We trust that those of our fellow Jews who are not enamored of President Trump and inclined to support any Democrat (or Independent) who will run against him, will now carefully consider the implications of the broadside Bernie Sanders aimed at AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) the other day.
Sanders released a statement Sunday explaining why he will not be attending the upcoming Washington D.C. AIPAC conference:
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference.”
But appearance at the AIPAC conference has long been a rite of passage for serious major party candidates. Have they all – including democrats – been complicit in bigotry and the undermining of Palestinian rights? Doesn’t the AIPAC conference typically draw approximately 18,000 participants who reflect a cross section of the Jewish community? Were they also acquiescing in anti-Palestinian bigotry and the denial of Palestinian rights?
While Sanders has not exactly been supportive of Israeli foreign policy before, the AIPAC episode is a watershed. He is now revealed as a determined pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel advocate who doesn’t believe there can be anything of merit in the diverse AIPAC world. In a word, he has delegitimized any point of view not in accordance with his. Of course, necessarily lost in this shuffle is the past history of contrast between an Israel interested in negotiating land for peace and Palestinians wanting it all.
This is a leap even from his having chosen the likes of Linda Sarsour, Rep. Rashid Tlaib and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as his campaign surrogates. Each never misses an opportunity to bash Israel.
But of almost equal concern than the thought of his being the Democratic nominee in November is the fact that he and the progressive/socialists he leads will have taken over the Democratic Party. Even if he fails in his election bid, his winning the nomination will cement the current, unfortunate, Republican/Democratic divide over Israel. Israel as a partisan issue is a significant problem going forward, certainly if Sanders becomes president. But it will also continue as such even if he doesn’t.
Those in our community of whatever political persuasion toying with the idea of supporting Bernie Sanders for president should think long and hard about what his winning the nomination and/or the November election would mean for Israel.