Why I’m Still a Zionist for Bernie Sanders

I’ve been an admirer of Senator Sanders for well over a decade.  When I came to the conclusion that the US has become an oligarchy with systems rigged in favor of multi-national corporations at the expense of the people, I found that Bernie Sanders was one of the only people in Congress who not only agreed with me, but addressed this corruption on a regular basis. Needless to say I was thrilled when he decided to not only run for President of the United States, but to do so as a Democrat in order to use the system against itself. Initially I felt that even if he didn’t win, he’d successfully bring about a much needed microscope on the political goings on in this country. He’s certainly done that and more.  Then I realized he could actually win, though the DNC has done a pretty thorough job at rigging these elections as we saw in Iowa, Illinois, and today in Arizona.

As the election cycle progressed, I joined Bernie advocacy groups on Facebook to share information and to share the excitement with others who recognized the changes that must take place in this country.  Everything was going along fine, until Israel came up. Generally it was just a few people who were decidedly vocal in their demonization of Israel.  This has been typical among certain factions of the left-wing and I’ve grown used to it.  The groups’ admins would usually put a stop to the screeds by deleting a post.  I always tried to convey that Bernie is a Zionist too (someone who supports Israel’s right to exist as the Jewish homeland) and he would not advocate demonization of one side as these people who’ve become known as the regressive left tend to do.

Bernie is, after all, someone who is proud to be Jewish. Bernie has visited Israel many times and he did what many young Jews of the 60s, 70s and 80s did, he lived on a kibbutz. Bernie is someone whose family fled Europe when they saw the way the tide was turning against Jews.  Bernie, perhaps better than most, understands the need for Israel to exist as a safe-haven for Jews.  At the same time, Bernie is someone who understands that the status quo cannot continue and though I disagree with his apportionment of blame, ultimately he sees that both Jews and Palestinians deserve self-determination in that part of the world, a philosophy I share.

Jews should not have to live as victims of terror attacks and rocket attacks, and Palestinians should also be spared from war when Israel defends itself.  I think both people just want the basics — they want to feed their families, have a roof over their head, a life with purpose and serenity.  The leaders on both sides are the ones ruining it for everyone else, though at least the Israeli government tends to change on a regular basis.

Then came the AIPAC event.  The anger that many Bernie supporters voiced at Hillary’s words at the event was excessive and extreme.  I’m no Hillary fan and I honestly don’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth, but the words she did say at the AIPAC event were accurate.  Israel does need to maintain a qualitative military advantage or they’d be decimated.  The Palestinian leadership has failed their own people by continuing to vow to wipe Israel off the map instead of accepting Israel’s existence and working things out from that foundation.  Nothing she said was too extreme, but you wouldn’t know that by the reaction of certain Bernie supporters.  They claimed she was advocating for war by her words.  They actually believe that Netanyahu seeks war.  I had to remind them that Israel is a small country and the leadership never wants war because their own sons and daughters are the ones who have to fight in those wars.  These Bernie supporters equate Netanyahu and his government with Republican war hawks — and Netanyahu is partially to blame for making support for Israel a partisan issue.

This presumption couldn’t be further from the truth, but never mind attempting to educate them.  When I made that futile attempt, I think troll was the nicest thing I was called.  These people apparently haven’t heard a word Bernie has said about Israel and they attempt to paint him as anti-Israel when he’s not.  It was truly disturbing and it was something I wished that Bernie Sanders himself could see because I think he’d be angry at the hate they were spewing.

Being attacked like that might dissuade some Zionist Bernie supporters from sticking with Team Bernie, but not me.  I’m still feeling the Bern and the reason I am is because I still know that Bernie is the best choice we have for President of the United States.  Bernie is a very strategic thinker and I think that’s exactly what’s needed in both the domestic and foreign-policy arenas.

Domestically, same ol’, same ol’ just isn’t working.  The corporations run the show and that spills over into the foreign arena and has caused so many of the problems we are seeing today, ISIS being front and center, which has very negatively affected Israel and the world. Now imagine a Bernie presidency that isn’t beholden to the oil cartels (most of whom are enemies of Israel) and understands the importance of effect climate change has on our standards of living and economies worldwide. Now imagine that Bernie could address the problem of terrorism and the problem of climate change in one fell swoop. He can. Bernie can institute policies that will make oil obsolete and push for renewable energy to overtake the oil industry with a viable deadline.  Bernie can introduce meaningful incentives to companies creating renewable energy and products that utilize renewable energy, to consumers who purchase renewable energy and renewable energy products, and introduce a world treaty to get off oil completely.  How do you think ISIS would fund itself it that were to happen?  How do you think Saudi Arabia or Iran would continue being the biggest exporters of terror in the world if the source of the wealth that enables them to do that dried up?  How do you think the countries of the Middle East would start acting if they no longer controlled the world’s economies?  Bernie is the absolute best thing that could happen for Israel, for America, and for the world, and that’s why I continue to support him, despite some of his idiotic, brain-dead followers.

About the Author
Debbie Hall is a writer and activist living in the diaspora.
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