Bernie Sanders Is Not an Enemy of the Jewish People. But Neither Is He a Friend

February 13, 2020 | Yossi Klein Halevi
About the author: Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He is the author of Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation (2013), which won the Jewish Book Council’s Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award.

Now that Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire primary, and came in second, by a hairsbreadth, in the Iowa caucuses, the possibility seems greater that the aging Jewish radical could become the Democratic nominee for the presidency. Citing the troubling parallels to the takeover of Britain’s Labor party by Jeremy Corbyn and his fellow hard-left anti-Semites, Yossi Klein Halevi believes such an outcome would be nothing short of disastrous for American Jews: :

Bernie Sanders . . . has repeatedly affirmed his support for Israel’s right to exist, though he is far more equivocal about its right to defend that right. We all know about his time on a kibbutz. . . . But more than any other leading politician, Sanders is responsible for mainstreaming the Corbynist wing of the Democratic party. The party’s anti-Zionists, like Linda Sarsour, have gathered around Sanders. And Sanders himself supported Jeremy Corbyn—ignoring the fears of British Jews, who overwhelmingly saw Corbyn as an anti-Semite. . . . Under President Sanders, those still-renegade voices within the Democratic party would have intimate access to the White House.

And then there’s the video clip of Sanders, taken during his Soviet honeymoon in 1988, sitting bare-chested in a sauna and toasting Soviet officials. That astonishing scene portrays a Jew indifferent to his people’s torment [under Soviet tyranny]. Bernie Sanders is not an enemy of the Jewish people. He simply doesn’t care enough about Jewish concerns to be considered a friend.

President Sanders would be taking office at a time when the stakes could not possibly be higher for Israel. The current low-key Israel-Iran war could transform at any moment into a full-scale, multi-front regional conflict. The IDF has repeatedly warned that, in the next phase of this ongoing war, tens of thousands of missiles and rockets will fall on Israeli cities. Israel, according to the IDF, will respond with a massive invasion of southern Lebanon and the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure. The Israeli counterattack could widen to include targets in Iran itself.

In that entirely realistic scenario, whose side would President Bernie be on?

Read more on Times of Israel:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now