With Sen. Bernie Sanders leaping ahead of the pack in the Democratic Party, chances have greatly increased that he will become the first Jewish nominee to reach the general election for POTUS. Both Barack Obama as the first black nominee and Hillary Clinton as the first female nominee, wore their groundbreaking distinctions as a badge of pride in their respective quests for White House. Bernie, on the other hand, has been quite different, usually only referring to his Jewishness if he has an opportunity to slander Israel or Trump as bigoted.
In 2016, Sanders largely avoided mention of his Jewishness. This time around, he’s been less elusive and even came out with a “Proud to Be Jewish” campaign video, in which he talks about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism and concludes that President Trump is responsible for the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years, even though the most shocking rise in anti-Semitism has come from Bernie’s supporters like Rep. Ilhan Omar or Linda Sarsour on the far left, or in movements such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
The absurdity of exploiting the Holocaust and anti-Semitism for political purposes, however inaccurately used, demands a response. Firstly, we need to understand that real Jewish pride doesn’t come from being a people that has suffered from slavery and mass persecution, even though we certainly have suffered more than most. In short, our Jewish identity is not dependent on what bad people do to us.
A Jew who is really in touch with his heritage is proud to be a member of the people who provided the moral basis for Western Civilization in the form of the Ten Commandments and the Hebrew Bible. The concepts of honoring parents, of humility, of the Sabbath as a day of rest and family bonding - Those are the foundations for the same eternal values that many of the founders of the United States so deeply admired. Noteworthy is the rebirth of Israel as a sovereign nation again after two thousand years of exile from its homeland. These are all symbols of real Jewish pride. Yes, it’s important to know about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, but it’s not a badge of pride for Jews, rather it’s a badge of shame for those who allowed such atrocities to happen.
As for Bernie’s charge that Donald Trump has fomented anti-Semitism, the truth is just the opposite. Unlike Bernie Sanders, President Trump’s actions have enabled genuine Jewish pride, not as campaign spin to get votes, but as a sincere show of love for the Jewish people. This has included his bold recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, followed by the important recognition of the strategic Golan Heights as part of sovereign Israel, as well as halting support for the Palestinian Authority until it stops funding terrorism, and finally, leading the fight against a nuclear Iran. All of these were courageous actions taken by Trump in close coordination with the Israeli government and were supported by most Israelis from right to left.
That being the case, why is it that a majority of Jewish Americans would support Senator Sanders, who says that most of Israel’s leaders are racist, against President Trump, who has made such strong efforts to strengthen ties between the United States and the Jewish State of Israel?
The sad truth is that those liberal/socialist Jews in America are as disconnected from their Judaism as is Bernie Sanders! We Jews in Israel, as well as the minority of religiously connected Jews in America, care deeply about Jewish survival and the future of our people. Our high marriage rate and large Jewish families reflect that. Bernie has done nothing in his personal or public life that would indicate to us that he shares those concerns.
There actually is a very sad, but relevant joke about the Jewishness of Bernie Sanders: What is the difference between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump? The answer? Donald Trump has Jewish grandchildren!
Sure, it’s just a joke, but it’s true. All of the research cited in my book, “Trump and the Jews," indicates that among those American Jews who strongly identify as Jews, a clear majority strongly approve of President Trump’s job performance. The pattern is clear. The more positive the Jewish identity, the stronger the support for President Trump.
Let us be clear: the religion of secular socialism, as promulgated by Bernie Sanders, has nothing to do with Judaism, and Jewish identity is much more substantial than inaccurate slogans blaming Trump for anti-Semitism. Jews who care about their Judaism, as well as Gentiles who care about Israel, would be wise to examine the facts on the ground. If Sanders continues his surge and, indeed, becomes the nominee, his Jewishness will certainly not be a reason to vote for him.
David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh Israel, is the author of the book, “Trump and the Jews” and five other books. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established after he and his then three-year-old son were wounded in a terror attack. He can be found at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com or at http://www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org