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Congratulations on your victory in Nevada. I continue to support Pete Buttigieg strongly. But I see you, I love you and I know the happiness that comes with primary victories for your candidate.
And I now need to talk tachlis — that’s Yiddish for bluntly speaking the bottom line.
You have got to influence Bernie’s campaign, and as many of Bernie’s other supporters as you can, to take a different approach to progressive Democrats like me who fear Bernie Sanders.
If you don’t, the first-time young voters you believe will turnout for Bernie in November will be balanced by other Democratic voters who will stay at home.
First, you need to stop portaying Democrats who don’t support Bernie as part of the problematic establishment blocking progressive social change. That’s bullcrap. Many of us, including me, have worked our entire lives for progressive causes and candidates. We have the progressive laws to show for it. When Bernie and many of his supporters label themselves the real deal, and the rest of us as, well, some kind of Neville Chamberlains, you alienate us beyond anything you can imagine.
Secondly, you still have a Hillary Clinton problem and you better deal with it. I am a Hillary supporter who has worked hard to get over 2016. If I were in Hillary’s shoes, I would hope to have the discipline not to speak out against Bernie in 2020. But like Hillary, I am human, and my discipline would be in doubt. If Bernie is the nominee, he will have to be a gracious nominee and be publicly kind to Hillary no matter what she says or how much he hates doing so. That’s what nominees do if they want to bring a party together to win.
Thirdly, Bernie has a problem with a number of Jewish voters, including with a number of progressive Jews like me. Yes, friends, it is about Israel. You know my position: I believe in a two-state solution in which Israel and an independent Palestinian state would live side by side in peace, security, dignity and mutual prosperity. I have deeply critical of Netanyahu’s continued oppression of the Palestinian people. And like nearly all other American Jews, I am a Zionist, which means I support the right of Israel to exist. I love Israel even as I detest its current government, in the same way I love the United States but detest its current President.
For many of us progressive Jews, Bernie goes too far. We don’t give a damn that he once lived on a kibbutz when several who hold influence with him, whom he showcases proudly, advocate for the end of the State of Israel. We don’t like that Bernie chooses to call out Israel as a recurring campaign talking point when he rarely campaigns against the human rights abuses of other countries. We are petrified of Bernie on Israel at a time when Antisemitism is dramatically increasing across the United States and much of the rest of the world, except in Israel, our emotional safe haven.
You may not agree with any of the points I have made in this post. But you have got to recognize that enough Democratic voters share these views. If you cannot, I promise Bernie will lose in November and your revolution will lose, too, because Democrats would not nominate another candidate like Bernie again. You would not win by losing.
In love and desired unity,
Steven Goldstein is the founder of Garden State Equality and a rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion.