Like Britain’s disgraced Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders panders to anti-Semites. Bernie isn’t one himself. He supports the existence of a Jewish state and has even acknowledged that anti-Zionism can overlap with anti-Semitism. He comes from a family of Holocaust survivors and spent a stint on a kibbutz in Israel. But in his presidential bid, Bernie is mainstreaming radical anti-Semitism.
Last week, four Americans were murdered in an anti-Semitic shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City whose intended target may have been a Jewish school. At first, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Sanders ally, thought there might be political gains in this attack. In an obvious attempt to implicate the Trump administration, she decried ‘white supremacy‘ as the cause of the murders. However, upon realizing that this was not a plausible explanation — the attack was carried out by followers of the Black Hebrew Israelites who admired Louis Farrakhan, she deleted her tweet — and remained strangely silent thereafter.
Tlaib brazenly dismissed the incident after it emerged that she couldn’t blame it on President Trump. This is unsurprising behavior from Tlaib, whose milieu is soaked in anti-Semitism, and whose fundraisers have been associated with terrorism.
The ‘squad’ (Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) claim to fight for justice for oppressed minorities. They are happy to call out anti-Semitism when it benefits to them. For the most part, though, the ‘squad’ cozies up to anti-Semites in order to bolster the Democrats’ radical left coalition.
Recently, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Trump anti-Semitic for saying that Jewish House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff was ‘shifty’. This is silly: the insult is obviously a pun on Schiff’s surname. It’s hard to see how this could possibly constitute Jew-hatred. Yet just weeks after accusing Trump on spurious grounds, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Jeremy Corbyn, a noted apologist for anti-Semitism, on the eve of the British election.
The reality is that the progressive left in the United States has consistently ignored Corbyn’s anti-Semitism. Bernie Sanders, the face of this movement, declared that there is a ‘real similarity between what he has done and what I have done’. Indeed, to Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn’s Stalinist takeover of the once-centrist Labour party is something to be admired. And though, unlike Corbyn, Sanders does not harbor a natural affinity for rogue states and terror groups, his most prominent supporters do.
Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour is a key surrogate for Sanders’ campaign, as well as a veteran of the BDS movement and an associate of convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh. Just last month at the American Muslims for Palestine conference in Chicago, she said that ‘Israel was built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else’ — a claim which explains why David Duke of the KKK is among those who’ve approved of her on Twitter.
Sanders recently penned an opinion piece in the left-leaning outlet Jewish Currents denouncing anti-Semitism. However, he focused almost singularly on the anti-Semitism of the right — a phenomenon for which he blames Donald Trump, the president with Jewish grandchildren. Rather than engaging seriously with the issue, Sanders’s piece reads as an attempt to vilify his potential future presidential opponent.
Why did Sanders omit his personal experiences from that op-ed? In 2015, NPR radio host Diane Rehm accused Sanders of having ‘dual citizenship with Israel’. She was citing a conspiratorial ‘list’ that had been shared on Facebook without sources by a pro-Palestinian user, and which NPR’s researchers had adopted because it flattered their prejudices.
Sanders stands idly by as his greatest cheerleaders make anti-Semitism acceptable in the United States, both on the streets and in elite circles. Ongoing violent attacks against Hasidic Jews in New York City and beyond are now almost a daily occurrence. Mostly carried out by African Americans, these crimes are awkward to discuss and receive almost no media coverage.
The uncomfortable fact is that black anti-Semitism has roots in left-wing politics in the United States. Louis Farrakhan, founder of the so-called Nation of Islam who, like the Black Hebrew Israelites, preaches about ‘Satanic Jews‘, was granted meetings with prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including President Obama.
While the black establishment has since condemned Farrakhan, either of their own volition but usually under pressure, newly prominent figures on the left maintain their ties. Tamika Mallory, formerly of the Women’s March, famously defended her support for Farrakhan because of ‘what he’s done in black communities’ and called him ‘the GOAT’, the ‘greatest of all time’. Rashida Tlaib has written an opinion piece for a publication of Farrakhan’s. Linda Sarsour spoke at a major rally of his.
Genteel prejudice against Jews has affected American policy in the past. In the Suez Crisis of 1956, President Eisenhower’s political agenda trumped concerns about the Jewish state. His administration viewed Israel as an impediment to coaxing Arab countries into the Western camp in the Cold War. The US therefore tried to stop Britain, France, and Israel intervening against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal. Eisenhower told the State Department that ‘we would handle our affairs exactly as though we didn’t have a Jew in America’. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles excused Arab anti-Semitism by arguing that their hatred stemmed from their attributing Mohammed’s assassination to the Jews. To Dulles, Nasser’s belligerent behavior was justified. The threat to Israel was ignored.
The popular narrative about American Jewish history goes that the elite aversion to Jews by the likes of Dulles would never be acceptable today. But over 60 years later, it appears that the progressive left carries this mantle. Concerns for Jewish safety on the progressive left are trivial, and in the war against the current administration, even dead Jews are fair game.
Perhaps this is to be expected among terror-sympathizing Marxists in the United Kingdom. But this is America. This is America’s first serious Jewish contender for the presidency. Sanders is the descendent of Holocaust survivors and a man who spent time living in Israel. Yet he is unfit to steer the Democratic party in the right direction — let alone lead a great nation.
Tamara Berens is a Krauthammer Fellow at Mosaic magazine in New York City.