"Let's Nip This Sh*t in the Bud": Cynical Accusations of Anti-Semitism Against Bernie Sanders Draw Fire From Progressives

Progressives are taking the initiative to destroy and defeat accusations that Sen. Bernie Sanders, a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is running or at the least tolerating an anti-Semitic primary campaign—accusations that come while the right-wing sharpens its knives for the Vermont senator as he rises in the polls. 

Attacks against Sanders began last week after U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn suffered a humiliating defeat that some observers believe was helped by years of attacks claiming he and his left-leaning British party were anti-Semitic. At that point, columnist Peter Beinart wrote for The Forward on Tuesday, the die was cast.

“Discrediting him as a Jew is really about discrediting left-wing Jews in general.”
—David Klion, Jewish Currents

“Given Bernie Sanders’ endurance as a top-tier presidential contender, and his support for Palestinian rights, it was almost inevitable that conservatives would start labeling his campaign anti-Semitic,” wrote Beinart. “Last week’s election in Britain—and the alleged similarities between Sanders and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—provided the pretext.”

It happened quickly. On December 13, right-wing outlet The Washington Examiner reporter Tiana Lowe—whose recent praise for her Nazi-collaborating Chetnik grandfather was noted by a number of observers—wrote that the Sanders campaign “has an anti-Semitism problem.”

The smear provoked a sharp reaction from Sanders speechwriter David Sirota. 

“As a Jewish person, my response to this is simple,” Sirota tweeted, “anyone accusing Bernie of anti-Semitism—and anyone publishing this shit—is a total asshole.”

Lowe’s piece was joined by articles in other right-wing publications, including conservative magazine Commentary‘s online editor Noah Rothman. Cartoonist and activist Eli Valley hit back at Rothman on social media, saying, “It’s happening—elated over the U.K., the minority of American Jews that has waged war on the progressive Jewish majority for generations is starting to pull the same shtick with the most inspiring Jewish politician of our time.”

“We need to shut this shit down early,” Valley added.

That sentiment was shared by journalist Kate Aronoff, who, in a call to action, urged supporters of the senator’s campaign to fight against the attacks.