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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 an 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 Sander 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 Sander 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.

Will AIPAC Learn From Its Big Mistake?

time.com

I wouldn’t bet on it, though there are signs of progress lately. But first what is, or was AIPAC big mistake? Let me tell you: It placed its loyalty, resources and absolute trust in one leader—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—above all else. Above all principles. Above all morals. Above all other considerations and obligations to its own country, the U.S.A., where the organizations and its leaders live and operate. This duel-loyalty, which AIPAC demonstrated in Netanyahu’s case, and was rightly condemned for, carried with it some responsibility, even if not directly, to the recent increase we are experiencing in anti-Semitism sentiments and incidents, and the rise of white supremacy forces in this country.

How come, you ask, I level such a strong accusation at AIPAC? I’ll answer that by reminding you of AIPAC’s mission, “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.” By this standard, they failed miserably when they cooperated with Netanyahu and the Republican Party in Congress against a sitting American President, Barack Obama, trying to subvert his administration’s efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions by striking a deal with it, together with our European allies. Helping and facilitating Netanyahu’s trip to America, and his speech in congress—while the President and Secretary of State were working so hard to accomplish that nuclear deal—was close to being an act of treason: Choosing the leader of Israel over the leader of America, your own country.

But wait, there’s more. I see AIPAC’s unqualified support of Netanyahu—who basically overwhelmed and subverted the organization to his own will—directly responsible, among other forces of course, to the rise of Mr. Trump, his disastrous withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and, together with his American Ambassador to Israel and Netanyahu, the danger situation we find ourselves currently in the Middle East and in Israel. Its support of this Israeli leader—soon to be indicted on some very serious charges—without reservations, without questions, without critical thinking, is at fault here. Whoever is the prime minister, we support him/her they say; whatever is the policy of that prime minister, we support him/her; whatever war they are fighting there, we support it. We are not here to judge; we are here to support.

This is all fine on paper and speech, this unconditional support. Though one may ask what would AIPAC do, how it would react, if a dictator comes along in Israel? If Israel becomes an autocratic state, what then? As indeed many, yours truly among them, thought was Netanyahu and his party’s intent in the last two elections: avoid prosecution and solidify his strongman’s rule, by placing himself above the rule of law. And what if Israel would become, as many do fear—and some insist it already de facto is—an Apartheid sate? What then? Will AIPAC still support that leader, and the country unconditionally? No moral judgments? No regard to the rule of law? To human rights?

Case in point: Bibi Netanyahu. AIPAC didn’t just support him in all his endeavors, therefore solidifying the occupation of 3 million Palestinians; the building of settlements financed mainly by America and American Jewry money for 50 years now, and counting. If AIPAC is indeed in support of a “two-state solution,” as it states on his website, how was it possible that it continuously supported Netanyahu and his policies so diligently all these years? Netanyahu who did all he could—still does, in fact—to create “facts-on-the-ground” that will prevent such a solution from ever happening?

In actuality, AIPAC caved in and served as Netanyahu’s tool of solidifying his rule, agenda and West Bank’s occupation. Working without a moral compass to guide you is a dangerous way to go. And when it comes to the rise in antisemitic incidents and hatred in this country, as I pointed above, these are all contributing factors. The history of antisemitism a is long, painful, and complicated—as I pointed in my February post, titled Anti-Semitism: See Under Hate, Envy, and Israel -–but we cannot allow ourselves to overlook the sentiment, prominent especially in Europe, of animosity toward Israel and Jews for the mistreatment of the Palestinians, and for the failure to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For which AIPAC, with its blindness and policies as pointed above, carries a significant responsibility.

In a Washington Post article (March 6, 2018) by Doug Rossinowin, “The Dark Roots of AIPAC,” he writes that “The group was formed to spin positive PR after Israeli atrocities.” Somehow, I’m not surprised reading that. Though lately there’s a sign that AIPAC may have learned its lesson. Just before the Israeli first-round election in April, when PM Netanyahu announced, in a lame attempt to win a decisive win, that should he win and stay in power his first act would be to annex most of the West Bank—in opposition to international law, and even to the hawkish Trump administration, to the Palestinian aspirations obviously, and to the European Union policy—suddenly, and rarely, AIPAC issued a statement of objection as well. Breaking, in so doing, its golden rule of not ‘criticizing,’ of not ‘interfering’ in Israel’s official policies.

Well… what a major change. Even if on a ‘onetime’ basis for now. But it does signify that AIPAC might have learned from its big mistake, and has come to the realization that indeed, as a political lobbyist organization, it does need to have a moral compass after all. One hopes that, if that’s the case, it might be able to continue its good work by not only supporting Israel and its strong relation with America, but also by not giving more ammunition to the forces of anti-Semitism, and by not dividing further the American Jewish community, which is mostly liberal and democrat, from Israel.

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

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