Bernie Sanders’ equivocations on Israel catching up with his supporters


Mary Scully's photo.


Bernie Sanders is getting caught in his contradictions on the issue of Israel–only showing once again that you can’t play both sides of the street when it comes to apartheid & colonialism. Many Palestinian supporters will willing to let him try but Israel & its Zionist acolytes would have no part of his equivocations.

A few days ago the Sanders campaign announced they had hired Simone Zimmerman, a J Street activist, as the Jewish outreach director. J Street is a pro-Israel group that supports a bantustate solution for Palestinians & actively opposes BDS. It’s essentially the AIPAC of liberal Zionism. They don’t like the excesses of the Israeli government–like carpet bombing of Gaza–but are in full accord with a Jewish-only state & with the entire colonial project of Zionism which necessitates ethnic cleansing.

Zimmerman is a left Zionist of the J Street tradition who opposes Israel’s occupation & actively opposed the carnage in Gaza in 2014. She is also untypically willing to engage in debate with BDS activists. So if Sanders is going to play both sides of the street to get the nomination, Zimmerman is a good person to have on staff.

But only two days after her appointment was announced, Zimmerman was suspended by the Sanders campaign because the Washington Free Beacon, a sketchy news website, unearthed a FB post she wrote in March 2015 that was critical of Netanyahu. She wrote: “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole. He is the embodiment of the ugliest national hubris & tone-deafness towards the international community….Fuck you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent even a fraction of the Jews in this world.” She went on to say he “sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people.” She later edited out a few of the expletives & vulgarities though it wasn’t those which offended Zionists but her critical views of Bibi-ass.

The appointment of Zimmerman brought out the big guns of the US Zionist establishment, including Abe Foxman, formerly a hot shot in the Anti-Defamation League, & Ronald S. Lauder, head of the Estee Lauder cosmetic company (a target of BDS) & president of the World Jewish Congress (one of the biggest & most influential Zionist groups in the world)–who both called on Sanders to fire her.

This fiasco illustrates the Catch-22 of lesser evil politics. As the crisis of modern capitalism deepens & broadens, as the crisis of leadership becomes more acute for the ruling elite & more importantly for working people, it isn’t possible to play both sides of the street if you want to serve justice & social transformation. Principled, uncompromising politics are required for that.

Photo is Sanders trying to sweat out his contradictions.

(Photo from AP)