As the next presidential election approaches, I face a serious dilemma.
Many of Bernie Sanders’ positions resonate with me, but I am loath to vote for him because—and I say this with trepidation—I consider him a self-hating Jew.
I know that is a serious charge, one I have thought long and hard about before taking public.
Now, I believe in freedom of religion, and I know there are many wonderful people who are—as Sanders claims to be–non-observant Jews. But there is a difference between “non-observance” and what we call in Hebrew zilzul, “public contempt” on the other.
When on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah, the sacred day of the Jewish New Year, Bernie Sanders spurns an invitation to speak in a synagogue for a regular political rally, that is zilzul!
When Bernie Sanders chooses to spend the morning of Rosh Hashanah not addressing any of the hundreds of throngs of synagogue crowds that would have loved to hear him but to speak at the fundamentalist Christian bastion, Liberty University, that is a gesture of Jewish self-abnegation that I find odious.
As a rabbi, I cannot deny I would be happy to see a Jew in the White House (although I will never vote for any candidate whom I do not think is the best candidate because he or she is Jewish).
But as a rabbi, I cannot support Bernie Sanders because he shows the world downright contempt for the precious heritage from which spring the social values that he espouses.
Public displays of Mr. Sanders’ self-hatred as a Jew are not new. Go back to 1988 and watch the long video below of him expressing his unqualified and enthusiastic support of Jesse Jackson for president.
After Rev. Jackson called New York City “Hymietown,” I believed then, and I believe now that only a self-hating Jew could endorse his candidacy for the White House.
But it gets worse
Asked at about 19:40 on the video, if there is anything Mr. Sanders did not like about Jesse Jackson, Mr. Sanders responded with yet another long encomium. Only when pressed (at 21:35) does Mr. Sanders—with visible reluctance–acknowledge that Rev. Jackson’s “Hymietown” comment was “an unacceptable statement.”
As an American, I take seriously my right— and what I believe is my obligation—to vote. So if I stand in the booth on Election Day and Bernie Sanders is the least undesirable choice before me, I will vote for him. Bu if I do so, it will be with the same reluctance with which Mr. Sanders called “Hymietown,” ”an unacceptable statement.”