Bernie, Reinstate Simone Zimmerman
Bernie Sanders just made a bone-headed move. Two days ago, he hired Simone Zimmerman, past national student president of J Street U, a liberal Zionist lobbying group closely affiliated with the Democratic Party. Apparently, Zimmerman over a year ago posted a few feisty things about Bibi Netanyahu (oh my gosh, she even said “Fuck you, Bibi!”) and some of Israel’s more egregious Occupation policies. Nothing she said was remotely untrue. In fact, everything she said is in the best tradition of liberal Zionism. But being a young Jew and college student she expressed herself boldly, perhaps even brashly.
For that, the pro-Israel, largely Republican 1% is calling for her scalp. Abe Foxman, that dinosaur of the Jewish establishment wanted her canned. Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress joined him. Malcolm Hoenlein expressed satisfaction that Bernie slapped her down.
But that’s to be expected. Anytime, the Washington Free Beacon (aka “Free Bacon”) grabs hold of a trashy headline, you can expect the pro-Israel witches will circle round the bubbling cauldron expecting a tasty dish of roasted self-hating Jew. The article was written by Noah Pollak, an acolyte of Bill Kristol. He’s a close pal of Eli Lake and those other Zio-scribblers (aka journalists) the Lobby makes such good use of. Since when does the left allow Breitbart, Drudge or “Bacon” to manage our politics? Since when do we cower in the face of their assault?
My question is, why should this concern Bernie? If anyone should attack him, wouldn’t it be these trogdolytes? If Bernie says he’s proud to earn the enmity of Jeffrey Immelt and the CEO of Verizon, why shouldn’t he be equally proud to earn the enmity of the moth-eaten, moribund pro-Israel establishment; almost all of whom are, by the way, associated with the robber barons of Wall Street and environs.
There are a few reasons Bernie has to tread carefully: he has his eyes on the bigger picture. He’s clawing tooth and nail for the New York vote ahead of the primary this coming week. He knows New York is home to an especially vocal pro-Israel community. He’s worried l’affaire Zimmerman will distract from his momentum in New York. I get that. That’s why I’m glad he refused to fire her and only suspended her. Sign the petition demanding that Bernie reinstate Simone.
But someone in Bernie’s camp better realize that Simone Zimmerman is a sacrificial lamb. That the “Bacon”-eaters of the Israel Lobby don’t give a fig or pork rind about her. It’s Bernie’s scalp they want. So throwing her overboard will only embolden these pro-Israel bullies. Don’t do it. Get Zimmerman back on staff where she’s needed as Bernie heads into the California primary, her home state.
Bernie needs to understand that the young people he appeals to are bold and brash, just like him. They like him because he doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t triangulate. He tells it like it is. That’s who Nicole Zimmerman is as well.
Would Bernie prefer Young Republicans working for him? Smooth-talking, prim and proper youth who know their place? He must know that if he wants the youth vote he’s going to have to accept that they have a few rough edges, as all young people do (I have a 14 year-old son, I know). But despite those rough edges, aren’t young people the heart of our future? Don’t we want to embrace and nurture their passion and fire?
A closing note is in order. Readers here must know that I fundamentally disagree with J Street and do not support it. I’m sure if I spent any time talking to Simone Zimmerman about Israel our views would diverge at some point. But that’s not the point. The point is that the pro-Israel fat cats are trying to dictate Bernie’s strategy and we mustn’t let them. I oppose bullies just as I oppose injustice, whether the victim is a Palestinian or a former J Street student leader.
28 thoughts on “Bernie, Reinstate Simone Zimmerman – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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What should Israel do when the Gaza government lobs missiles at Israel? We pulled out. Initially – there was no blockade on Gaza.
So you say blockade. OK. Say we remove the blockade all together (we keep a closed fence vs. Gaza on the Israeli border (and Egypt probably does the same), and stop Israeli supplies – but allow any ship or airplane in)….
What do we do -IF- Hamas (whose stated aims don’t end in Gaza) – continues shooting?
