Elections

Of Course Bernie Sanders Has a Jeremy Corbyn Problem

Senator Bernie Sanders is joined by Representative Ilhan Omar at a campaign event in Manchester, N.H., December 13, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
His indifference to anti-Semitism among some of his prominent supporters is a blot on his candidacy.

‘Trotsky makes the revolutions, and the Bronsteins pay the bills.”

This was the purported rejoinder of Moscow’s chief rabbi, Jacob Maze, after Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky — the former Lev Bronstein — rebuffed his request for assistance, explaining that he was not a Jew but rather an international man of socialism.

I was reminded of this tragic quip when watching a mob of liberal Blue Checkmarks have a collective meltdown over Noah Rothman’s Commentary piece “Bernie Sanders Has a Big Jeremy Corbyn Problem” this weekend.

How could Sanders, a progressive Jew — a man who lost family in the Holocaust, no less! — have an anti-Semitism problem?

Well, for one thing, as Trotsky correctly indicated, socialism tends to corrode all other religious and cultural affiliations. Secular Jewish progressive groups posing as faith-based organizations, for example, have long worked to conflate their ideological positions with Judaism by reimagining the latter to make it indistinguishable from the former. It’s one of the great tragedies of the American Jewish community that they are succeeding.

More bluntly, remember that Sanders honeymooned in Moscow, not Jerusalem, for a good reason. “Let’s take the strengths of both systems,” Sanders insisted even as the reprehensible Soviet system was on the verge of collapse. “Let’s learn from each other,” Sanders said even when over 100 Jewish refuseniks were still being denied permission to leave the Communist regime after enduring decades of anti-Semitic oppression under rhetoric of “anti-Zionism.” As far as I can tell, Sanders never said a word in their defense to his hosts.

Oppressed Russian Jews weren’t his people. Jeremy Corbyn is Bernie’s people. As Rothman notes, no one forced Sanders to compare his movement to Corbynism. Britain’s chief rabbi may have found Corbyn an “existential” threat to his flock, but Sanders never once thought it concerning enough to mention during any of his praise for the British leader.

It should be noted that while Sanders has never personally engaged in the same level of ugliness, he’s right to claim that “there is a real similarity between what he has done and what I did.” Indeed, both have not only given safe haven to antiquated socialist ideas but also rationalized reinvigorated leftist antagonism toward Jews.

Linda Sarsour, the activist who was too radical to remain with the Women’s March — an event that, at conception, rallied around the Farrakhanite notion that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people” — is Bernie’s kind of people.

Sarsour wasn’t lured to Nation of Islam by the threat of the Donald Trump presidency. She gave a speech at a Farrakhan event in 2015, when she was a 35-year-old woman and Barack Obama was the president. Sarsour embraced terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who had participated in a bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket, murdering two people, and became an advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, not because of Trump’s immigration ban. Her singular disdain for the Jewish State radicalized her. Yet, for some reason, Bernie believes she is a “wonderful spokesperson and continues to be surrogate for the campaign.”

Ilhan Omar, not particularly popular among any demographic, yet she is the kind of person Bernie taps to help him in New Hampshire. Karl Marx, the descendant of great rabbis, might have once written that “money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist,” but Omar repackages the sentiment in Tweet form for a new generation.

Yet Bernie says that Omar is “not only one of the most progressive members of the U.S. House, a leader on so many important issues; she is also one of the bravest.”

One could forgive a candidate for accidentally hiring staff that complains about “Jew money,” but less so for tapping a foreign policy adviser who oversaw and wrote for a Center for American Progress blog that was accused — not by the Republican Jewish Coalition, but by the Simon Wiesenthal Center — of providing content that that was “infected with Jew-hatred and discriminatory policy positions toward Israel.” Two bloggers were ultimately fired by the progressive group.

It’s “not anti-Semitic to be critical of a right-wing government in Israel,” Sanders said when confronted by the evidence of his surrogate’s antagonism toward Jews. It’s a good thing, because despite the prevalence of this talking point, no serious person has ever made that argument. Numerous Democrats, including Barack Obama, were critical of Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism by Jewish organizations. For that matter, millions of Israelis are critical of Israel’s right-wing government every day.

There is no political party in Jerusalem that would satisfy Sarsour or Omar, save one run by Fatah. For the duo, and so many of their supporters, the problem is that “Zionism” is a form of white supremacy, a colonial project propelled by the Jewish faith. Sarsour openly made this argument not long ago, asking, “How can you be against white supremacy in America and the idea of being in a state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is based on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else?” It’s the Judaism that’s the problem.

And though Bernie’s campaign hasn’t hit Corbyn levels of danger, it shares many of the ugly characteristics and instincts of its philosophical British cousin. It’s already normalizing anti-Jewish antagonism. The fact that Bernie Sanders is Jewish doesn’t mitigate that fact; it only makes it more appalling.

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