Bernie Sanders could be US president in 2020 and this is what it means for Israel and the Middle East

Its one thing for a black candidate to go for the black vote in the US, but for an American Jew to go for the American Jewish vote is a very different matter

By Robert Fisk

January 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House"   If youre an American, hes still out there among the maybe candidates. But if you live in the Middle East whether youre Arab or Israeli, Muslim, Jew or Christian you should keep your eye on Bernie Sanders.

Hes no shoo-in, of course  certainly not after his pitiful handover to the awful Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. I still remember shouting No! myself when I heard his fans cursing his decision to stand down in favour of Clinton. But the guy just might have the guts, even the courage, to stand up to the ally to whom the US always gives groveling, uncritical, slavish, immoral support.

Note how at this point I dont need to identify Israel as the ally in question. Nor did I have to mention in my first paragraph that Sanders is one of the two most prominent Jewish members of the US Senate. In fact, Sanders wears his origins, race, religion, social background and integrity so easily that he comes across, even to a cynical European still living in a pre-Brexit world (just), as a patently nice guy. Unlike Donald Trump, hes sane. But unlike Obama, hes not so goody-two-shoes or optic-obsessed to think that he can fandangle voters with ageing good looks and the right heart.

Its one thing for a black candidate to go for the black vote in the US, but for an American Jew to go for the American Jewish vote is a very different matter.

Sanders campaign is not just going to be about economics or the futility of Mexican walls. It might well be about Iran. Its going to raise a lot of questions among the Christian fundamentalists. But, most importantly of all, its going to be about Israel. And, if this liberal intellectual is going to be a serious candidate for 2020, hes going to meet plenty of latent anti-Semitism in the United States. It took long enough for John Kennedy, the first Catholic American to become president, to shake off the claim that he would be more loyal to the Pope than to America.

Just imagine how Sanders will have to confront the same bigots when they insinuate that hes more loyal to Israel than to his own country. Hes not as one television presenter once suggested a dual national. Hes not an Israeli. Hes the child of Polish Jewish immigrants.

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