@lepxii: If anyone needed any proof that this commenter is a hasbara flack…note that he mistakenly published this comment at this blog, when it had nothing whatsoever even remotely to do with the blog post. He was clearly meaning to post it to another blog where presumably it might be more relevant than it is here. He can’t even tell which blog he’s commenting at.
This is shameful. You’ve been exposed. Now go back to your Hasbara coach with your tail between your legs and reveal how stupid you’ve been & that you’ve been found out. I am on the verge of banning you entirely for this outrage. Why don’t we take a reader poll…how many say I should ban him?
Nah…leave him to $wing in his own wind.
Richard: sometimes I get the impression that you actually enjoy banning people. Leave their comments in place, then we know what they are up to. Know your enemy: always a good tactic.
@djfincham: You hv no idea what you’re talking about. I ban less than 1 % of the overall commenters here. Probably much less than that.
I know my “enemy” quite well, thank you. I don’t need the threads weighed down with all that bilge.
Richard – it’s a fine line between allowing idiots to disrupt and derail a thread and allowing idiots to show up the cause they espouse with their bigotry, illogicality, unprincipledness etc. It probably depends on your judgement of the your audience: the odd idiot can be a laughing stock, too many become a nuisance. Weakly moderated sites (e.g. +972) rapidly degenerate into slanging matches; severely moderated sites (e.g. the Guardian) can suppress appropriate discussion of controversial issues (perhaps because the moderators employed have the sense of fair-play and the training and knowledge typical of traffic wardens).
@ bryan: Any time you want to take over moderating my comment threads, let me know. I’m pretty much joking. But it can be an annoying & onerous task at times. If you had to read the drivel I do, and which I don’t publish, your eyes would glaze over and you might die of boredom or something worse.
Richard. Pls. OK so it’s through you I got the scoop that Ms. Z was canned. I grant you that. But let’s be real here: she was hired as outreach to Jews. What Jews out there, who DON’T already believe what her CV preached, want to hear it? The Bern needs to reach out to Jews who DON’T already support him; not those who do. In that case, the radical Ms. Z isn’t the right person for the job! They realized that too late. They merely got caught up in the fervor that Sassy Simone pelted the world with, via her Haaretz editorial, and someone in his ‘cabinet’ convinced the head-hiring-honcho that she was their man. Well, as sexy as that woulda been, she proved to radical. When Linda Sourpuss (oops, Sarsour–or something like that) endorses her appointment, one knows that something MUST be wrong. So they ditched her. Why? Because they’re smart. They almost lost my vote. But thankfully you scooped her royal axe-ment, and so #FeelTheBern still has my vote.
Since when is stating the obvious, as Simone Zimmerman has done, a qualification for being “radical”?
I guess things just must be that bad in the pro-Israel Jewish community, eh?
“When Linda Sourpuss (oops, Sarsour–or something like that)”
Do you think this makes you look clever, or funny? It just makes you look gross. Picturing some kind of Debbie Shlussel -looking slovenly creature right now.
@ Laurel: First, Simone Zimmerman wasn’t “canned.” Do you understand the difference between “fired” & “suspended?”
You’re missing the pt entirely. The pt of Bernie’s successful run for president is that no one in America thought a progressive Democrat, especially one as outspoken & even radical as Bernie Sanders, could win any primaries, let alone all the ones he has. No one had any idea a platform as progressive as his could succeed as well as he has. IN other words, he discovered there are millions of voters out there who either share his views, or have confidence that he’s the right man for the job. No one would’ve believed that even 6 months ago.
The same is true of Simone Zimmerman. She is the future of American Jewry. The troglodytes and dinosaurs mentioned in my post are the past. They are the right-wing 1%ers. They are the Likudist Israel Lobby fanboys. They’re history. Far more young Jews agree with Zimmerman than Lauder et al. So yes, Zimmerman’s appointment, just as Bernie’s defense of Palestinian dignity in the debate last night–is the future of American Jewry.
Bernie doesn’t need to reach out to the ADL. They hate him. He needs to look for support from unaffiliated Jews, from secular Jews, from liberal Zionists who aren’t bought & paid for by Aipac. He needs support from J St. Jews. And Zimmerman is right in the heart of that demographic.
Wrong again. She’s only radical to Aipac, Lauder, Hoenlein, et al. She’s right in the heart of the young Jewish demographic, which you clearly know nothing about.
You clearly don’t know my views of rightist snark: it ain’t funny. It’s insulting. Comments are meant to be substantive. Snark isn’t. So ditch it or die (figuratively of course).
That’s mighty white of you isn’t it? So now that we know you’re an Islamophobe, you’ll be moderated. You appear to think your racist snark is charming or witty. It ain’t.
You’re a liar. You don’t support Bernie Sanders. Now I know I’m right to moderate you. You’re a fraud. I just checked your IP and you’ve published comments using three different aliases. That’s another No No. You take one alias and only one. If you come here again breaking any other comment rules & I’ll ban your ass.
Actually Nicole, Bibi does represent the views of most of the world’s Jews. He is the duly elected leader of the State of Israel and her 6 million Jews, and he also represents the views of many, if not most, of America’s 6 million Jews.
When he was in Washington, D.C. speaking before both Houses, he received a score of standing ovations.
And you think that this is something to be proud of, or brag about? All you’re doing is making Israeli and “diaspora” Jews look bad when it comes to talking about them as a collective. You’re saying that they’re ethnically bigoted against Palestinians, Arabs generally, and Middle Eastern non-Jews generally, religiously bigoted against Muslims and Christians alike, and massively hypocritical when it comes to morality?
I mean, I don’t have a high opinion at all, to say the least, of the “mainstream” Jewish community when it comes to things like Zionism and the Palestinians and the Lebanese and the Arabs and the Iranians. You can be assured that my “nicest” sentiment is a sort of amused contempt when I see their actions and their rhetoric.
But seriously– you’re not doing anyone any favours, outside of proving who the real problem is when it comes to the failure of peace with the Palestinians and Lebanese. Per your narrative, at any rate.
@ Bernie: Actually, Bernie Bibi doesn’t represent the views of most Israelis, let alone most of world Jewry. He earned less than 25% of Knesset seats for his party. Even if you factor in other far right parties in his coalition you still get perhaps 50-55% of the vote. But once you move outside Israel his support practically disappears. The vast majority of American Jews, except the fatcat 1%ers hate him. Even polls of American Jewry have proven this to be true.
Standing ovations mean nothing. Some of the worst villains in world history got standing ovations in their day. Big deal.
Bibi has been Prime Minister of Israel longer than any other Israeli PM.
You can dislike the man, and still support his politics.
Bibi has shown great restraint as a war time Prime Minister and just invited Abbas to talk peace. Again.
And again, Abbas won’t negotiate.
” Bibi has been Prime Minister of Israel longer than any other Israeli PM.
You can dislike the man, and still support his politics.”
Again– all that shows is that Israel is worthy of being condemned over and over again for re-electing such a man.
His politics are disgusting. He’s in cahoots with Israel’s far-right and justifies the murder of civilians in the Gaza Strip and in the Palestinian West Bank.
Bibi is a bona fide Israeli expansionist.
” Bibi has shown great restraint as a war time Prime Minister and just invited Abbas to talk peace. Again.”
The first part of your sentence shows that you clearly suffer from some kind of delusion. I suggest going for a CAT scan– maybe you have a brain tumour or something?
Bibi isn’t interested in a remotely fair peace. Whining Hasbara types can’t seem to parse that simple fact, and so you whine about Abbas having some integrity.
” And again, Abbas won’t negotiate.”
Yawn. There’s no point in negotiating with Israel. Israel doesn’t want peace or a two state solution.
Disgusting liars like Bibi love whining to the world (and anyone stupid enough to believe him) that he’s “for negotiation” when the fact remains that “negotiation” to his mind means “stall and offer shit deals while we steal more Palestinian land”.
What Abbas should do is declare it open season on all IDF, Israel Border Police, and “settlers” who occupy and squat on Palestinian land in the Palestinian West Bank. All PA forces should be mobilized to take the fight to the Israeli land thieves and occupiers.
@Kyle: “What Abbas should do is ….”
Is this your prescription for dealing with Netanyahu? Is that what Bernie Sanders should advocate?
Perhaps it was a satisfying emotional outburst for you to say that, but it shows your total lack of understanding of the actual situation on the ground, as well as a desire for violence.
The reason that Abbas acts responsibly and does not follow such idiotic advice, is that such a decision would lead to unimaginable violence, further suffering on both sides but mainly of the Palestinian people, and would bring them no closer to their goal of independence. But perhaps you think that is good thing.
Furthermore, Abbas knows that only through the PA’s quiet cooperation with the Israeli army is he managing to keep the Islamist groups such as Hamas at bay. Or perhaps these groups are actually your democratic and peace loving friends?
“Israel doesn’t want peace or a two state solution.” Do you?
@ Bernie X: Israelis show their awful judgment repeatedly by re-electing him though polls say they massively dislike him and don’t trust him. That’s because all Israelis know the political system is dysfunctional and corrupt. They’d rather choose someone who they know is as corrupt as everyone else but much more careful about it than the average shlub with his hand in the till.
Great restraint? You mean he showed restraint in not carpet bombing Gaza or using a nuclear weapon on it as Pam Geller & Daniel Pipes have suggested? Restraint, because only 2,300 were killed instead of 50,000? You’re a monster.
I don’t care if Bibi invited the Lord Himself to talk peace. Bibi isn’t willing to do anything to actually earn peace. Words mean nothing as far as he’s concerned. Deeds. That’s all I care about. When he’s willing to act, to recognize a Palestinian state, share Jerusalem, withdraw to 67 borders, then come talk to us. Till then stop wasting your time & everyone’s here.
I have very limited patience for delusional commenters like you. I put you on notice. If your comments can’t even pass the basic smell test of having a modicum of truth or reality, you’re not long for this [blog’s] world.
btw she left J-Street in 2014 and her views today don’t reflect their line.
@ Tom Pessah: Fair enough. I’ve read Rania Khalek claim she’s a “non-Zionist,” but the Mondoweiss link she used to prove it, doesn’t. I very much doubt Bernie would’ve hired anyone to be Jewish outreach coordinator who is anything farther left than liberal Zionist. But I could be wrong.
And she certainly may’ve moved left since her J Street days.
“The point is that the pro-Israel fat cats are trying to dictate Bernie’s strategy and we mustn’t let them. I oppose bullies just as I oppose injustice, whether the victim is a Palestinian or a former J Street student leader.”
Right on, RS!
She may not be the best for the job, and perhaps there are a few Jews out there who  care for social justice and to fight climate change , love Bibi and think him the cat’s pyjamas, and  would not “Feel the Bern” unless assisted by a “Jewish coordinator”. Guess she’d rub such a person the wrong way.
Maybe when he returns from Italy he can appoint a “Jewish Coordinator” from, say, JVP !? (I mean, J Street is a bit drab at least at the higherst leadership level — but perhaps only there: like any other group these days with authoratarian leadership, many of the J Street troops are marching ahead of the leader.
I can only say that I fully sympathise with Ms Zimmerman’s sentiments and her choice of words, and might we assume that the Abe Foxmans of this world, who don’t care a jot about truth and justice, but presumably a lot about respectability, can generate a bit more understanding for Ms Zimmerman’s vocabulary after the latest revelations about Bibi in Haaretz – I mean the French criminal company he keeps or kept isn’t respectable is it.?
As to the hasbarist here who tries to suggest that Jews inside and outside Israel are in a large majority behind Netanyahu – who is he trying to fool? It isn’t even true for Israel:
“Israelis Have Had Enough of Netanyahu, Poll Shows
IIndeed, that is the message that comes through loud and clear in all the internal surveys conducted by the parties. Netanyahu will have chalked up at least eight consecutive years in power, maybe nine or 10, by the time the next election is held. He may be hungry for more, but the people have had their fill.
This analysis is buttressed by a special Haaretz public opinion poll conducted this week.”
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.710777
@Arie, on this I think we are in agreement– we need to get Netanyahu out. His replacement would probably not be to your liking either, but it will still be an improvement.
The problem is the Netanyahu is a skilled and manipulative politician (in the likes of Erdogan) who knows how to use populism and the Israeli political system to stay in power. But his anxiety and suspicious nature prevents him from actually doing anything proactively. He only reacts. The system is dysfunctional and there is nobody who even approaches Netanyahu’s political skills and experience. The electorate is very factional and it is very difficult to put together a functional coalition. I would be happy of somebody else would come along and replace him. Only somebody in the center of the political spectrum would have a chance. But I fear we are stuck with him for a long time unless something major unforeseen happens.
You should be aware by now that the left and the center are almost non-existent both qualitatively and quantitatively.
@ Yehuda: I can’t speak for Arie on this, but I presume his views and mine are similar on this. Getting Bibi out is neither the end or even the beginning of the end of the problem. If anything it’s the beginning of the beginning to paraphrase Churchill. If you get him out chances are he will be replaced by someone as bad or likely far worse. Even if you replace him with a center-right figure like Herzog it solves nothing. The system goes on as before with a different shade of fig leaf covering the vital parts of Occupation. Transformation is the only solution. ANd for that to happen there must be some sort of international intervention a la Kosovo. Israelis have neither the interest or will to solve this problem equitably.
@Richard- “ANd for that to happen there must be some sort of international intervention a la Kosovo…”
Do you mean the bombing part or the diplomatic part? Obviously the former isn’t going to happen. I am actually in favor of BOTH sides being forced into a diplomatic solution. I agree that there is not will on the Israeli side. But the same holds true on the Palestinian side (I know we have debated this before…),
But now we’re going too far off topic so I won’t go into it here (unless you want to)
But getting back to Bibi, here is a fundamental question. I get your assertion that your opposition is not just to Bibi, but to the whole political framework. But, to what degree to you hold people responsible for their leaders? Both in democratic and non-democratic governments, leaders have their supporters and their opponents. Circumstances lead to a certain candidate becoming the leader. Sometimes its a gray zone. Do we hold Turks accountable for Erdogan? Are Gazans responsible for their Hamas leadership? Were you responsible for George Bush, even if you opposed him?
In Israel, a plurality, but not a majority, supports Bibi. (Based on election results, and polls that Arie quoted)
Sometimes leaders are a mirror reflection of society, but often not. Clearly, in Israel’s history there have been a broad spectrum of leaders (albeit all Zionist). It can’t be that society changes so frequently and quickly. This would be surrendering to the well-known “attribution” bias that psychologists have known about for decades. . More likely, it is because of circumstances and external factors.
Think of American electoral politics. Has American society really swung so radically right or left in the past 25 years? Voting for Clinton twice, then GWB twice, than a black president? Or was it more a reaction to something?
End of screed.
@yehuda: All good and interesting questions.
I don’t support military intervention in the Israel-Palestine conflict, nor do I think it would be necessary to achieve an international or imposed solution.
As for the question of how leaders become that in democratic societies. I think Israel’s political dysfunction derives in part because of the fragmented nature of political parties & because of the parlimentary, rather than executive system of government. There are many imperfections in American government. But I think a presidential system is better for political stability. Of course, there are countries which do quite well with parliamentary systems like Britain, Germany, etc. But they have had such systems for centuries in some cases & so have worked out the deficiencies and kinks, so to speak.
Israel is a young country and having a parliamentary system without strong executive powers is a recipe for disaster.
Of course, this is far from the only thing wrong with the Israeli political system, so I wouldn’t want to focus on it as such.
I do think that citizens who vote for a leader who becomes a dictator or who violates constitutional law are responsible for his actions. I never voted for George Bush so I don’t feel guilty of his sins. But in a sense I have a moral obligation as a citizen in the face of his crimes. I have an obligation to oppose them. If I didn’t do so, I think I would be shirking my civic duty. That is why I do blame Israelis who either voted for these idiot politicians or who don’t protest loudly at their misbegotten behavior.
Further, my problem with the Israeli system is that those parties which could make a significant contribution to transforming the country are marginalized for systemic reasons and due to Israeli institutional racism. So in a sense the system is setup for failure, which is why I use the word “dysfunction” to describe it.
@Richard: I appreciate your considered response. Even though we disagree on many things, it is good to know that a dialogue is possible in an attempt to find points of convergence.