Several months ago, one of my uncles called me out of the blue. My uncle is one of the few red blooded conservatives who still dares to reside within the increasingly liberal New York City. He, like most of my extended family, assumes that since I attend a liberal college in California, I have become indoctrinated by radical liberal ideals. Towards the end of our pleasant conversation, he asked me, “So, Daniel, are you one of those Bernie Sanders supporters?” I replied that I was not yet sure. It was too early for me to know, but I had not yet ruled it out. His response was not the scathing critique of Bernie’s self-proclaimed socialist stance that I had expected. His problem with Bernie lay in his shared identity as a Jew.
At first I was skeptical of his logic, telling him that although Bernie is a Jew, his Jewishness would not affect his behavior towards Jews or the State of Israel. But, in recent times, my position has become increasingly tenuous and uncertain. The famous adage that “you are your own greatest enemy” has, throughout history, been proven somewhat accurate. Some of the worst anti-Semites have, in fact, been Jews. Now, Bernie is no anti-Semite (probably), but he has made some grave mistakes in regards to the only Jewish state in the world.
In the beginning, he took a “progressive” stance on the matter, seeking to have a more “balanced” approach. Flags were raised when he declined to attend the AIPAC policy conference in Washington D.C. since he was on the campaign trail (a poor excuse, considering that AIPAC would have been a phenomenal opportunity to curry favor with a group that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in New York). Since then, he has completely gone over the edge in both his accusation towards Israel for the amount of people they killed (seven times the Hamas estimate!) and his appointment of advisers who have a history of strong bias against Israel.
Is the reason that Bernie takes these stances because he is Jewish? Maybe yes and maybe no. It would be hard to maintain either position with anything that would resemble conclusive evidence, but the subject is very intriguing. If a Jew was voted in as president, would people be more inclined to blame the Jews, a group that has been blamed throughout history, when things go badly? If a Jew were to be president, would it affect our relationship with countries that have a negative relationship with the Jewish people? And would a Jew, consciously or unconsciously, take positions that are not typical of Jews in order to persuade people that they are reliable despite their religion?
It is hard to say that these factors would be the sole cause of any particular decision or attitude, but the laws of common sense dictate that they cannot be ignored. There is a lot of data on Jews in various political offices in America, but none can adequately answer the problems posed to a president. Most politicians are elected by those who support their platforms and are required to merely to play to their supporters to maintain their office.
The president, in contrast, must be somewhat partisan, and we see this fact demonstrated in even the more ideologically extreme presidents. This election cycle represents an important change in two ways: first, that, for better or worse, ideological purity has gained a lot of ground, and establishment politics has taken a severe beating. Second, that for the first time in American history, a Jew actually has a chance at becoming president.
It no longer seems like Bernie will in fact be able to close the gap with Hillary Clinton, but one cannot help but wonder. What would happen if we had a Jewish president?