Bernie Sanders Emphasizes Jewish Roots in New Campaign Video

Clip otherwise focuses almost entirely on the threat that the Vermont senator says President Donald Trump poses to Jews and other minorities

Ron Kampeas
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Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a rally at the Ames City Auditorium in Ames, Iowa., January 25, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a rally at the Ames City Auditorium in Ames, Iowa., January 25, 2020.Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP
Ron Kampeas

Bernie Sanders launched a campaign video highlighting his Jewish identity and casting President Donald Trump as part of the white nationalist threat.

The four-minute video posted Thursday night on Sanders’ Twitter feed, interpolates excerpts from Sanders’ speech last year to J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, with commentary by Joel Rubin, the campaign’s Jewish outreach director.

It starts with Sanders’ declaration of pride in being Jewish. “I’m very proud to be Jewish and look forward to becoming the first Jewish president in the history of this country,” Sanders says.

During his 2016 run for the Democratic nomination, Sanders at first played down his Jewish background, although he was the first Jewish major-party candidate to win nominating contests. This cycle, he has emphasized his Jewishness.

The video otherwise focuses almost entirely on the threat that Sanders says President Donald Trump poses to Jews and other minorities.

“Jewish values teach us that community matters, that tolerance matters, that engaging the other matters,” Rubin says, and notes his roots in Pittsburgh where in 2018 a gunman killed 11 worshippers at The Tree of Life synagogue complex, “some of whom were friends of my parents.”

“We live in a perilous time where not only are white nationalists attacking our synagogues and raising hate speech on the internet, we have a white nationalist right now sitting in the White House,” Rubin says, referring to Trump’s equivocation in condemning neo-Nazis after a deadly march in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

“We need to have someone in office who gets it, gets it in his kishkes, understands what it really means to ensure that we are healing our world,” Rubin says.

The video does not address Israel policy at all. Sanders has said he is pro-Israel and would work to secure the country, but also has sharply criticized its treatment of Palestinians and says he would leverage aid to Israel to make changes.

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