Linda Sarsour is Alienating Jewish Voters from Bernie Sanders
One of the many problems that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont has in his run for the presidency is the fact that so many of his campaign surrogates, high profile office holders and celebrities, are problematic people. Three-fourths of the so-called Squad, radical female House members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are in Bernie’s corner. However, exceeding even these three ladies in the depths of their extremism is a woman named Linda Sarsour,
Forward, a magazine of news and opinion-oriented toward Jewish people and issues explains.
“A controversy involving a top campaign surrogate is proving to be a setback for Sen. Bernie Sanders as he works to earn more Jewish support ahead of the Iowa Democratic caucus, less than two months away. It’s the latest example of Sanders, the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in American history, drawing anger from Jewish voters over what some see as his lack of concern for their specific communal issues.”
Sarsour recently addressed a conference held by an organization called American Muslims for Palestine. In her remarks, he suggested that the State of Israel is based on the “supremacy of Jews” which she compared to white supremacy. Neither Sarsour nor the Sanders Campaign has responded to the outcry from the Anti-Defamation League and others for that statement.
Sarsour’s statement was not only bigoted but incorrect. While Israel was established as a national homeland for the Jews, almost two million Arab inhabitants of the Jewish state are either citizens, with full civil and political rights, or residents with the right to apply for citizenship.
In any case, Sarsour, as well as members of the Squad, are presenting a problem for Bernie Sanders, considered the most successful Jewish American politician to run for president. Many Jewish voters, who might otherwise agree with Bernie’s agenda and might want to vote for him, have been turned off by the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist statements being made by surrogates like Sarsour. Thus far, Sanders has not said anything to repudiate statements by his surrogates, including the one by Sarsour suggesting that “Jewish supremacy” is the equivalent to white supremacy. It is roughly restating the old trope that Zionism is racism.
The statement is also fraught with intentioned irony. White supremacists also tend to be anti-Semites. Thus, the statement was doubly hurtful for Jews and others who abhor anti-Jewish bigotry.
Bernie’s Israel policy is somewhat problematic in any case, according to a recent story in the Jerusalem Post. While he claims to be a supporter of Israel, he has also suggested that he would cut military aid to the Jewish state to pressure it to be more forthcoming to the Palestinians. The implication is that Sanders believes that Israel is a barrier to Middle East peace and that he is willing to place its security in jeopardy to bring it to heel.
On the other hand, Sanders has called out the sort of anti-Semitism that Sarsour and other of his supporters have expressed. He was not condemned Sarsour directly nor has distanced himself from her.
What would happen if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee? Right now, he enjoys less Jewish support than other Democrats have. The Forward offers the following analysis from Aaron Keyek, the former executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
“Jews, after all, are one of the most consistent Democratic voting blocs, and are also the most anti-Trump religious group. Persuading moderate Jewish Democrats to cross the aisle and vote for the hated Trump is highly unlikely to be successful beyond a ‘handful’ of Never-Sanders voters, Keyak said. Still, enough dissenters could be costly in a swing state like Florida.”
President Trump, if he is anything, is likely the most pro-Israel American president in history. He moved the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He has recognized Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights. He has supported Israel with money and arms, especially in regards to the threat coming from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The spectacle of American Jews, nevertheless, holding their noses and voting for a candidate such as Bernie Sanders, who surrounds himself with anti-Semites and is less than supportive of Israel’s security, might be found by many to be disturbing and perplexing. The phenomenon may speak much of the attachment that many American Jews have to the Democratic Party as well for the power of Trump Derangement Syndrome.