question” (1844). In it one finds such statements as:

Money is the jealous god of Israel, beside which no other god may exist. . . . The god of the Jews has been secularized and has become the god of the world. . . . The social emancipation of Jewry is the emancipation of society from Jewry.

Leon Trotsky, born Lev Bronstein, was the intellectual father of Russian, later Soviet, Communism. He along with Stalin and three others (two of whom were also non-Jewish Jews) fought to succeed Lenin as leader of the Communist Party.

In 1920, when Trotsky was head of the Red Army, Moscow’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Jacob Mazeh, asked Trotsky to use the army to protect the Jews from pogroms. Trotsky reportedly responded: “Why do you come to me? I am not a Jew.”

To which Rabbi Mazeh answered: “That’s the tragedy. It’s the Trotskys who make revolutions, and it’s the Bronsteins who pay the price.”

A consistent feature of radicals is that anti-Jewish and anti-American nationalisms are good, while Jewish and American nationalisms are bad.

Noam Chomsky is hostile to the two identities into which he was born. He has devoted much of his life to working against America and Israel. To cite but one example, he traveled to Lebanon to appear with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Nasrallah and lend his support to a group that is officially listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and which is committed to the annihilation of Israel.

George Soros is another born-Jew who became a radical world citizen, alienated from America and his Jewish origins, and who damages both. Martin Peretz, former editor and publisher of The New Republic, described him in these words:

George Soros is ostentatiously indifferent to his own Jewishness. He is not a believer. He has no Jewish communal ties. He certainly isn’t a Zionist. He told Connie Bruck in The New Yorker — testily, she recounted — that “I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence — but I don’t want to be part of it.”

Soros supports Palestinian nationalism. A consistent feature of radicals is that anti-Jewish and anti-American nationalisms are good, while Jewish and American nationalisms are bad.

Bernie Sanders is a milder version of these radical non-Jewish Jews. He, too, is alienated from his Jewish and American origins.

And that explains his attitudes and policies: People with no national or religious roots who become politically active frequently seek to undermine the national and religious identities of others, especially those in their own national and religious group. In the case of Sanders, that means Jewish and American identities.

That’s why non-Jewish Jews are far more likely to work to weaken Christianity in America than Jewish Jews, especially religious Jews. Religious Jews celebrate religious Christians. The same holds true for Americans non-Jews who have rejected any identification with Christianity: Many seek to weaken Christian influence and identity in America.

Non-Jewish Jews such as Sanders are alienated from Jews who strongly identify as Jews, and from Christians who strongly identify as Christians. And non-American Americans like Sanders and others who identify as “world citizens” more than as American citizens are alienated from Americans who strongly identify as Americans.

The radical non-Jewish Jew and the radical non-American American love humanity, but they hurt real humans, especially Jews and Americans.


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