February 10, 2016

The NYT detects "a familiar mixture of celebration and anxiety among Jews in the United States and abroad" as Bernie Sanders becomes "the first Jewish candidate in history to win a presidential primary election."

It's "As Bernie Sanders Makes History, Jews Wonder What It Means," by Nicholas Confessore.
While Mr. Sanders was raised Jewish and even spent time on an Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s, he has been muted in his own embrace of the faith.... The Israeli paper Haaretz noted that Mr. Sanders often refers to himself as the son of a Polish immigrant, rather than a Jewish immigrant. “The Jewish establishment has a hard time considering him one of its own,” the paper observed.

Another Haaretz commentator, Chemi Shalev, worried that Mr. Sanders’ victory, and his firebrand liberal politics, would stoke anti-Semitism: “More than any other Democratic candidate, Sanders fits the bill of the G.O.P.’s favorite Jewish bogeyman, Saul Alinsky”....
Why do we have this idea that a candidate should forefront his ethnic or religious identity? I'd rather assume that Bernie Sanders is getting it right, presenting himself as an individual and not making much of his identity in a particular group. I'd rather call into question why other candidates try to gain by calling attention to their group identity. Hillary Clinton has been milking her status as a female like mad, even shaming those of us who are in this group — that is, the majority of Amercan voters.

I mean, just imagine Bernie pushing the "first Jewish President" theme as hard as Hillary pushes "first woman President." I'd like to see a SNL skit with Larry David running with that scenario. Here's a piece from a few days ago in The Washington Post, "Clinton looks to sisterhood, but votes may go to Sanders":
"Clinton’s struggles with women underscore the extent to which she has not yet figured out how to harness the history-making potential of her candidacy in the same way that Barack Obama mobilized minorities and white liberals excited about electing the first black president."
But Obama didn't go around talking about it. He presented himself and we, the voters, thought about it on our own. If he'd talked about the prospect of becoming the first black President half as much as Hillary talks about becoming the first woman President, things would not have unfolded the way they did. We're properly defensive to the verbalized argument that a group-based first is something to strain after. It has to be a good feeling that arises from within, out of a real sense of good will and promise. The hard sell stimulates our resistance to the huckster.

53 comments:

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Good thing Cruz and Rubio aren't real Hispanics or we'd have to worry about this sort of thing on the right side of the aisle.

Michael McClain said...

Hell must be over-flowing.

Jim S. said...

I always thought the Democrats messed up in 2004 by not nominating Lieberman, who's an observant Jew. Even if you disagreed with him, you knew he was a trustworthy, honest man. Kerry was just about the worst person for them to nominate.

Meade said...

Trump would be our first real Pompous New York Billionaire Blowhard president. Not that he goes around talking about it.

jimbino said...

Bernie promises to be the first and last atheist candidate for the presidency. Wouldn't it be nice if he got elected and were to appoint a SCOTUS justice who is not for once either Roman Catholic or Jewish -- Like Bill Maher?

coolkevs said...

Ted Cruz - first Hispanic to win primary/caucus - crickets

Bay Area Guy said...

Bernie! is Jewish in the same way that George Zimmerman is Hispanic.

It's a bug, not a feature.

Shouting Thomas said...

No, prof, the problem is the blacks did once have a bitch.

American women never did.

Your lifelong lie is coming unraveled and you can't see it.

You've been lying for a very long time about having some sort of legitimate bitch and you've convinced yourself there's some substance to the lie.

It's all been a lie. The whole feminist BS. All of it.

Hillary's game is falling apart because the feminist lie is and always was BS.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem here is that Sanders' faith is likely to have an effect on US policy to Israel. Observant Jews tend to be strong backers of Israel, whereas cultural Jews much less so. And, heaven knows, Israel needs more US support, after 7+ years of the first Muslim President (ok - I know that Obama is officially Christian - the problem is that he almost always takes the Muslim side of issues over the Christian side, which is why Syrian Muslims have an easier time getting into this country right now than do Syrian Christians, who are being slaughtered there by ISIS, etc.) I would be much happier with a more observant Jew like Lieberman.

