The 2020 election process is proof we live in curious times, and not just because a socialist who’s never held a proper job in the private sector is now the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Rather, it’s the fact that a man who uses the most openly anti-Semitic legislator since Theodore Bilbo as a campaign surrogate is now accusing a lobbying group that supports pro-Israel policies of promoting “bigotry.”
In a tweet Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced he wouldn’t be attending the political conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Fair enough.
In making the announcement, however, Sanders threw out plenty of chum for the BDS crowd, yet again tacitly accusing the Benjamin Netanyahu government of racism and violation of human rights.
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights,” the Democratic front-runner wrote.
”For that reason I will not attend their conference.”
The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference. 1/2
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 23, 2020
“As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region,” he added.
As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region. 2/2
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 23, 2020
As The Hill notes, Sanders has frequently criticized the Netanyahu government as “right wing” and “racist.” This apparently extends to AIPAC, which supports the state in general (and therefore Netanyahu).
During the fifth Democratic debate last year, Sanders tried to package his position on the matter as being not just “pro-Israel” but “pro-Palestinian” as well.
“Israel has — and I say this as somebody who lived in Israel as a kid, proudly Jewish — Israel has the right to exist, not only to exist but to exist in peace and security. But what U.S. foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well,” he said, according to the Times of Israel.
“We must understand that right now in Israel we have leadership under Netanyahu, who has recently, as you know, been indicted for bribery, who, in my view, is a racist. What we need is a level playing field in terms of the Middle East, which addresses the terrible crisis in Gaza, where 60 percent or 70 percent of the young people are unemployed.”
On Sunday, AIPAC condemned Sanders for his “odious attack” and noted a certain richness in his announcement that he wouldn’t be attending its annual policy conference.
“Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment,” the group said in a tweet.
“In fact, many of his own Senate and House Democratic colleagues and leaders speak from our platform to the over 18,000 Americans from widely diverse backgrounds — Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Christians, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, progressives, Veterans, students, members of the LGBTQ+ community — who participate in the conference to proclaim their support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” AIPAC continued.
“By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel. Truly shameful.”
Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 24, 2020
Harsh though that may be, AIPAC did Sanders a kindness by neglecting to mention one name: Ilhan Omar.
The Minnesota congresswoman has been one of Sanders’ most vocal surrogates on the campaign trail. She’s also an anti-Semite who barely apologizes whenever she decides to let her bigot flag fly.
Here’s an adumbrated version of Omar’s impressive history of anti-Semitism:
• In 2012, during her time in Minneapolis city politics, Omar tweeted: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” The idea that Jewish people can “hypnotize” others is an anti-Semitic trope, of course.
• In February 2019, shortly after being sworn in as a congresswoman, Omar tweeted that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” again putting forth the trope that Jewish money controls policy.
• When asked who was paying these politicians off, she responded “AIPAC!” The tweets would later be deleted.
• The next month, Omar hit another anti-Semitic trope, this time dual-allegiance: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” she said in a speech.
• Her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement — which seeks to treat Israel as if it were an apartheid country, isolating it by cutting off investment and aid while putting international sanctions on it — led to the Israeli government denying her request to visit on a political trip.
• Omar also introduced a pro-BDS bill in the House, but it was promptly shot down.
Note that very little of this involves attacking the state of Israel or its current leadership. This is all about American Jews, something that illustrates the problem rather neatly.
In the midst of this impressive run of unalloyed bigotry, Sanders refused to condemn Omar. In fact, he condemned those who had the temerity to point it out:
Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 13, 2019
But sure, the people in AIPAC are the ones countenancing bigotry because they support the only stable democracy in the Middle East and they want American lawmakers to support it as well.
Sanders’ attack on the group has the whiff of “The Fox and the Grapes” about it. Even though Sanders is Jewish, it would be difficult for him to attend, given his past statements, and receive any sort of positive reception. Trust me, if Sanders could look good condemning AIPAC from the dais of its policy convention, he would. He can’t, so he won’t.
The accusation of bigotry is nothing short of a joke, as well. When he ditches Ilhan Omar — and the other “squad” members who are perfectly fine with her anti-Semitic rubbish — then he can talk about bigotry. Now, no.
God help us — and God help Israel — if this man is ever allowed to become president.
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