After continuing his career-long trend of skipping the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, this time calling it a platform for those who “express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights,” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders underperformed on a Super Tuesday he was expected to dominate.
This outcome of course was driven by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar unexpectedly ending their campaigns and endorsing his rival Joe Biden the day of and after his speech at AIPAC, where he rightly observed that being pro-Israel is not remotely anti-Palestinian.
Watching Biden surge past Sanders on Tuesday provided a hint of the relief Jewish Israel-supporters around the world felt last December when they watched Jeremy Corbyn’s seemingly anti-Semitic Labour Party lose staggeringly in Britain’s elections.
Sanders and Corbyn share many progressive qualities and policies, but the comparison tends to stop short on the topic of anti-Semitism. After all, one must ask, how can a self-proclaimed “proud Jew” like Sanders be anti-Semitic?
Truth is, there is no need to label Sanders an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew; he is transparently something much more dangerous.
Like many politicians, Sanders is a power-hungry enabler who will do and say what he calculates will earn him the most votes, indifferent to the damage he inflicts.
By now, most of the Israel-supporting American Jewish community, and the Israel he visited ages ago, feel absolutely betrayed by Sanders. That should put all Americans on notice as to what kind of president we can expect if he’s elected.
Every sentence Sanders starts by referencing his Judaism ends with slanderous statements about Israel’s politicians and supporters. Consequently, these characterizations will be repeated with impunity by people and groups that have dedicated themselves to severing the U.S.-Israel bond.
Just look at the people around him, who declare their hatred time after time.
“Describing defenders of Israel as ‘scumbags,’ ‘pigs,’ and ‘bastards’ is not necessary. ‘Zionist’ is sufficently [sic] insulting.”
This was tweeted by Sanders surrogate Amer Zahr in 2015.
Recently, Zahr wrote an op-ed describing the quid pro quo relationship Sanders formed with the American anti-Zionist community. Bernie would publicly espouse their views in the name of Judaism, and in exchange, he would receive their support with the volume and rigor of a “River to the Sea” chant.
With surrogates like Zahr and activist Linda Sarsour—who was removed from the progressive Women’s March over accusations of anti-Semitism—Sanders calling anyone or anything a platform for bigotry could not be more hypocritical.
Affixing that label to AIPAC could not be more wrong.
The AIPAC Policy Conference brought together people of many races, faiths, sexual orientations, genders, national origins and political affiliations.
The only belief shared by all was that the relationship between two of the world’s strongest, most innovative and most diverse democracies must endure.
At a breakout session, a progressive Latino politician, a conservative Christian pastor and a moderate war veteran shared unique perspectives on how they saw Israel improving the world.
In the AIPAC Village, D.C.-based hip-hop artist Westside Gravy rapped fluently in English, Spanish and Hebrew about families from Sudan and friends from Iraq on a stage surrounded by displays of the cutting-edge life-saving technology that Israel wants to bring to those countries.
In the halls, the last remnants of reeling Sanders supporters could dialogue with the backers of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg and survey the nuanced approaches to achieving the common goal of all in attendance: a secure, Democratic and Jewish Israel, an ever-improving way of life for the Arab-Palestinians and a peaceful, mutually beneficial relationship between the two groups.
At the after-parties, gender-fluid pansexuals and second amendment rights activists could engage on their respective political concerns and express their voices through a shared love for America, Israel and the freedoms both countries work to provide to all people.
The shame is on Sanders.
For someone who claims to support Palestinians above all, Sanders and his BDS-backing surrogates cause quite a bit of damage to the communities in Judea and Samaria by seeking to displace the very businesses that have Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews working side by side.
Meanwhile, it is Sanders’s favorite targets, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who have advanced to a peace deal that would invest more than $50 billion toward lifting Palestinians from poverty and into economic prosperity.
The money that Palestinian leaders spit at could do wonders for the 1.8 million or so Uyghurs detained in Chinese indoctrination and forced labor camps and otherwise under surveillance for the crime of religious practice.
This was understood across the spectrum at AIPAC, as was rejection of Sanders’s attack on Netanyahu and Israel as racist.
Indeed, AIPAC’s inclusive policy conference provided a platform for nearly everyone and everything.
But for bigotry, most certainly not.
Joseph Tipograph is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.