Char Char Binks said...

Every candidate has to pretend to believe in God. They just have to make sure it's the right god.

Char Char Binks said...

I mean every SERIOUS candidate.

holdfast said...

Bernie never talks about any Jewish identity. The GOP needs to court Jewish voters, so they will denounce Bernie for being a hippie-commie-geriatric loon, but it's in nobody's interest to play the anti-Jew card against him. Even Hillary!'s not so desperate that she'd risk offending Jews on Wall Street.

Birches said...

Oh yeah, it's the conservatives who are rife with anti Semitism these days..,

joucas said...

Saul Alinsky is a GOP bogeyman because he's Jewish?! Who knew. These lefty folks need fresh hobby horses to ride because some of the stereotyped assumptions they hold are way past their "sell by" dates.

Michael K said...

Of course Obama talked about being black ! He gave speeches about racial healing that he hd no intention of fulfilling.

He was that nice young man who had a crease in his pants and was "well spoken" who would bring us all together in racial harmony, except that plan didn't fit his agenda.

Bay Area Guy said...

@holdfast

"Hippie-Commie-geriatric loon" -- big heh!

That kinda captures Bernie in toto. I love it!

tshanks78 said...

Is there a special place in hell for jews that don't support Bernie Sanders?

n.n said...

Lefty Jew. One too many betrayals. Never again.

traditionalguy said...

It's New York City Values all the way down. Just because of the tolerance of religions that IS the Dutch tradition still reigns there the two front runners do not need to prove they are what they are by flaunting it. It is OK to be different.

When a man over does his religious traditions, he is showing his insecurity that he is not Jewish enough or Protestant Christian enough. Cruz has that problem big time. Because he is a Canadian Catholic, he has to overdue Evangelical Christianity to prove he is one of us, in fact a better one of us.

Real American said...

in other words you lowered your standards to vote for the black guy. and HiLIARy wants you to lower your standards to vote for the vaginal-American. Exhibits A and B against affirmative action right there.

Sebastian said...

"But Obama didn't go around talking about it." Haha.

O in Philly: "I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."

O in Berlin: "I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British."

And so on, and so forth. Voting for O is one thing, the state of denial after all these years another.

Birkel said...

Sebastian,
If you make Leftists acknowledge facts and truth, an angel loses its wings. Be nice to the "cruelly neutral" Althouse. She must maintain her "comfortable fictions".

traditionalguy,
I will be no less cruel when I remind you, if Trump becomes president, how wrong you have been. I hope I never get that chance.

bgates said...

But Obama didn't go around talking about it.

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Are you telling me Obama's black?

David said...

Oh, he's Jewish? Or was Jewish? I don't believe it. I'd need to see a birth certificate or something.







Big Mike said...

Oh sh*t. Now when I say I'm voting against Sanders I'll be told that it's not that I'm opposed to his policies, but because I'm anti-Semitic.

The Godfather said...

The first Jew to win a primary wasn't Sanders, it was Goldwater. Sure, Goldwater wasn't a practicing Jew (he was an Episcopalian), but neither is Sanders as far as I can tell.

rcocean said...

That the Democrats are even willing to consider nominating a 74-year old socialist with a Brooklyn accent just shows how out of touch they are with the rest of America.


rcocean said...

"The first Jew to win a primary wasn't Sanders, it was Goldwater. Sure, Goldwater wasn't a practicing Jew (he was an Episcopalian), but neither is Sanders as far as I can tell."

So, Jews are a race?

surfed said...

And the over/under of candidate or President Sanders as a target for an ISIS attack would be...what?

YoungHegelian said...

I once had a Holocaust survivor tell me he would never vote for Lieberman. Didn't want Lieberman to be VP, and didn't want Lieberman or any other Jew to be President.

