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Sanders’s recent woes have brought joy to the Israel lobby

on 22 Comments

As we’ve frequently noted, Bernie Sanders is the most forthright critic of Israeli human rights violations in the presidential field. His outspokenness in taking on Benjamin Netanyahu during the 2016 New York primary and opposing attacks on Gaza has made him a target of Israel advocacy groups, and therefore his recent woes at the polls have been extremely gratifying to Israel supporters.

Democratic Majority for Israel spent $1.4 million against Sanders and is just about doing an end zone dance. DMFI’s ceo, Mark Mellman, claimed victory over Sanders in the name of American Jews in an interview with Israel’s i24 News:

The data we have on American Jews says very clearly that they much prefer Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders was doing less well among Jewish Democrats than among almost any other segment of the Democratic Party. So I think Jewish Democrats are going to be very happy and pro-Israel Democrats are going to be very happy with the Joe Biden nomination. They would have been pretty upset about Bernie Sanders as the nominee.

The reality is [Sanders] has been very hyperbolic and very hostile and bellicose in his language against Israel, and really most importantly surrounded himself with the most anti-Israel and even antisemitic voices in the Democratic Party. He has made them officials of his campaign, he has promoted them, and he has absolutely refused to disassociate himself even from their antisemitic words.

The truth is that Sanders, who is Jewish, is in essence a liberal Zionist; he supports Israel’s right to exist, presumably as a Jewish state. DMFI is plainly worried that Sanders’s rise has the effect of politicizing what has been bipartisan support for Israel. DMFI is linked to the rightwing Israel lobby organization AIPAC, and so it was displeased by Sanders’s refusal to speak to the AIPAC conference earlier this month, when he wrote AIPAC off as a bigoted group.

Biden and other leading Democrats spoke at AIPAC. Biden said that it’s “dangerous” and against the U.S. interest for Israel support here to become politicized.

Joe Biden, in his video to the Israel lobby group AIPAC. March 1, screenshot.

Sanders opposes BDS, the nonviolent campaign to boycott Israel over human rights violations, but many in his progressive Democratic following support BDS as real progressive action. Doing so makes them “antisemitic” in DMFI’s eyes. DMFI also claims that it is “hateful” to say that Zionism is “racist.” And it has falsely characterized Sanders supporter Rep. Rashida Tlaib as seeking to erase Israel.

After the young anti-occupation Jewish group IfNotNow endorsed Sanders on March 11, DMFI characterized the organization as a “fringe group” and anti-Zionist. (DMFI was angered by IfNotNow’s protest methods aimed at Biden.)

Once again @BernieSanders — who says he is pro-Israel — touts the endorsement of a fringe group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in any borders…

The news network CNBC cites DMFI’s $1.4 million effort against Sanders in its report that Democratic megadonors had been planning to start a PAC to defeat Sanders but aren’t doing so now because they’re satisfied by Sanders’s stumbles.

Joe Biden’s recent string of primary victories appears to have satisfied wealthy donors who were discussing the creation of a super PAC aimed at pushing Sen. Bernie Sanders out of the race.

Instead, it appears they will hold off on engaging in an all-out assault on Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who shuns wealthy donors.

CNBC cites Bernard Schwartz, “a vocal opponent of Sanders since the start of the election.” Schwartz has given to many establishment liberal causes, as well as to an Israeli university.

In contrast to Sanders, Biden has a record of sometimes-fawning support for Israel. “Send a message to Bibi, I love him,” he once said at an Israel lobby event. He describes himself as a Zionist, brags that he went to Israel on his first trip as a senator in 1973 when he studied regional politics at the knee of Golda Meir, and so on.

Ahead of the Florida primary, Dan Shapiro, Obama’s former ambassador to Israel (who now heads an Israel lobby group), penned an article for the Sun-Sentinel reminding voters of Biden’s support for Israel. The headline of the article could have been: Biden won’t be like Obama! Obama never felt deep love for Israel, it was said at the time, but Shapiro says, “No issue brings out Biden’s passion” more than Israel.

No issue brings out Biden’s passion more than his commitment to the U.S. partnership with Israel. He has worked with every Israeli prime minister from Golda Meir to Benjamin Netanyahu, establishing real, personal, decades-long friendships. He sees in Israel an essential security partner to the United States, frequently stating that “if we did not have an Israel in the Middle East, we would need to invent one, for all the ways it serves U.S. interests.”

As U.S. Ambassador to Israel, I saw the depth and breadth of Biden’s commitment. He visited the county repeatedly, exuding warmth and care. Together with President Obama, he fought to ensure that Israel always had the means to defend itself from the wide range of threats it faces, from terrorism to ballistic missiles, including funds to deploy the lifesaving Iron Dome missile defense system and a 10-year, $38 billion agreement on U.S. military assistance.

Shapiro promises that Israel won’t get politicized under Biden’s watch:

For Biden, Israel is personal. He has spent his entire career speaking out against every attempt to delegitimize Israel or question its right of self-defense, whether in international institutions or from those who advocate boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) on American campuses. He has worked with Democrats and Republicans to keep support for Israel bipartisan and prevent it from becoming a political football.

Though Biden is committed to taking steps “toward a two-state solution,” Shapiro assures us, Israelis “know they are talking to a man who would put everything on the line to ensure Israel will always be a strong, secure, Jewish, and democratic state.”

Sanders has made gestures to placate Israel supporters, including speaking of his own time on a kibbutz in the 1960s. Sanders has a very mainstream Democratic Jewish liaison aide in Joel Rubin, and Rebecca Pierce’s article at the JTA saying that Sanders’s social justice agenda fulfils a Jewish tradition of “social action” tries to keep pro-Israel voters on board.

While some Jewish voters may be concerned about Sanders’ criticism of Israel, which falls pretty squarely into a Liberal Zionist framework, it’s important to understand it as part of his broader anti-war foreign policy…

As Trump paves the way for the annexation of settlements and threatening to further destabilize the Middle East by instigating conflict with Iran, we need a candidate whose foreign policy is built on pursuing peace and justice for all, even when we find that challenging. And while many Jewish voters may not share his critique of Israel or AIPAC, he represents a growing share of our community, especially among young people, who see the only path to peace as one of justice.

She says that Jews line up with Sanders on many social issues:

[H]e opposed the Iraq War, fought to protect social security, advocated environmental protection and refused to be beholden to the corporate interests that have destroyed American working communities. While he’s often branded a radical, many Americans, including many U.S. Jews, support these policies on paper even if they don’t personally subscribe to his democratic socialist ideology.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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22 Responses

  1. JohnSmith on March 17, 2020, 2:16 pm

    Gosh, how wonderful to be the gleeful Israel lobby! While I personally greatly hope for a Biden presidency, because Trump, Biden is an old, old man and his views on Israel were set during the pro-Israel propaganda days of the early 1970s.

    As Israel’s apartheid becomes ever more stark and obvious in its cruelty and bigotry, it will be just super-terrific for the Israel lobby to hang on to an ever-decreasing number of batshit-crazy hardline Israel supporters.

    Because the world never changes and the pressures on Israel to show decency and some level of bare humanity will never increase, and there’s no such thing as science, facts, or gravity!

    So let’s all have a super-terrific Israel lobby party with balloons and clowns at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum Of Tolerance, which totally, totally had to be built by bulldozing a Muslim graveyard! We can join the Israel lobby in celebrating the I.D.F. and its population of youthful knee-shooting, eye-shooting, murdering war criminals! What fun!

  2. Misterioso on March 17, 2020, 2:51 pm

    “Mark Mellman, claimed victory over Sanders in the name of American Jews in an interview with Israel’s i24 News..”

    Mark Mellman and his rabid Zionist ilk are American traitors. Their allegiance to “Israel” far exceeds their allegiance to the United States.

  3. Misterioso on March 18, 2020, 10:07 am

    “Angela Davis calls to unite anti-racist struggles for Israeli Apartheid Week 2020”

    BDS, March 16/20

    “With our oppressors uniting, it’s increasingly clear that all our struggles for freedom are interconnected, and that no one will be free until we are all free.”

    “U.S. civil rights leader Angela Davis said in a statement:

    “It is inspiring to see that during these dire times when fascism and far-right political parties are ascendant in many countries, consciousness is growing amongst many, and people and organisations are coming together to fight against racism and all forms of discrimination. And for those everywhere struggling against racism and for freedom, the Palestinian people continue to serve as an inspiration because they have endured and remained steadfast for so long, refusing to give up and accept permanent subjugation and injustice.

    “In Palestine, the US, Arab countries, Latin America and Asia, the people who are seeking to maintain systems of oppression and racial domination are sharing ideologies, strategies and weapons. For example, police strategies have been trans-nationalized, with US and Israeli police departments exchanging tactics. And the global prison industrial complex is being tested in its most extreme forms in Palestine.

    “Everywhere, activists on the ground are seeing these connections and they are challenging them. In 2014, during the Ferguson uprising in the US, as those protests erupted, it was Palestinian activists who were the first to express solidarity and, as such, helped to develop a global solidarity movement for Black Lives Matter. Palestinians in turn have taken explicit inspiration from the US civil rights movement, and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in developing their BDS movement.

    “With our oppressors uniting, it is becoming increasingly clear that all our struggles for freedom are interconnected, and that no one will be free until we are all free.

    “Given these realities, the overlap this year between the global annual Israeli Apartheid Week, and the UN’s annual International Day for the Elimination of Racism is fitting. It provides an opportunity for highlighting these connections, and for progressive groups to join forces in the struggle against racism and for freedom.

    “If justice is indivisible, it follows that our struggles against injustice must be united. I wholeheartedly endorse Israeli Apartheid Week 2020 under the theme United against Racism, and call for groups and individual worldwide to participate.”

  4. genesto on March 18, 2020, 1:01 pm

    Bernie will soon be gone again, thanks in great part to the strength of the Israel lobby. (Where are you on this now, Noam?) But, once again, the battle for Palestinian justice within the American government will not end. Biden ‘loves’ Israel, or so he says. But, Uncle Joe is very pliable and will respond to political pressure as much as does any old-school politician. Once again, it’s up to us to keep pressuring Congress and the president to acknowledge how our support of Israel’s crimes against non Jews, especially Palestinians, adversely affects our country’s interests in the Middle East and beyond.

    The conversation has certainly advanced from what it was just 4 years ago. With our combined efforts, it will continue to do so until justice is finally done.

    • Misterioso on March 18, 2020, 1:27 pm


      Well and truly stated!!

      Eventually, America will have to sever its “special relationship” with “Israel.”

      • genesto on March 18, 2020, 6:51 pm

        Thanks. Gotta keep our chins up.

        This has been, and will continue to be, a very long battle!

  5. James Canning on March 18, 2020, 1:22 pm

    Trump encourages Israel to grow its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, with a view toward subsequent illegal “annexation”. Biden opposes such activity. Getting Trump ejected from the White House is the most important issue of the day, in my view.

    • annie on March 18, 2020, 3:07 pm

      james, what difference does biden opposition make if he doesn’t do anything about it, which i doubt he will. what did obama do about it when it came down to it? he didn’t do anything in the security council until he was headed out the door. and during his 2 terms, the state department pulpit was used to defend israel again and again. here’s an example how, from 2011.

      note how the US could have stuck with the original plan, the quartet plan, which israel originally agreed to, to submit proposals, netanyahu flips and what does the US do? goes along with israel. (see press briefing)

      we all know israel was never going to submit a proposal for borders once they got their way, when they got them together in one room. then borders got shoved down the road, to “final status issues” (kerry’s words), and they never got to a final stage. and there were no repercussions for israel whatsoever. because the US doesn’t do sticks with israel, only carrots.

      there’s a lot more in the comment section of that article. we watched this drag out in slow motion drip drip drip. what makes you think biden would be any different?

      • James Canning on March 18, 2020, 6:14 pm

        Annie, I think Trump would be much more likely to remain in the White House if his opponent is Bernie Sanders. Given the level of campaign finance provided by the Jewish community in the US, does Biden have any choice in the matter (regarding his comments noted by Phil, etc.)?
        Yes, Obama buckled under the pressure, and was afraid even to allow Jimmy Carter to address the Convention, in person.

        Biden regards the illegal Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as illegal. Trump clearly would be happy to call them legal.

      • echinococcus on March 18, 2020, 9:42 pm

        ” I think Trump would be much more likely to remain in the White House if his opponent is Bernie Sanders”

        Sanders is nothing to write home about, but he can command at least a semblance of electability.

        Whereas Biden as a presidential candidate is a godsend to Trump, who will make mincemeat of him in a couple minutes, first for the clinically obvious dementia — speeches, when they are like Biden’s, are perfectly valid in lieu of formal tests. Second, for proved and confessed gross Mafia-style corruption to the tune of millions (for the visible part of it already.) Both of these cannot be ironed out or painted over, except for the Dim media for the fraction of devoted Dims who will swallow bullshit even though they know, deep down, they know their feelgood propaganda is a stinking, steamy pile of bovine manure.

  6. James Canning on March 19, 2020, 2:10 pm

    Echinococcus, your belief Sanders has a better chance to defeat Trump is very much not in accord with most expert opinion.

    • echinococcus on March 19, 2020, 3:32 pm

      It’s precisely “expert” opinion and whoever listens to it that kills you. Cite one case in which “expert opinion” was right — if publicized on US media. “Expert opinion” is generally diametrically opposed to considered, documented opinion in anything scientific at any rate, as for “social science”… it ain’t.

      Anyway, I never said Sanders has a chance to beat Trump. If that is how you read “he can command at least a semblance of electability”, I apologize for the perceived inaccurateness.

      I meant that he is a halfway plausible figure when discussing a candidate likely to get a large vote from most Demolicans and a respectable number of independents/third-party people in a US two-candidate election (his job being, anyway, that of bringing back the disgruntled to the Democrat fold, after which he can once again go on campaigning for the Clinton Harpy.) None of the Dim candidates, including Sanders, have even a dim chance of beating Trump anyway.

      Biden way less than any others, for the reason cited.

      Or you may try to tell me that a majority of people voting Democrat (not just the true-blue fanatics) will be able to ignore clinically manifest, galloping, full-blown senile dementia and a self-confessed, indicted case of mafioso corruption even after it is pointed to them by someone who commands enough attention in the media, with abundant proof. If yes, the sheeple are even worse than what I, of all people, think of them.

      Nothing is impossible, of course.

      • James Canning on March 20, 2020, 2:55 pm

        Joe Biden, a foreign policy expert surely, opposed Obama’s US surge in Afghanistan. I think he was correct in so doing.
        I much prefer Bernie Sanders’ attitude toward Israel, to that of Joe Biden. But the crucial matter this year is getting Trump out of the White House for the sake of world peace.

      • echinococcus on March 21, 2020, 12:55 am

        “But the crucial matter this year is getting Trump out of the White House for the sake of world peace”….

        .. and replace him with an even worse warmaker. Yes, there are such, worse than the worst. Obama, the Clinton Harpy, and some intimate colleagues of theirs, like Biden.

