Bernie Sanders’ Turn against Israel, and What It Means for the Democrats

After making a surprisingly good showing in his bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders has become a leading figure in his party’s left wing—which has always been the segment least supportive of Israel. Jonathan Tobin notes that Sanders’ recent public statements and videos posted on his official Twitter account suggest Sanders himself is moving from a tepid sympathy toward the Jewish state to outright hostility:

[Sanders’] support [for Israel] was never enthusiastic and often deeply critical. But in the last several weeks, he hasn’t merely revisited his opposition to Israel’s measures of self-defense [that he articulated in] 2014. Last month, in addition to condemning Israel for using “disproportionate” force to defend itself, Sanders . . . authored a letter signed by twelve other Senate Democrats that demanded the lifting of the blockade of Gaza. . . .

But with last week’s Twitter videos, Sanders took another step away from even nominal support for the Jewish state. He has adopted the Palestinian narrative about the “Great March of Return” in total. He not only accepts the blatantly false claim that it is “non-violent,” thereby ignoring the use of Molotov cocktails, stones, firearms, and incendiary [kites and balloons] that have laid waste to swaths of Israeli fields. He also claims that Hamas wasn’t involved despite the fact that it has already claimed responsibility and admitted that most of those killed while attempting to breach Israel’s border fence were members of the terror group. . . .

In doing so, Sanders isn’t merely taking another step away from the Democrats’ former position as a pro-Israel party. He’s laying down a marker that other liberal contenders in 2020 will either have to match or to oppose as they compete for the presidency. What this means is that unlike 2016—when the argument among Democrats was one about how supportive to be of Israel—in 2020 the question may be whether you agree with Hamas about destroying the Jewish nation, in essence rendering the position of the left-wing J Street lobby that, at least officially, sees itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace” even more irrelevant. Pro-Israel Democrats . . . are going to need to find their voices—and a candidate—if they don’t want their party to become a stronghold of hate against Israel in the coming years.

Read more at JNS

More about: Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, J Street, US-Israel relations

Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus