The word “traitor” is thrown around far too liberally in our modern discourse. Not only are accusations of national treachery applied in the aftermath of even the most moderate disagreements, the same is often true when it comes to the ideology of identity politics. For example, African Americans who do not toe the Democratic Party line are frequently vilified as “Uncle Toms” or “House Negroes.” This behavior is quite clearly despicable to anyone who values any form of individualistic identity.
There is a layer of complexity, however, that is added when identity politics is used as a tool to claim authority on issues of race or religion as a proxy for substantive arguments. Speaking as a self-designated member of a particular group, that person is often lauded by a political movement as a physical counter-argument. For the Left, that person is nothing other than a “token” if they dare to disagree with “progressivism,” but are celebrated as a brave hero if they support their underlying political objectives.
As the prevalence of anti-Semitism on American shores grows year on year, no one has been championed as a convenient “token Jew” more than Bernie Sanders. The senator from Vermont is an atheist ethnic Jew who is willingly wheeled out to decry Israel or defend blatant anti-Semitism from within the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders exemplifies the difference between the lazy label of “race traitor” and those who cynically use their identity group as a political cudgel. For Sanders, his Jewish faith is a convenient weapon which can used to capitalize on cherry-picked instances of anti-Semitism while simultaneously dismissing politically-inconvenient forms of anti-Semitism, all to push his radical Leftist agenda.
Proof of this undeniably strong accusation lies in an essay penned by Sanders in Jewish Currents ironically titled “How to Fight Antisemitism.” The entire piece is dripping with manipulation, deception, and deflection, and Sanders should be utterly ashamed for using his self-prescribed status as a “proud Jewish American” to both absolve his political allies of their deep-seeded hatred of Jews, and advocate against the protection of Jews worldwide.
Bernie Sanders intentionally pushed the anti-semitic Leftist falsehood that anti-Semitism is solely an issue that exists on the so-called “far-Right,” and that Donald Trump is at the root of such hatred. Throughout his essay, he discussed last year’s white nationalist attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the recent foiled bomb attack on a synagogue in Colorado, and the anti-semites who marched in Charlottesville. Referencing his Jewish family members who remained in Poland and were murdered by the Nazis, Sanders wrote “I know very well where white supremacist politics leads, and what can happen when people do not speak up against it.”
As a Jew, I claim the same ethnic and religious-based authority monopolized by Bernie Sanders to call B.S.
The brutal fact is that Bernie Sanders, like every other member of the modern Democratic Party, does not care about anti-Semitism. He only cares about specific instances of anti-Semitism which play into a false narrative that the American conservative movement is motivated exclusively by bigotry. The fact that Bernie Sanders is using his non-existent Jewish faith to speak with authority on this matter, and defend non-white anti-Semites in the process, is tantamount to the prostitution of Judaism itself.
Before explaining why Sanders couldn’t care less about anti-Semitism, it’s crucial to denounce the white supremacist anti-Semitism that Sanders correctly condemned in his essay. White nationalism and white supremacy are abhorrent and immoral ideologies which should not be permitted to spread in our society.
With that said, it seems obvious to argue that if someone claims to despise and deplore anti-Semitism, then the source of that anti-Semitism should be irrelevant. As a Jew, the skin color or religious belief of the perpetrator of an anti-Semitic attack seems immaterial. However, for Bernie Sanders and his cohort of revolting bigots, the deciding factor is the skin color or religion of the perpetrators.
If Bernie Sanders cared about anti-Semitism, it seems strange that he failed to mention the epidemic of Muslim anti-Semitic attacks occurring in Europe. If Bernie Sanders cared about anti-Semitism, it seems strange that he failed to mention (while stating that “in September that anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City have risen by more than 63% in 2019 and make up more than half of all reported hate crimes”) that some of these attacks were committed by people who were demonstrably not white. Finally, if Bernie Sanders cared about anti-Semitism as he defined it – “a conspiracy theory that a secretly powerful minority exercises control over society” – then he would speak out against his own “ally” Ilhan Omar who claimed that Jews had hypnotized the world and exercise monetary control over the upper echelons of the American government. Omar even received praise for her rhetoric from former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Without the presence of obvious racial links to white supremacy or white nationalism, Bernie Sanders is silent on the topic of anti-Semitism. His silence should be damning.
What makes this essay even more despicable is that Sanders actively works to preemptively defend the blatant anti-Semites who stand at his side. Both Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Linda Sarsour have been accused on multiple occasions of peddling anti-Semitic rhetoric, and yet Bernie Sanders provides Jewish forgiveness under the banner of furthering progressivism, stating “…it’s very troubling to me that we are also seeing accusations of anti-Semitism used as a cynical political weapon against progressives.” Even though Sanders admitted that “It is true that some criticism of Israel can cross the line into anti-Semitism, especially when it denies the right of self-determination to Jews, or when it plays into conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish power,” he fails to apply this same definition to his own allies.
The irony here is unbearably obvious. Bernie Sanders condemns the use of accusations of anti-Semitism as cynical political weapons…while writing an essay which uses accusations of anti-Semitism as a cynical political weapon against conservatives. However, the final and most disgusting irony is the conclusion of this essay, where Bernie Sanders uses his authority as a “proud Jew” to advocate for the destruction of protections against Jews.
“When I look at the Middle East, I see Israel as having the capacity to contribute to peace and prosperity for the entire region, yet unable to achieve this in part because of its unresolved conflict with the Palestinians. And I see a Palestinian people yearning to make their contribution—and with so much to offer—yet crushed underneath a military occupation now over a half-century old, creating a daily reality of pain, humiliation, and resentment.”
This statement proves not only that Bernie Sanders is disingenuous in his selective rejection of anti-Semitism, but that he himself is an anti-Semite. Those with any historical understanding of the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians understand that it is not based on land. It is based upon a fundamental hatred of the Jewish people. Only the Jews can defend themselves on multiple occasions from total annihilation and be labeled as the aggressors. Only the Jews can emerge victorious from multiple defensive conflicts and have the world community expect them to return land to those who were defeated. Finally, only the Jews can be blamed for their own victimization.
Bernie Sanders’ ethnic background or supposed faith is irrelevant. It is also perfectly reasonable for Jews to criticize the policies of Israel, or to advocate for outcomes such as the “two-state solution.” However, when he uses his “Jewish faith” to advocate for our destruction, he is betraying us. If he is willing to fight against white supremacist anti-semitism, but excuse and defend all other forms of anti-semitism, then he doesn’t care about Jews. He cares about winning on the backs of Jews.
He ends his revolting essay with the line “we are all in this together.” Bernie has proved that this is simply not true.