        Anyway, I’ll be surprised if the Owners of the Country definitively settle on Biden, now that he cannot hide either his galloping dementia or his Burismafia affair. Are they so sure that they are strong enough to screw us in plain daylight, no vaseline, even when Trump makes a big stink? Do you see that much trust by the Owners in their new system that they can really abandon every last pretense? Something to call back the Harpy may happen soon. “And, back by public popular demand…. the Blood-sucking Nightmare!” Wanna bet?

      • RoHa on March 21, 2020, 2:28 am

        Many of us thought that Trump in the White House would be a bit more helpful for world peace than his opponent, on the grounds that he seemed slightly less enthusiastic about starting a war with Russia. And he hasn’t started a war with Russia, so far.

        I’m not convinced that replacing him with an Alzheimer’s patient will improve things much.

      • Mooser on March 21, 2020, 1:56 pm

        ” a majority of people voting Democrat…will be able to ignore clinically manifest, galloping, full-blown senile dementia and a self-confessed, indicted case of mafioso corruption even after it is pointed to them by someone who commands enough attention in the media, with abundant proof.” “Echin”

        Well, well, when “Echin” read that the ‘profile’ system had been dropped, he found a reason “to keep coming back here, isn’t it?”

    • catalan on March 19, 2020, 10:57 pm

      “your belief Sanders has a better chance to defeat Trump is very much not in accord with most expert opinion.”
      I don’t understand the focus on personality and “defeating Trump”. The democratic proposals – such as providing free healthcare, housing and a guaranteed job to any illegal immigrant (and opening the border); the forgiveness of student loan debt (and sticking it to idiots who paid theirs); the breakup of America’s largest companies; and endless tax increases to pay for more government waste – should be enough reason to not vote for them, since they approach madness.

      • James Canning on March 20, 2020, 2:59 pm

        Catalan, I doubt much of what you mention as serious proposals will actually become law, in the event Trump is ejected from the White House. I worry more about idiotic Trump actions including building more nukes.

  7. James Canning on March 21, 2020, 12:10 pm

    Echinococcus, you appear unaware of Trump’s reckless decision to build more nukes – – small ones, easier to use supposedly! And easier to set off cataclysmic world war. Idiocy, on the part of Trump.

    • echinococcus on March 21, 2020, 8:40 pm

      Canning, you appear blissfully aware that none of Trump’s decisions are Trump’s, just as none of Obama’s were his. Idiocy? No. He knows how to stay alive: shut up and do whatever you are told by your Owners.

      The only difference is in what they say not what they do, and only total morons listen to what they say: Trump made some noises against international aggression while practicing it. Bush and the bloodsucking Clinton Harpy made enthusiastic noises totally approving intervention and WWIII. Obama and Sanders made some forked-tongue messages approving both aggression and some theoretical non-aggressive-aggression.

      All decision are made by the Owners of the country and implemented by their Single Party state machine.

      By the way, if you’ve been paying attention smaller nukes and the authorization to use them were first mentioned by Bush Fils, then seriously invoked by a certain Obama and his Harpy. Short memory. Trump brought it to logical fruition.

  8. James Canning on March 23, 2020, 11:48 am

    I see nothing “logical” about Trump’s idiotic decision to build more nukes, with a view toward facilitating initiation of nuclear war. His profound ignorance clearly played a key role here.

    • echinococcus on March 24, 2020, 12:04 am

      Who said “logical”? Bringing to logical fruition some policy started previously is not necessarily logical — in fact, most of the time it’s the diametrical contrary; please quote accurately. Now, Trump is just following and expanding Obama’s policy of investing one trillion in nukes for renewal & upgrade, Bush & Obama’s policy of putting up for discussion the ban on the use of nuclear weapons (to be lifted for the US and the Zionist entity only, of course) and the Harpy’s announcement on the new place of smaller, “tactical” nukes. Check all that and please don’t deflect.

      The only thing logical here is that not one of Bush, Obama, la Clintonna or Trump are deciding anything. That’s the central point of it all.

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