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The New Anti-Semitism—Jews Against Bernie Sanders

leftvoice.org

As the chances of Senator Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination for presidency become real, and as the possibility of him going against Trump—and possibly, hopefully win—increases, so increases a special type of hatred against him. Shockingly, this hatred, and the strong sentiments that feed it, are generated from the most unexpected segment of the population: Jews. Especially conservative Jews. In the close circle of my social network I’ve heard him being called “Kapo” and “Self-hating Jew.” “I’d rather vote for Trump than him,” someone commented on Facebook. Just imagine what’s going on out there in the dark alleyways of the Internet.

These sentiments represent a special branch of anti-Semitism, and remind me of the atmosphere that prevailed in Israel prior to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. As led back then by Benjamin Netanyahu in the squares of Jerusalem, Rabin was called a “Nazi,” his picture dressed in Nazi officer uniform. (In a notorious Facebook post Sanders was compared to Adolf Hitler.) He was called a traitor, Rabin, while the smell of blood—of a heroic figure in Israel’s fight for independence, the crown prince of David Ben-Gurion, former Army’s chief-of-staff who dared to make peace—could be smelled in the streets for quite sometimes before he was gunned down in a Tel Aviv square, now carrying his name.

Why so? Who’s behind it? Where does it come from? You’d think that Jews, especially in Israel and in America, would know better. Would realize that it is one thing to oppose a candidate politically, not to like him or agree with his suggested policies, and therefore vote for somebody else. It is another thing, though, to spew this kind of hateful rhetoric—which, I’m afraid, will only increase as we get closer to the election—toward any political candidate, let alone a major Jewish candidate. No doubt it will help escalate the level of anti-Semitism currently existing in America. Just because a Jewish person, a politician even, sees things differently than the way we see them, doesn’t mean we have to label him a “traitor.” Doesn’t mean we should give ammunition to so many hot-headed people who hate us anyway for a myriad of reasons. He might be a different Jew than you and me; yet he is still a Jew.

And here’s what Sanders told the New York Times’ editorial board on that topic, when asked whether he believes in God. “I am Jewish. I am proud to be Jewish. I was bar mitzvahed from the Kings Highway Jewish Center, a long time ago. I am not actively involved in organized religion.” Well, just like so many Jews throughout the land, most probably the majority. In Israel, too, he would be regarded as a regular secular Israeli-Jew. In fact, Sanders had spent a few months living and working in a kibbutz back in 1963. Raise your hands please, Jews of America, how many of you have done so. Some, sure, but not many. It is one thing to dream, to talk longingly and lovingly about Israeli kibbutzim, and another thing altogether to pack your bags and go live there. Experience the experience.

Of course, another reason that sends American Jews off the wall in regard to Sanders is his support from, and close ties with, “The Squad.” In particular Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. For these American Jews that’s all the proof they need; like a deal with the devil, which only adds fuel to the fire. And while another twenty Representatives like Omar and Tlaib won’t bring Israel any closer to destruction, for many American Jews this alliance is an absolute “Trefah.” We better die than allow it to go on. God forbid a reconciliation, an understanding with Arabs and Palestinians would occur. God forbid a chance for a new road would open up. Who knows where it might lead us.

To peace maybe. Peace with the Palestinians, for instance. What a terrible idea, and possibility, for some American Jews. After all, Sanders had also said that “Israel has the right to exist, not only to exist but to exist in peace and security. But what US foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well.” Well, amen to that. However, while for Sanders to imply that he loves all mankind (hippie-like, sixties-like) is okay, for him to say that “We must be pro-Palestinian as well” is not okay. That’s another “Trefah.” He must be a traitor. Let’s hang him in the squares of the Social Network. He is not even a Jew. Let Twitter eat him alive.

Because when it comes to Israel American Jews—especially the conservative movement—are always behind the curve. If AIPAC supported Netanyahu all these years, without ever questioning his motives and policies, then so are we. If AIPAC said you are not allowed to criticize Israel in public, we won’t do that. Any form of private thoughts we might have, we better keep to ourselves. That modus operandi doesn’t, and won’t work in regard to Sanders, should he be chosen the Democratic nominee, and thereafter elected president. The “War of the Jews” will erupt. American style. You just wait and see.

Sorry to break this to you: The horrible possibility of these hateful sentiments charging further the batteries of some lunatic—whether a Jew or a non-Jew—and igniting him to take matters into his own hands and do some terrible thing, is quite real. Yes, I’m talking about another assassination; a word some people here refuse to say when it comes to Rabin’s assassination (it was just “death,” I heard a rabbi says once in public.) But the current political climate in America, fully charged already, is ripe for explosion. With some militia-type hooligans, armed to the teeth, ready to pull the trigger on a whim. We Jews shouldn’t give them any opportunity to do so.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

Hail the Jewish State; Screw Democracy!

Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

That’s the bottom line, my friends, regarding the ‘Jewish nation-state law’ the Knesset had passed last week. You can twist it in so many ways, and amend it a hundred times more, it won’t change its premise and purpose. Because, what’s in that law when you actually read it (which I have done), isn’t so drastic on first and even second reading. It says nothing about the Arab citizens of the country being relegated to a ‘second class’ status, or about their language being relegated to a ‘second language’ (other than to say that “the state’s language is Hebrew”). Or any such wording that can bluntly be blamed for being outright racist. But it says a lot about the intent of the people who fought for this law to become a ‘basic law’ in Israel.

by Avi Katz

Case in point. But wait… just to clarify: Israel has no constitution, per se, and all attempts at creating it since independence have failed. It does have the ‘Declaration of Independence,’ signed by David Ben-Gurion and other brave men and women upon declaring independence, which until now has served as the principal document—sort of constitution for Israel and its citizens—and that among other things promised “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or gender.” This historic, monumental document—written and passed under the gathering clouds of war—is now rendered almost mute by the passing of this new, infamous ‘basic law’.

And a ‘basic law’, by the way, is sort of a constitutional law in Israel. It meant to guide the legal system and it’s more difficult to repeal than regular laws. (The last sentence in this law states that “This Basic Law shall not be amended, unless by another Basic Law passed by a majority of Knesset members.”) It is, indeed, the intent of the ‘framers’ in this case as well: To enshrine it as irreversible law. And the way Israel and its population go—i.e. right and very-right of center currently, intolerant and religiously zealot—it’s here to stay. The law’s main function and purpose is to serve as a springboard for generations to come. And for actions to come. Actions that will continue to erode the legitimacy and existence—as free, equal-right citizens—of the Arab citizens of the country, and the Druzes too, together over twenty percent of the population.

You see, what this law does—more than anything else—is giving another push, a strong, decisive one forward to the forces that oppose tolerance; oppose liberal democracy; support intolerance and even ‘fascism’ of sorts. The erosion, if you will, or the march of Israel toward an autocratic-ruled, semi-Apartheid country is being moved into high gear by this law. Which at the same time kick the ball—excuse the cliché, but I enjoyed greatly the just concluded month of the World Cup—of democracy, tolerance, equality almost out of the playing field. Time will tell, of course, but the momentum of Israel founding fathers’ endeavor, and their historic, thoughtful document is gone. Thrown by the wayside.

Now back to the above mentioned “Case in point.” I am fortunate enough to receive every Friday the e-newsletter of the ‘Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest,’ in which they tell us—Jews, Israelis—all there is to know (of course, what they want you to know) related to Israel, usually with a brush of pink color, on everything that took place the previous week. And so when I opened the latest newsletter, just a day or two after passing of the ‘nation-state’ law, I was immediately drawn to one headline, titled “Israel Is the Jewish State.” Wow… Really?!… Tell me something I don’t already know. Anyway, I follow the attached link, which opened to an article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State.” Big deal. As if we didn’t know that already. As if before the passing of this law it was not the case. Or in doubt.

Just as was the case with the moving of the American Embassy to Jerusalem—which, by the way, has failed miserably so far to generate any other civilized nations (other than two small, bribed South American regimes) to join in—the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was no big deal to most Israelis. We already knew that. It meant to create problems, which indeed it brought about. (The so-called Trump administration’s ‘huge, greatest peace deal of all times’ is dead before its arrival). It meant to push back the possibility of peace with the Arabs, which it has achieved spectacularly; it meant to continue the erosion of Israel as a democratic, liberal nation.

I will not go, here and now, into the details of the law—you can easily find it yourself in countless of articles online—other than to stress that it is indeed another milestone on the road to the cliff of hell. Too strong a wording, you say? Probably. But strong actions demand strong words. So let’s try it a different way: It’s as if another heavy stone has been laid on the grave of the liberal, enlightened state Herzl—the ‘visionary of the Jewish state’—and his brave, like-minded Ben-Gurion—who envisioned Israel as a liberal, democratic state for all its citizens. A “Light to the Goyim,” if you will. But no more. Screw the ideal of liberal democracy. We are living in the real, cruel world. Ideals are meant for leftists.

And by the way, here’s an anecdote, important though: Only two members of the Knesset abstained during the vote (passed by 62 to 55). One of them was Benny Begin, a member of the governing party the Likud. Even he, the son of Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun, the founder of the Likud, the first Prime Minister of a rightwing government in Israel, couldn’t—in all his moral consciousness, (probably hearing his father rolling in his grave—vote for this law. Not in my name.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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