My Cousin, Simone Zimmerman

Simone Zimmerman is my fifth cousin once removed. I don’t remember her. Needless to say, despite the fact that she’s a stranger to me, her widely publicized rant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has affected me greatly.

It has been suggested by columnists such as Natan Nestel in the Jerusalem Post that her attitude is the result of brainwashing at the hands of organizations like J Street and Hillel (what?), and is an example of the “chronology of the systematic subversion of America’s next generation of Jewish leaders.” An April 24th Jpost editorial even went so far as to say that “she plays the role of the so-called Jew-in-name-only”.

However, as Rich Brownstein writes in his May 1st Letter to the Editor of the JPost, Simone has profound Jewish roots and attended Jewish schools and summer camps. What I find disturbing are not her conclusions or how she reached them, but her expression of them and her main point that Bibi is presumptuous in his apparent representation of international Jewry.

First of all, the only reason that this juvenile attack on my country’s leader is not amusing or of any consequence at all is that Zimmerman was deemed qualified (though I’m now wondering why) to be the Bernie Sanders’s campaign’s Jewish outreach director. Personally, I can’t take any critic seriously whose content is so lacking that she resorts to name- calling and saying “F*** you” to Israel’s Prime Minister.

I’m interested to know what her goals on the Sanders campaign were. Was she trying to make him appealing to American Jewish voters? Because that was her job, and with her comments she failed at it. And that’s why she is suspended, notwithstanding Sanders’s own potential foreign policy.

Secondly, in regard to the content of her critique, the punch line of which is that the Prime Minister does not speak for her as a Jew- of course he does. Despite the fact that Bibi is not her directly elected leader, the Prime Minister of Israel is the de facto leader of the Jewish people, for better or for worse. It’s easy to throw stones from Berkeley to Jerusalem, and pretend to take responsibility for Israel’s conduct, because she doesn’t have to live with the life and death consequences of her unsolicited criticisms. If she doesn’t like that, she can come to Israel and vote.

About the Author
Born to a French mother and American father, Batya came to Israel at a young age. Upon graduating high school in Israel, she spent her military service in the IDF's Foreign Press Branch. She now studies International Relations and Political Science (B.A.) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lives in Jerusalem with her beautiful daughter.
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