Leftist attorney and lifelong Democrat Alan Dershowitz recently condemned Senator Bernie Sanders for having campaigned in support of Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn in the British election. “There is no doubt that Corbyn and his Labour Party are at the very least tolerant of anti-Semitic rhetoric, if not peddlers of it,” wrote Dershowitz, noting “Corbyn’s association with some of the most rancid anti-Semites.” “There are two reasons,” Dershowitz added, “why Sanders would campaign for an anti-Semite: 1) he has allowed Corbyn’s socialism to blind him to his anti-Semitism; 2) he doesn’t care about Corbyn’s anti-Semitism because it is not important enough to him.”
Dershowitz was correct on both counts, and the roots of Sanders’ views regarding Israel and the Jewish people can be traced back to his youth.
After college, in 1963, Sanders lived and worked for a number of months in an Israeli kibbutz known as Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim (KSH), which was co-founded by an Israel-hating Arabist who had previously been arrested as a Soviet spy. The founders of KSH uniformly revered Joseph Stalin, and the Zionist-Marxist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair (HH), which hosted Sanders at the kibbutz, was devoutly loyal to the Soviet Union. As Daniel Greenfield notes, a number of left-wing groups described HH as “Leninist and even Stalinist.” Moreover, says Greenfield, HH made it plain that “its cooperation with Zionists was a temporary expedient” designed to help “pave the way” for a socialist revolution, and that it “viewed Israel’s independence” as nothing more than “a transitional phase” in the development of “a bi-national socialist state” that would eventually “destroy Israel.”
If we fast-forward to the present day, we find that Sanders considers Israeli intransigence to be the principal cause of disharmony and violence in the Middle East. In a speech he gave at a February 2017 conference hosted by J Street, for instance, he called for an end to Israel’s “50-year occupation” of “Palestinian territories,” suggesting that “its daily restrictions on the political and civil liberties of the Palestinian people runs contrary to fundamental American values.” In addition, Sanders likened the Palestinians who had fled their homes shortly before Israel’s establishment in 1948, to Native Americans. “Like our own country, the founding of Israel involved the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people already living there, the Palestinian people,” he said. “Over 700,000 people were made refugees.”
In 2015, Sanders enthusiastically supported the nuclear deal that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran—an agreement allowing the terrorist regime in Tehran to inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. Notwithstanding these undeniable realities about an accord that would inevitably make Israel vulnerable to an attack by the one nation whose government had candidly vowed to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the earth, Sanders saw the deal as “the best way forward.”
In early April 2016, Sanders’s presidential campaign hired a young woman named Simone Zimmerman as its national Jewish outreach coordinator. Two years earlier, Zimmerman had helped lead a group of young Jews in regular protest vigils outside the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. In 2015 she had written a Facebook post denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a mass-murderer and “an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole.” Further, Zimmerman has demanded that Hillel chapters allow participation by groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative which aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state. And she has lauded the work of Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-BDS group, in fighting Israel’s “human rights abuses.” “We’re paying attention to what’s happening in Israel — and we are angry,” Zimmerman wrote in a February 2016 column. “… The problem is nearly 50 years of occupation. The problem is rampant racism in Israeli society. The problem is attacks on human rights defenders by extremists and by the state. The problem is a Jewish establishment that ignores or justifies all of this.”
In July 2016, Senator Sanders invited Paul Bustinduy, the Secretary of International Relations of the Spanish far-left, pro-BDS political party Podemos – which belongs to a leftist coalition called United We Can (UWC) – as his guest at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Historian Ronald Radosh notes that UWC: (a) “models itself on the Marxist Greek party Syiriza which brought the Greek economy to near total collapse,” and (b) is “composed of old Communists, Trotskyists, independent revolutionaries, Basque and Catalan nationalists, leftist urban intellectuals and former supporters of the Socialist Party annoyed at what they perceive as its continuing compromises.” Describing Podemos, meanwhile, as “blatantly anti-Semitic,” Radosh writes: “In Madrid the [Podemos] Party’s affiliate is called Ahora Madrid. The head of Madrid’s department of culture, Guiller Zapata, who is a [Podemos] member, tweeted: ‘How do you fit five million Jews in a SEAT 600? [a version of the Fiat car of the same name] Answer: In an ashtray.’ … Podemos is so anti-Israel, that it defends publication of a notorious anti-Semitic Spanish magazine, El Jueves [which once published a cartoon] about Israel, using the symbols of Hitler’s SS to indicate that Israel is composed of Nazis.”
Bernie Sanders has a very ugly track record vis à vis Israel and the Jewish people. Thus it is hardly a surprise that he would throw his political support behind Jeremy Corbyn.