Harold Ohayon
A Wandering New Yorker

The ‘First Jewish President’ Canard

I am immensely chagrined at the fanfare over the possibility of Bernie Sanders becoming the ‘First Jewish President’ of the United States of America. Those that champion this notion overlook the man’s deep animosity towards Israel and his apathy towards the suffering of America Jews. While Bernie Sanders’ family may be ‘ethnically’ Jewish, his actions, views and stances prove that he hardly embodies Yiddishkeit.

It’s all too trendy in today’s political climate to claim some membership to a minority group. Senator Elizabeth Warren spent years latching onto the notion that she was Native American, and Mayor Bill de Blasio spends countless news conferences reminding people that he is the father to bi-racial children. I assume being part of a minority group confers upon the individual some sort of shield against criticism in the political arena. And this is exactly what Bernie Sanders is doing with his family’s heritage.

Forgive me for being a tad harsh on the man, but I do not see him as a shining example of ‘Jewishness’. While the Soviet Union choked the life out of its Jewish communities, Bernie Sanders sang praises of this totalitarian regime while drinking shots of vodka in Moscow. Where was his Jewish identity then? Where was his cries and gestures of solidarity with Soviet Jewry? Good question, though I doubt he let the suffering of the Jewish community interfere with his honeymoon itinerary.

Bernie Sanders also has an abysmal record when it comes to Israel. He constantly attacks and demonizes the Jewish State, and then has the chutzpah to stand up and defend those who have used blatant anti-Semitic language when discussing Israel. Case in point, when Representative Ilhan Omar finally got challenged for her numerous anti-Semitic slurs, Bernie Sanders rushed to defend her. He did not care about the pain she caused the Jewish community in the United States, nor did he condemn her for spouting such vile nonsense. Instead he voiced his support for the freshman congresswoman.

Bernie Sanders has also locked arms with Linda Sarsour, a so-called activist that routinely breaks out into anti-Israel rants. She has called for a One State Solution (the eradication of Israel), she supports BDS (a movement that seeks to destroy Israel) and has embraced convicted terrorists who have the blood of innocent Jews on their hands. Hardly a friend to the Jewish people, yet Bernie Sanders has now invited her to join his presidential campaign.

Not one to miss a chance to side with anti-Semites, Bernie Sanders has also voiced support for Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour Party leader who has allowed anti-Semitism to flourish within the party’s ranks. Scandal after scandal has embroiled the Labour Party, and many point the finger at Corbyn as being the source for the upsurge in anti-Semitic views held by party members. But Bernie Sanders somehow overlooks this ongoing scandal and applauds the man who has helped make the United Kingdom a hostile place for Jews.

It is mind-numbing to see people celebrate Bernie Sanders’ ‘Jewishness’. He doesn’t have any connection to the tribe. He rejects the religious aspect of Judaism, and constantly sides with those that seek to destroy the people. How is he Jewish? Again, he trumpets this label in an attempt to gain favor with those who are fixated with labelling people. But hiding under a label does not make you a part of the community. Just as Senator Warren’s claim of being Native American didn’t confer upon her membership into the Cherokee Nation.

Being Jewish is a complex thing indeed. We are a community, we are a tradition, we are a religion. But we are not bound to blood membership like other groups. Being Jewish is far more complicated than that. To be a Jew is not the same as being Japanese or Finnish. This concept of biological “Jewishness’ was forced upon us by our enemies when they attempted to demonize and ‘Otherize’ us.  To be a Jew requires more than simply sharing genetic markers with someone. Such an oversimplification causes a great disservice to our people.

That being said, one does not need to be hyper religious or a fanatical Zionist to be ‘Jewish’. But one should have an affection, an affinity, and respect for the Jewish people, as well as a desire to preserve and protect it. Bernie Sanders, through his words, actions and alliances, has shown us all that he does not care about the Jewish community at all. Sure, he will speak about his Brooklyn days and his childhood, but he abandoned the Jewish people a long time ago and only makes such passing references to his past to elicit the Jewish vote.

Senator Bernie Sanders has proven time and again to be hostile towards Israel and indifferent towards the Jewish people. Just look at how he attacks Israel, supports her enemies and turns a blind eye to the plight facing American Jews. He loves to play up his New York Jewish upbringing, yet he has remained silent while New York Jews are constantly attacked simply for being Jewish. He is many things (an American, a Socialist…) but he is hardly Jewish. And those who wish to ignore the man’s actions and ideals and instead focus on his genetics should be reminded that our history is ripe with examples of ‘ethnic’ Jews who betrayed and backstabbed the Jewish people.

Karl Marx, anyone? Bernie Sanders ideological forefather.

Like two peas in a pod.

About the Author
Expat New Yorker living in the Land of the Rising Sun: Trekking to random parts of the globe, debating countless things under the sun, and attempting to learn to cook Korean food.
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