Sanders Gets Foreign Policy Advice From Israel Critics Zogby, J Street

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

TEL AVIV – Bernie Sanders admitted to seeking foreign policy advice from critics of the Jewish state.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, the Democratic candidate gave the following reply when asked about his plans for Secretary of Defense: “We talked to people like Jim Zogby, talked to the people on J Street, to get a broad perspective of the Middle East.”

While the George Soros-funded J Street describes itself as a liberal, pro-Israel lobby, it has faced mounting criticism for the policies it advocates, which many argue are harmful to the Jewish state.

In 2009, the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. refused to send the ambassador to J Street’s first national conference, explaining that the organization’s policies could harm Israel’s interests.

“In response to the question about J Street’s invitation to participate in its conference, the Embassy of Israel has been privately communicating its concerns over certain policies of the organization that may impair the interests of Israel,” the embassy said in a statement.

“Accordingly, the embassy will send an observer to the conference and will follow its proceedings with interest.”

J Street supports the international nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has heavily lobbied against on the grounds of Israeli and U.S. national security. J Street also advocates a Palestinian unity government between Fatah and the Hamas terrorist organization.

President of the Arab American Institute James Zogby, meanwhile, is notoriously anti-Israel. He refers to the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) movement as a “legitimate and moral response to Israeli policy.”

In the past, Zogby has attempted to rationalize Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, saying that he was trying to understand “why the perpetrators [of terrorist acts] acted as they did or why there are people whose anger and despair bring them to support this or that crime.”

Zogby, who is of Lebanese descent, has described Hezbollah terrorists as “the Lebanese armed resistance.”

Last year, Sanders was asked by Vox, an online magazine, if he identified himself as a Zionist, or supportive of a homeland for the Jewish nation.

“A Zionist? What does that mean?” the senator replied. “Want to define what the word is? Do I think Israel has the right to exist? Yeah, I do. Do I believe that the United States should be playing an even-handed role in terms of its dealings with the Palestinian community in Israel? Absolutely I do.”

“Again, I think that you have volatile regions in the world, the Middle East is one of them, and the United States has got to work with other countries around the world to fight for Israel’s security and existence at the same time as we fight for a Palestinian state where the people in that country can enjoy a decent standard of living, which is certainly not the case right now,” Sanders told Vox.

“My long-term hope is that instead of pouring so much military aid into Israel, into Egypt, we can provide more economic aid to help improve the standard of living of the people in that area,” he added.

On Friday, Breitbart Jerusalem revealed that in the 1960’s, Sanders volunteered at a kibbutz in northern Israel as the guest of a Marxist-socialist youth movement with a revolutionary mission.

For months, Israeli reporters have been searching for the name of the kibbutz on which Sanders spent several months in 1963. The presidential candidate, who has not been shy about his affinity for socialism, was reluctant to disclose much about his Jewish upbringing or his time in Israel in 1963, where he traveled with his first wife, Deborah Shiling.

Sanders’ campaign has conspicuously refused to answer inquiries about the identity of the kibbutz.

On Thursday, Jerusalem Post Intelligence and Security columnist Yossi Melman revealed that Sanders volunteered the information about the kibbutz during an interview with the reporter in 1990, while Melman was the intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.

The 1990 interview, discovered in the Haaretz archive, cites Sanders saying that in 1963 he spent several months at Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim in northern Israel as a guest of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, which was affiliated with the kibbutz.

The information has garnered some news media attention from Israel-themed outlets.

Yet not a single news report reviewed by Breitbart News mentioned that Hashomer Hatzair was an openly Marxist movement that sought to use Zionism as the first stage of a utopian plan for Israel. The second stage was to be a revolution to transform Israel into an Arab-Jewish socialist paradise.

Hashomer Hatzair is still around. It currently identifies as a progressive Zionist organization and is a member of the International Falcon Movement–Socialist Education International.

Hashomer Hatzair runs a youth program in the U.S. that “encourages youth to build progressive Jewish values, explore connections to Israel and the Jewish community, and develop a commitment to social, environmental, and economic justice.”

The organization, founded in Europe in 1913 to prepare young socialists for the move to Palestine, has rebranded its mission numerous times. It once was a revolutionary Marxist organization.

Movement members first settled in Mandatory Palestine in 1919 and seven years later founded several kibbutzim as well as a political party called the Socialist League of Palestine.

In a lengthy history for the Van Leer Jerusalem Foundation, Hebrew University Political Science Professor and prolific author Shlomo Avineri in 1977 documented the Marxist revolutionary ideology of the Hashomer Hatzair movement.

In a 404-page work titled, “Varieties of Marxism,” Avineri recounted the Marxist “baptism” of Hashomer Hatzair, which he referred to as HH, in the 1920s as “one of the most exciting intellectual chapters in the modern history of Zionism and Palestine.”

He continued:

It bears testimony to the historical essentiality of Marxism in those years, which saw a new wave of Marxism that was to grow and intensify until it reached its political peak in the 1950s, whereupon it would disintegrate in the face of political reality.

Unlike other pragmatic socialist movements at the time, Hashomer Hatzair “refused to accept constructivism as the main content of class war in the Palestinian reality, or to contend that socialism could be realized without revolution.”

Hashomer Hatzair saw Zionism, or support for a Jewish national homeland, as an entryway into the Jewish state in order to accomplish a socialist revolution in two phases.  It enumerated this mission by creating its own “Etapist Theory,” according to which “Jewish socialist society would be realized in two stages,” wrote Avineri.

The historian elaborated:

In the first stage, the Jewish national home would be established in Eretz Israel, based on a productive and self-sufficient economic foundation. In the second stage, the social revolution itself would be accomplished.

The function of the Zionist movement and Zionist cooperation was limited to the first stage only; it would be terminated after the economic, cultural, and political foundations had been laid in Palestine, and after the national funds, based on national donations, were no longer required. Partnership with the Zionists was therefore considered only temporary.

The social revolution was to be realized, however, by the international organization of the workers, i.e. Jewish-Arab collaboration. This “theory of stages” formulated by Meir Yaari had many advantages for HH. It could continue to participate in the Zionist Organization, to build socialist cells within the framework of the existing regime, and, at the same time, to maintain revolutionary radicalism.

While that radicalism may now be tempered, the group continues to maintain its socialist identity.

In 2008, Haaretz reported on the continuing efforts of Hashomer Hatzair to spread socialism in Israel and worldwide.

The newspaper reported on a world conference marking the movement’s 95th anniversary that attempted to update the organization’s basic tenets. Participants in the 2008 conference could not agree on which style of socialism to adopt. “While Latin American graduates favored classic socialism, the European delegates sided with democratic socialism,” reported Haaretz.

The newspaper continued, quoting a delegate from Argentina:

According to Dana Merweiss, from Argentina, the way to implement socialism today is by education and creating communities with socialist awareness.

Levine said the movement in the past required its members to work within its community, but today “we say we should also work outside our community as part of the fulfillment of the principle of socialism. In Argentina we work in poor neighborhoods, Jewish and non-Jewish,” he said.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.