After watching the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, some commentators went on the record as saying they felt Senator Sanders showed courage in his continuing insistence that Israel’s military action in the most recent Gaza War was a “disproportionate response”. Their analysis was that a Jewish politician coming to New York and taking this unpopular stance in, of all places Brooklyn, took bravery and character, regardless of whether you agree with his viewpoint or not. The reality is, despite how it looks on the surface, nothing could be further from the truth.
I don’t blame the commentators for feeling this way. I do recognize that when Van Jones, a journalist for CNN and an African-American showed a degree of admiration for Sanders for not backing down, he was very clear about the fact that it was whether you agree with him or not. His admiration for his character was not an endorsement of the viewpoint. Nevertheless, just as I can intellectually understand but not comprehend what it means to be black in America, so too Van does not understand what it is like to be the son of Holocaust survivors. Incidentally, neither does Bernie Sanders.
Even when discussing his Jewish background and experience with Israel, Senator Sanders comes across more as he is talking about them than us. I hardly ever use the term self-hating Jews anymore, not because I don’t believe that some Jews fall into that category, but because I believe it to be inappropriate to declare what someone hates or loves unless they come right out and say it. However, I do know that the perspective of a cultural Jew whose parents immigrated from Poland with little money is very different than a proud Jew whose parents lived through Nazi-occupation first hand. But more importantly I recognize that those who take the side of the enemy hardly ever do so because of a courage of convictions, rather they do so out of a fear so deep-rooted, they either don’t know it exists or they deny it to the world.
The enemies of the free world are dangerous and frightening people. Most of these enemies hate America and its way of life with a passion. To an Islamic Extremist, there is almost nothing worse than an American with American values. Almost. The one thing worse is a Jewish American. That’s not to be taken lightly in today’s world. After all if history proves nothing else, it proves that hatred for Jews is easily converted into violence against Jews. Throughout time, but most notably during the time of Adolph Hitler, there were always Jews who took the side of the enemy because they felt it would save them. The harsh reality is, that it not only ended up in the loss of their lives, it ended up in the destruction of their soul.
I have absolutely no problem with a presidential candidate speaking of the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity. I have also gone on the record many times as being someone completely willing to blame Israel when they deserve to be blamed. That being said, a sovereign nation defending its very right to exist and retaliating against missile attacks on its population centers by a terrorist organization is not the guilty party. Furthermore, being a Jewish politician in America and taking the side of the terrorist organization not only does not make you an individual of courage and character, it ultimately does nothing to make you immune from those who hate the Jewish people. All it does do is make you another typical politician pandering to a certain demographic, albeit not the demographic of those born into the same religion as you. It also makes you a coward more than it makes you a hero. Taking on Israel is not the same as taking on Wall Street. Taking on Israel is easy. In the world in which we live today, it might even help a politician get more funding, and generally speaking, and I say this with pride,pro-Israel Jews don’t commit acts of violence against those who oppose their views. I have little doubt Bernie Sanders knows that as well.
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