Activist Linda Sarsour ignited a media firestorm when video surfaced of her telling the American Muslims for Palestine conference “Israel ‘is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else’” on Nov. 29. Sarsour adopting white supremacist rhetoric and blatantly lying about Israel — the realized, radical notion that Jews deserve a homeland like every other people — wasn’t so surprising.
No, what’s been notable is that Sarsour remains Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign surrogate. Sarsour is too antisemitic for the Women’s March, but not for Sanders.
Many campaigns would have consciously uncoupled from Sarsour by now. Surely no one believed Sarsour’s apology, insisting her remarks criticizing modern Israel’s founding in 1948 were, in fact, about Israel’s 2018 nation-state law. But Bernie Sanders remains loyal, and it’s worth considering why.
In a November essay titled “How to Fight Antisemitism” in the far-left Jewish Currents, Sanders promised, “I will always call out antisemitism when I see it.” That sounds good until you understand Sanders’ view of antisemitism: “Like other forms of bigotry — racism, sexism, homophobia — antisemitism is used by the right to divide people from one another and prevent us from fighting together for a shared future of equality, peace, prosperity, and environmental justice.”
In other words, antisemitism is a problem of the right, and Sanders’ definition of the right is fairly expansive; he doesn’t differentiate here between mainstream conservatives and the far-right.
The other flaw with Sanders’ narrow definition is that it ignores two other major sources of antisemitism, namely the far-left and Islamists. Without those last two, there is no way to understand either Corbynism or the genocidal hatred of Hamas and Hezbollah. Yet Sanders strikingly overlooks them. read more