Democratic US presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders waves at the start of the Democratic U.S. presidential candidates' debate in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Senator Bernie Sanders, a presidential frontrunner, has recently been criticized by some in the Jewish community for comments he made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Yet, the fact remains we have never had the opportunity to support a candidate who has lived by Jewish values, who has always stood on the right side of history and who, having lived on a kibbutz, is the only candidate with a true and, in his own words, “deep personal connection to Israel.” While you may not agree with all of his policies, Bernie’s consistency, courageous leadership and unwavering commitment to truth, peace and social justice make him the better choice for the United States and the Jewish people.
In every presidential election, we vote for a candidate that we hope shares our common interests. The sad reality is that politicians will make proclamations and promises designed to secure your vote.
Sometimes they mean what they say, often they don’t.
Over the past 30 years, as an elected official, Bernie Sanders has consistently campaigned on issues that should matter to all fair-minded people. As a college student in the 1960s Bernie was on the front lines fighting to end racial segregation and discrimination. As an elected official, he has carried this mantra of advocating for the oppressed and the marginalized. He’s been an outspoken advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community, decades before it was fashionable.
He’s dedicated his life to protecting the working people. He’s the first candidate to command the world’s attention to the growing income inequality gap and the unjust influence of big money over American politics.
The role of the US president is to always do what’s right for America, even if it’s not popular at the time. Bernie Sanders had the courage to protest against the misguided US invasion of Iraq. He was right. More recently, Sanders protested against bombing Libya – which left a dangerous power vacuum – and he was right.
He was right about NAFTA, and he was right about the Panama Papers. Sanders has always been unafraid to make decisions despite the political consequences for him. This is why I believe he is the best candidate for the Jewish people.
The first two critical steps to finding a lasting peace between Israeli and Palestinian communities is believing it’s possible and building trust. We need leadership that is truthful and consistent.
Sanders listens constructively, embraces criticism and brings respect and decency back to the political process. He has spent the past three decades working with elected officials on both sides of the aisle, even those ideologically opposed to him, to deliver solutions for the greater good. He believes the only prospect for peace is through direct negotiations, without imposing superficial deadlines, for a two-state solution. More than 50 percent of Israelis believe the same.
One of Israel’s greatest friends, former New York City mayor Ed Koch once said, “If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.” You may not always agree with your friends, but you should support them if you believe, fundamentally, that they have your back.
As someone whose family members perished in the Holocaust, Sanders knows about the ongoing threats to the Jewish people, and our need to respond to those threats decisively. You may not agree with everything he says, but you can trust that when he says he is “committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to its people’s right to live in peace and security,” he means it. All the presidential frontrunners declared their commitment to Israel, but only one has a true and honest relationship with the state. Given his record, his courage and his word, he deserves the support of the Jewish people.The author is a nonprofit executive, former financial executive, political strategist, activist and philanthropist. She serves on the board of Hillel International, University of Vermont Hillel, the Mary Haas Foundation and is chair of public-private partnerships for the Survivor Initiative. She currently divides her time between Tel Aviv, Vermont and New York City.