I told him I'd have absolutely no problem voting for a Jew for president & I asked him why he did. He said that it would only encourage the anti-Semites who think that the Jews run everything if the President were Jewish. My protestations that those sorts of people are going to believe what they believe no matter what the facts fell on deaf ears.

Growing up in 1930's Poland, then followed by the horrors of the camps, gave him, for very good reason, a strong fear of what could happen when atavistic hatreds come to the forefront.

YoungHegelian said...

@rcocean,

So, Jews are a race?

I think they consider themselves an ethnicity, actually. Since most of the Jews of the NE are Ashkenazi Jews, they really are pretty much the same ethnic group. The boundaries of the countries they came from in Eastern Europe changed so much that one could be born in the same town & be a Polish, or Lithuanian, or Ukrainian Jew, depending on what year you were born there.

holdfast said...

@rcocean

That is a tricky questions. The Nazis and others certainly thought so. Some Jews seem to think so - or if not a race per se, then an "ethnicity" like Hispanic. As well as a religion and/or a culture.

Sanders certainly has certain cultural markers that are typical of East Coast Ashkenazi Jews, but he seems to be far from a person who practices the Jewish religion. He certainly has that raspy Brooklyn accent, but then I know lots of NYers with the same accent who are descended from Italians and Irish. It's more of a geographic and class marker than an ethnic or religious one.

Happily, for both his supporters and detractors, Sanders' Jewishness (or lack thereof) seems to be pretty much a non-issue. I think that speaks well of the GOP, the Dems and the country at large.

The Godfather said...

rocean asks, "So, Jews are a race?" (in response to my observation that Goldwater was the first Jew to win a presidential primary). No, I don't think so. My comment was intended as a slightly jocular take on the material included in Althouse's post, which shows that descendants of practicing Jews who are not themselves practicing Jews are nevertless often referred to as Jews.

There's a dark side to this (now I'm not being jocular anymore). In Hitler's Germany, Christians with Jewish ancestry, even Christian clergy, were rounded up and treated like all the other Jews. In 1962, I attended a Young Americans for Freedom rally in Madison Square Garden at which Sen. Goldwater was to speak, and had to pass through picket lines manned by the American Nazi Party and (as I recall) the Renaissance Party, who objected to Goldwater (an Episcopalian) because he was "Jewish".

YoungHegelian said...

Another Haaretz commentator, Chemi Shalev, worried that Mr. Sanders’ victory, and his firebrand liberal politics, would stoke anti-Semitism: “More than any other Democratic candidate, Sanders fits the bill of the G.O.P.’s favorite Jewish bogeyman, Saul Alinsky”....

It never ceases to amaze me how lefty Jews, such as the American born Mr. Shalev, who covers the US political scene for Ha'aretz can, in the middle of lefty-led divestment from Israel movements at various campuses & scholarly organizations, black & Hispanic antisemitism in the Democratic Party, left-wing apologetics for Islamic antisemitism, & the general background noise of antisemitism on the Left going back to at least Marx's On the Jewish Question, look out & see the American Right's antipathy toward Saul Alinsky as being because he was Jewish.

Did Mr. Shalev grow up in a bubble?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

While Mr. Sanders was raised Jewish and even spent time on a(n) Stalinist Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s, he has been muted in his own embrace of the faith....

FIFY.

Birkel said...

YoungHegelian:

Mr. Shalev has a hammer. Mr. Shalev only has a hammer. Mr. Shalev has no other tools.

And all of the nails cannot convince Mr. Shalev of any new strategy.

Howard Nelson said...

