Bernie Sanders has a complicated history with Israel. Back in the 70s, he called for denying weapons to Israel before the Yom Kippur War. His voting record on Israel in the Senate was spotty at best. He called for "aggressive normalization" with the terror state of Iran at the Democratic debate. But defenders keep mentioning that he and his anti-Israel brother Larry, who is with the Green Party in the UK, spent time at a Kibbutz in Israel.
When Bernie Sanders entered the race, there was a good deal of speculation in Israel which Kibbutz he was in. The Sanders campaign didn't seem interested in answering the question. Now we know why.
Sanders had told Yossi Melman that he had been at Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim as a guest of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement.Israel had all sorts of Kibbutzim affiliated with various political movements. Hashomer Hatzair was about as bad as it got.
Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim had been co-founded by Aharon Cohen, the Arabist, who was a regular critic of Israel and opponent of its policy. He was arrested for spying for the USSR in the 50s.
Hashomer Hatzair was a Marxist organization. While the USSR purged most Zionist and Jewish groups, they waited until 1927 to ban Hashomer Hatzair making them the last group to be outlawed. Other left-wing groups described them as Leninist and even Stalinist.
Its founder, Ya'akov Hazan, described the USSR as a second homeland and eulogized Stalin, writing how shocked he and his comrades were, "to hear of the terrible tragedy that has befallen the nations of the Soviet Union, the world proletariat and all of progressive mankind, upon the death of the great leader and extolled commander, Josef Vissarionovich Stalin. We lower our flag in grief in memory of the great revolutionary fighter, architect of socialist construction, and leader of the world's peace movement. His huge historical achievements will guide generations in their march towards the reign of socialism and communism the world over."
Al Hamishmar, the movement's paper, had a headline which read, "The Progressive World Mourns the Death of J.V. Stalin"
At the time, Stalin had been preparing his own Holocaust for the Jews of the USSR. His death saved the lives of millions of Jews.
While Hashomer Hatzair is described as Marxist-Zionist, its own position was Marxist, not Zionist. Like American Communists, it was the Communist part that mattered. Not the American part. Hashomer Hatzair contended that its cooperation with Zionists was a temporary expedient that would pave the way for a revolution.
It viewed Israel's independence as a transitional phase that would end up with a bi-national Socialist state that would destroy Israel.
Eliezer Hacohen, one of Hashomer Hatzair's ideological leaders, said, "Marxism was the key to renewing our spiritual creativity." Hashomer Hatzair pledged its allegiance to the Soviet Union.
As late as 1969, well after Bernie's 1963 visit, Dissent was describing Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim as "Stalinist".
Western lefties with a Hashomer Hatzair background include Noam Chomsky. Chomsky wrote that he was fairly close to "Hashomer Hatzair, but couldn't join because it was split between Stalinists and Trotskyites."
Bernie Sanders wasn't there because he liked Israel. Hashomer Hatzair did not like Israel. It ultimately wanted to destroy it. He was there because he was far left. Perhaps even further left than he has admitted.