This is part of a continuing series by Yakov Hirsch seeking to explain the nature and effect of Hasbara culture. A compilation of his writings for us is here.
The shocking Donald Trump victory in the 2016 election has many people wondering what if it had been Bernie Sanders facing off against Donald Trump. How tantalizing does that race seem now? Naturally we hear if Hillary couldn’t beat Trump, how would Sanders? But a little while ago these same voices were convinced Donald Trump was even more unelectable than Sanders. And whatever liabilities a Sanders general election campaign would have, lack of enthusiasm for the candidate wouldn’t be one of them. How refreshing would that be? There is a lot to be said for at least going down with a candidate you can be proud of.
This two-part article will look at one of Bernie Sanders’s more formidable foes in the Democratic primary. Sanders was up against what I have come to call “hasbara culture.” Hasbara culture is an aggressive and proselytizing understanding of the world. It is a social construction of reality by a minority within the Jewish community. As I have shown in my last couple of articles, Hasbara culturalists experience the word differently than the average American Jew does. This article will try to shed light on why Bernie Sanders provoked such enmity from the people whose understanding of reality is shaped the most by Hasbara culture.
There are two main reason why Bernie Sanders was such a threat to Hasbara culture. The obvious one is his very progressive position on Israel/Palestine. Hasbara Culture prefers its liberals to be progressive except for Palestine (or PEP). Listen to Hillary Clinton’s speech to AIPAC last March and you will understand why the most important Hasbara culture journalist in the country Jeffrey Goldberg pushed her candidacy so much.
The second and more interesting thing we explore in this article is why the one group that was trafficking in hate against Bernie Sanders were other Jews. It wasn’t Trump’s neo-Nazis, who hasbara culturalists like Goldberg were so meticulously tracking, who was waging war against Sanders’ “Judaism.” It seems the neo-Nazis couldn’t care less about Sanders’ Jewish background. By contrast, Jeffrey Goldberg and Jaime Kirchick and other Hasbara culturalists seemed to care for little else when attacking the senator from Vermont. Let’s start with the reaction to Sanders’s position on Israel/Palestine.
Recall what now seems like ancient history: during one of the Hillary-Bernie debates, Sanders placed pressure on Hillary from the left on Israel. He caused quite the sensation. It was a totally new and exciting discourse started by a major candidate in a presidential race.
The ADL was displeased. The most influential organization in America concerned with anti-Semitism and human rights leaped into action.