We just celebrated Purim, with its theme of v’nahafoch hu – the sudden turnaround of events. We have seen a similar turnaround in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Two weeks ago, it looked like the Super Tuesday primaries would give Bernie Sanders an insurmountable lead. But the actual results revitalized the campaign of Joe Biden and made the battle for the Democratic nomination a two-way race. It is now time for all of us to unite around Joe Biden in that race.
Joe Biden is not my idea of an ideal Presidential candidate. As Vice President during the Obama administration, he supported the Iran nuclear deal and the United Nations resolution that referred to all of East Jerusalem, including the Kosel, as illegally occupied territory. He continues to call on Israel to end settlements in Judea and Samaria, which he has called “outrageous.” But there are three terrifying words that demand that we all support Biden in the upcoming New York Democratic Primary: President Bernie Sanders.
While Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination are less than they were two weeks ago, he should not be written off. The one clear message from this year’s Democratic primaries is that things can change dramatically along the way. Just ask Pete Buttigieg, who went from frontrunner to withdrawing from the race. While the Sanders momentum has slowed, it has not stopped. His campaign is better funded and better organized than Biden’s. Just as moderates have coalesced around Biden, progressives, in what has now become a two-way race, will probably coalesce around Sanders.
Bernie Sanders’ record of hostility to Israel is well known. It is one thing to support a Palestinian state, as even many Israelis do. It is another to brand the Israeli government as “racist.” It is one thing to oppose settlements in Judea and Samaria. It is another to call for cutting aid to Israel if Israel does not meet Palestinian demands. Sanders’ leading supporters and surrogates include some of the most notorious anti-Semitic figures in politics today. Recently, Sanders hit a new low when he called the AIPAC Policy Conference “a platform for bigotry.” Criticizing the policies of the Israeli government is legitimate. But by calling a gathering of 18,000 people from every ethnic, racial, and religious background representing a broad range of political views and affiliations a platform for bigotry, Sanders essentially accused all supporters of Israel of committing what he and his fellow “progressives” consider the cardinal sin.
We cannot allow Sanders to become the Democratic nominee with the hope that he will lose the election. Almost every poll shows Sanders leading President Trump. The economy, which was President Trump’s strong point, now looks shaky, as the stock market has tumbled and businesses have cut back due to the scare over the coronavirus. Bernie Sanders, as the Democratic nominee for President, is a gamble we cannot afford to take.
Joe Biden is not the ideal candidate, but he is far preferable to Sanders. While he is opposed to settlements in Judea and Samaria and has called on Israel to address the “legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people,” he has made it clear that he will not cut aid to Israel over the issue. He supports a two-state solution but has made it clear that it should be achieved by face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which has been the consistent position of the Israeli government. Rather than having the United States rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, he favors negotiating a new deal that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and address issues like Iran’s ballistic missile systems and support for terrorism. Biden appeared by video at the recent AIPAC Policy Conference where he said, “I will never boycott you.” If we blame Biden for the shortcomings of the Obama administration, we should also give him credit for the positive achievements, such as the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, the Iron Dome air defense system, and the memorandum of understanding that commits the United States to providing $3.8 billion a year in aid to Israel for ten years. There are clearly differences between Biden and the Netanyahu government; but Biden is a friend of Israel who understands Israel’s security needs. Compared to Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden is Menachem Begin.
The New York Primary on Tuesday, April 28, may well determine who will win the Democratic nomination for President. Voting in the Democratic Primary does not require you to vote for the Democratic nominee for President. You can vote in the Democratic Primary on April 28 and still vote for President Trump in the General Election. A Bernie Sanders administration would be a disaster. April 28 is our opportunity to stop it. We must not sit on the fence or on the sidelines. No matter how you plan to vote in the General Election, April 28 will be the day when all of us need to Go With Joe.