The New York primary keeps bubbling away on Israel stuff. Clinton is besting Bernie Sanders among New York Jews. But he is clearly pitching himself toward progressive Jews.
First, the JTA reports that Bernie Sanders’s outreach-director to the Jewish community is a young non-Zionist Jew, Simone Zimmerman. Zimmerman got thrown out of a Brooklyn synagogue last year when she demonstrated for the Iran deal against AIPAC, which was hosting a teach-in there for Brooklyn congressman Hakeem Jeffries (who voted for the deal). Zimmerman calls herself a “Jewish millennial fighting for a better world.”
In March she denounced the University of California regents’ statement that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
— Simone Zimmerman (@simonerzim) March 18, 2016
She said that Donald Trump and AIPAC are two peas in a pod. (Shidduch means match in Yiddish.)
— Simone Zimmerman (@simonerzim) March 18, 2016
JTA gives more of Zimmerman’s Israel backstory:
During the 2014 Gaza war, Zimmerman was one of the leaders of a group of young Jews that held regular protest vigils outside the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, reading the names of Palestinians and Israelis killed in the conflict.
She opposes Israel’s occupation, wants Hillel to allow participation by groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, is against Jewish federation funding for Israeli projects in the West Bank and wrote favorably of the efforts of Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-BDS group, to get “international corporations to stop profiting off human rights abuses.” (The Anti-Defamation League has called JVP one of America’s top 10 anti-Israel groups.)
“We’re paying attention to what’s happening in Israel — and we are angry,” Zimmerman said in a column on her fellow millennials in Israel’s daily Haaretz in February.
Some anti-Sanders groups already have seized upon Zimmerman’s hire, first disclosed in a JTA story published Monday, as fodder for their argument that a Sanders presidency would be bad for the Jews.
Zimmerman is clearly representative of the new generation of political Jews. They don’t want anything to do with the militarized occupying Jewish state. Her twitter feed slams the occupation again and again. She was opposed to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) while in college but has since urged that pro-BDS voices not be excommunicated, JTA says. And she celebrates the “adorable yids,” as she calls the kids pictured at the top of this post, who welcomed Sanders to Brooklyn last Friday.
Meantime, Hillary Clinton has seized on Sanders’s comments about Gaza to try to separate herself from the progressive. Rania Khalek in EI:
On Sunday morning… Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Clinton disputed Sanders’ description of Israel’s assault on Gaza as “disproportionate.” Clinton argued that “Hamas provokes Israel.”
On top of blaming Palestinians for Israel’s deadly violence, Clinton called into question the innocence of dead Palestinian civilians, arguing, “They often pretend to have people in civilian garb, acting as though they are civilians, who are Hamas fighters.”
Clinton believes that her pro-bombing policies will play well in New York. The Daily News is owned by rightwing Zionist Mort Zuckerman, who plagued President Obama on Israel, and today the paper endorsed Clinton. New Yorkers, the editorial said,
have in Clinton a superprepared warrior realist. They have in opponent Bernie Sanders a fantasist who’s at passionate war with reality.
As for the polling, Quinnipiac says that Hillary Clinton is topping Bernie Sanders among Jewish voters by 49-40. And you thought she had an African-American lead! Her overall lead among white Democrats is 50-45. So Jews skew conservative, among white voters.
LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS…………….
Total Protestant Catholic Jewish
Clinton 53% 69% 59% 49%
Sanders 40 26 32 40
Haaretz has a column from Eric Yoffie, the rightwing liberal Zionist of the Reform movement, saying “Only Hillary Clinton Truly Understands What Being ‘pro-Israel’ Means.” And slapping Sanders and Donald Trump too:
All the candidates claim they’re ‘pro-Israel,’ but that’s meaningless if they have little interest and even less capability in foreign policy issues: such candidates shouldn’t receive the support of Jewish voters.
Yesterday on National Public Radio, Andrea Bernstein, a Clinton promoter, said that supporting the Iraq war was a mainstream New York position in 2002.
there are two other problems for Clinton that come with her having been a senator from New York. The first is her Iraq war vote. It was a mainstream New York position in 2002, but never sat well with the left wing of the party that’s now on the ascendancy.
Wait, let’s be clear: the Iraq war vote cost Clinton the presidency in 2008, with that Democratic Party. Not only was it the worst single foreign policy mistake in U.S. history (as James North says); but it has been enormously costly to Clinton personally. So, why did Clinton support the Iraq war? As Bernstein says, it was a mainstream NY position. Partly, surely, because NY is the financial empire and that makes it a conservative place. But undoubtedly too, because NY is the seat of the rightwing Israel lobby, which was pushing for the war– in defiance of US Jewish opinion by and large. Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu were pushing the war as a good thing. AIPAC was pushing the war. The Israel lobby is the
To understand the pressure Clinton was under from the Israel lobby in New York, read Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a profile in courage, reflecting on his vote against the Iraq war when he voted for the Iran deal last summer. Nadler says that “my commitment to Israel” was questioned when he opposed the Iraq war. Notice how Israel’s existential threats were high in his thinking, even as he bucked the lobby:
I am also deeply disturbed that some opponents of the[Iran deal] agreement have taken to questioning the sincerity of people’s support for Israel (or their “Jewishness”, if it applies) if that person believes the JCPOA [Iran deal] is the best option we have for protecting Israel and the world from the threat of Iran as a nuclear weapon state.
Similarly, I disagree with those who suggest that Israel’s government or people must not interfere in seeking to shape American decisions on these issues, and I see such statements as a means of silencing an important part of the discussion. Israel and Israelis have an absolutely legitimate right to be concerned, given the existential threat they face, and to articulate that concern openly within the American political debate. If Iran were allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, that would represent a fundamental threat to the existence of Israel. A single nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv could destroy the homeland of the Jewish people, causing a catastrophic and irrevocable loss of Israeli lives and threatening the existence of our most important ally in the Middle East. Without Israel raising the alarm, the world might not have prioritized this threat and we would be in a weaker position than we are in today to respond to this terrifying question.
I have personally experienced this dangerous dynamic of poisonous rhetoric before, at another moment when opinion was sharply divided and some people placed politics and emotion above clearheaded thinking. When I voted against approving the use of force in Iraq, I did so not only because I was unconvinced by the justifications or arguments being made by the Bush Administration, but because of my understanding of the history and dynamics in the region. As I said at the time, Iran — not Iraq — was the real threat, and if we removed Iraq as a buffer to Iranian influence and expansionism, Israel and the United States would be left to suffer from the consequences. Suffice it to say, I took a lot of criticism for my vote, and both my American patriotism and my commitment to Israel were questioned.