If you choose to live as a socialist in a socialist society governed by the rules of that society which apply to all of its citizens, you have no basis for significant complaint since you have given up some of your individualism for the benefits you derive from that socialist society.
There is very little happy room for an individualist in that socialist society. It's like trying to fit a square hole into a smaller round void on the eighth day of the color blue.
As president, Sanders cannot be a socialist since he would have powers greater than those of the socialist citizenry -- as would the bureaucracy serving his administration. The question arises as to what kind of tyrant he would be as president. Who and what might constrain him, or them, to remain within bounds of justice, and who defines and imposes those bounds and punishes the bounder?
How does a democratic socialist differ from a non-adjectivist socialist?
As Lou Costello might ask, "Who's on fifth?"

exhelodrvr1 said...

Obama didn't talk about being black?

Eric said...

Hillary's game is falling apart because the feminist lie is and always was BS.

That may be, Thomas, but this country is still run by middle-aged white women. They can put her in office if Sanders's Free Stuff message doesn't lure them away.

Eric said...

But Obama didn't go around talking about it.

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Are you telling me Obama's black?


Hahaha. Shades of If You Could See What I Hear. That was a great movie.

Krumhorn said...

I just love our hostess' statement that Hillary has been milking her status as a female like mad.. Is that the equivalent of saying that Bernie has been shvitzing his status as a wild-haired revolutionary like mad? I can't turn my head away quickly enough from the image of her droopy dugs lactating.

- Krummhorn

Gahrie said...

Sanders fits the bill of the G.O.P.’s favorite Jewish bogeyman, Saul Alinsky”....

This is a lie of commission. The Republicans oppose Alinsky because he was a Communist revolutionary, not because he was a Jew. I din't even know he was Jewish until now.

Gahrie said...

So, Jews are a race?

In many ways, yes. They are a distinct genetic population. See Tay-Sachs.

James Pawlak said...

FYI---George Zimmerman is genetically 50% Hispanic. The "One Drop Of Blood Rule" makes him Hispanic.
Will "Bernie" be as much in support of Muslim-Terrorists (Please excuse the redundancy) as Barack Hussein Obama???

jaydub said...

All candidates who practice identity group politics should be consistently mocked. I try to do my part.

Eric said...

This is a lie of commission. The Republicans oppose Alinsky because he was a Communist revolutionary, not because he was a Jew. I din't even know he was Jewish until now.

You didn't realize a guy named "Saul" was a Jew? I mean, that's probably not definitive, but if you had to bet...

AllenS said...

DNA-wise, Jews are a racial category. I'm 3% European Jewish.

Rusty said...

No shit, eric. Having grown up in the big city I've run into more exceptions than the rule

So, Jews are a race? I know, right.

apparently so is "stupid". Call a black guy stupid and all of a sudden you're racist.

Brando said...

The Jewish angle wouldn't really help Sanders much (the voters he needs to win over are blacks and Hispanics, and I don't think it'd be a net plus for them to know you're Jewish) but I also get the impression he doesn't wear his religion on his sleeve anyway. Hillary, on the other hand, would circumcise her husband on Fifth Avenue if she thought it would win over a few Jewish voters.

Hillary's identity politics problem is that like everything else about her campaign she has no subtlety. Everyone knows you're a woman! The thing is, they think of her as Hillary Clinton first and as a woman as an afterthought.

Rusty said...

"Hillary's identity politics problem is that like everything else about her campaign she has no subtlety."
Hillary has never left white upper class Park Ridge. She has become her upwardly grasping middle class mother.

Gahrie said...

You didn't realize a guy named "Saul" was a Jew? I mean, that's probably not definitive, but if you had to bet...

It's actually a fairly common Hispanic name, as most of the Biblical names are. I have a couple of Sauls this year, and neither is Jewish.

Peter said...

just imagine Bernie pushing the "first Jewish President" theme as hard as Hillary pushes "first woman President."

I think most voters understand that Bernie's true faith is a secular faith and not one based on religious revelation.

But as a practical matter, he or his advisors presumably know there's more than a little anti-Semitism in many African-American communities, and therefore emphasising a Jewish identity is more likely to hurt than help his political support there.

Gusty Winds said...

Gives a whole new meaning to Camp David.