While Bernie Sanders is not the only Democratic presidential candidate who declined to attend the annual conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he is the only one who explained that he would not do so because the organization serves as a platform “for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” (Elizabeth Warren tacitly endorsed a similar statement.) Alex Joffe examines the implications these statements may have if Sanders wins the nomination:
[First of all], candidates for House and Senate races . . . will be pressured to fall in line with the presidential frontrunner. . . . and to vilify Israel. . . . Moreover, this litmus test will be applied to American Jews, long [among] the most dependable supporters of the Democratic party. The choice between party loyalty—a key element of American Jewish identity—or support for a country that has been labeled “right-wing” and “racist” by Sanders will be difficult. . . . Whether the majority of American Jews will risk being labeled “right wing” and “racist” is unclear.
And should Sanders fail either to become the nominee or to be elected president in November, it is a virtual certainty that, in precisely the same manner of Jeremy Corbyn and the British Labor party, Israel and Jews will be blamed for his failure. The belief in Zionist conspiracies are a key element of progressive politics and will only expand as disloyalty to the party ideology and to its leader is rooted out.
[T]he equation of Zionism and Israel with “right-wing” politics, “racism,” and its American variant “white supremacy,” has taken a huge leap forward with Sanders. Unless he can be stopped by his own party or by the reelection of Donald Trump, these concepts will become absolute fixtures on the American left. Combating these conceptions within American society as a whole, however, is a bipartisan task.