It’s hardly a state secret that among pro-Israel moderates in the Democratic Party, anxiety levels have been surging together with the polling numbers for Sen. Bernie Sanders, now undeniably the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination.
On the surface, the public hand-wringing regarding the prospect of Sanders’ nomination involves his positions on aid to Israel, and the belief he is a longshot candidate against Donald Trump. But not far below the surface are worries over the anti-Semitic fallout, should a Jewish socialist become the head of the spear in a contest with the president.
“A Trump-Sanders contest would be a political nightmare for American Jewry,” worries Yossi Klein Halevi in his blog at The Times of Israel, fearing a “toxic atmosphere [in which] pro-Sanders and pro-Trump Jews would each accuse the other of betraying Jewish values. And both would be right.”
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets supporters in Denver after a campaign stop late Sunday, February 16, 2020. David Zalubowski,AP
Now moderates are scrambling to find a way to avoid a Sanders candidacy, as Vice President Joe Biden’s star fades rapidly.
A bright new prospect for the “anybody but Sanders” camp has arisen in the form of billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, eclipsing the alternative options of Pete Buttigieg or Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Touting Bloomberg enthusiastically, Jewish pundit Tom Friedman of The New York Times made a case for “a moderate progressive with a heart of gold but the toughness of a rattlesnake” and “the resources to build a machine big enough to take on the Trump machine.”
As enthusiasm for Bloomberg grows, it is now the progressive left’s turn to freak out. Most visibly rankled, the Jewish left, which long ago anointed Sanders as their favorite irascible uncle has now cast Bloomberg in the role of the arrogant relative whose efforts to buy their love can’t hide his true nature.