Contra Paul Berman, Bernie Sanders Won’t Be a Bulwark against anti-Semitism on the American Left

In a series of essays written last year, the eminent liberal intellectual Paul Berman explored the decline of the French and British left into anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. He then argued that, despite evidence of similar tendencies in the U.S., the socialist presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders could well provide what it takes to keep them in check. Matt Johnson remains unconvinced:

Perhaps it is true, [as Berman suggests], that Sanders “relishes the memory of his student socialist idyll in 1963, toiling for the brotherhood of man . . . at kibbutz Sha’ar ha-Amakim, near Haifa.” But why did Sanders ask [the left-wing activist] Linda Sarsour—who thinks “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” and who is an unapologetic ally and defender of the Nation of Islam—to introduce him at his rallies? Why did Sanders “help to define as admirably progressive” (in Berman’s own words) Rashida Tlaib, who “turns out to be a champion of Israel’s demise”? And why did Sanders tell the New York Daily News editorial board that his “recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza” during the 2014 war, a statement that betrayed his readiness to believe outlandish reports of Israeli brutality? . . .

As the House debated a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism in response to [Representative Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic] remarks, Sanders issued a statement in support of Omar: “What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate [over the Israeli government’s behavior]. That’s wrong.” Sanders’s statement attacked a straw man—almost nobody was arguing that legitimate criticism of Israel should be silenced. But Sanders knew he would face furious opposition from progressives if he condemned Omar, so he refused to do so. . . .

It doesn’t matter if Sanders still harbors nostalgia for the radical socialist Israeli experiment of yore—he is notably less enthusiastic about the liberal capitalist nation it has become. Nor does it matter if he does indeed retain a warm spot in his heart for Jews—he has repeatedly demonstrated that political expediency can cool it off. This is why, if Sanders is the best defense against the Corbynization on the American left, we’re in trouble.

While anti-Semitism hasn’t become institutionalized on the American left as it has in the [British] Labor party, in a way, this makes Sanders’s vacillations and excuses all the more feeble. If he can’t summon the political courage to fight against the prejudices and pathologies that have infected Europe when it’s relatively easy to do so, what are the chances he’ll manage if and when it becomes difficult?

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Read more at Quillette

More about: Anti-Semitism, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK), Linda Sarsour

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy