In a speech during his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders, Democratic Senator for Vermont and a self-confessed socialist, excoriated Israel for “indiscriminately killing 10,000 innocent Palestinian civilians” during the last Gaza conflict. Now everyone familiar with the last Gaza campaign knows that the total number of casualties recorded by the UN and even the Palestinians themselves was ca.2,200. This is the official figure also accepted by Israel. But, of these the IDF estimates that ca. 40% were combatants, most of them terrorists not in uniform, which brings the actual civilian casualty figure to ca. 1,400. Regrettable, but nowhere near the 10,000 figure asserted by Bernie.
Many have criticized Bernie for this factual error, and some expect him to issue a retraction. But, this is missing the point entirely, this figure is a message to his left-wing supporters, that he will be a harsh critic of Israel when/if in office. He and most left-wing supporters of the Palestinians believe that Israel caused not only 10,000 deaths, but maybe even a million deaths of Palestinians, its a holocaust! We are not talking here about facts, but about what people with this mind-set believe. This is keeping the faith, this is telling it like it is, this is the message. Israel is the killer state, Israel is at fault, Israel must be made to pay.
Now some might call this anti-Israelism, a sacred belief of the left, devoid of the need for facts and truth. Since this was uttered by Sanders, a Jew, how can we call it anti-Semitism, as we often do. But, in fact some of the most anti-Semitic biases are expressed by Jews. It’s simple camouflage, just as when Jews sought to pass as Christians during the Inquisition in Spain or the Holocaust in Europe, it was not enough to just pretend to be Christian, you had to actually be anti-Semitic to prove your authenticity. In order for Bernie to prove he is authentically not simply a “Jewish” candidate within the American context, he must criticize Israel in the harshest possible terms, and if making up a few extra thousand deaths is part of the process, so be it. His true supporters would expect nothing less. It does not matter whether or not Israel actually killed 10,000 Palestinians, what matters is that Bernie and his followers firmly believe that they did.