American Jews, It’s Time to Get Behind Joe Biden

March 4, 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden gives a speech on his foreign policy plan in New York City, July 11, 2019. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Like millions of people across the nation, I was glued to my computer screen the night of Super Tuesday. Around 11:30 p.m., I was certain I was witnessing a major and unprecedented event in the history of American politics and did what any sensible political science student would do — I called out sick from my Wednesday classes and logged onto Twitter, where I remained until 4 a.m. 

The night of March 3 truly was extraordinary. A month ago, Joe Biden’s campaign momentum was quickly fleeting. His supporters posted an abysmal turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire. The Biden energy of early 2019 was lampooned daily on news media channels by liberals, moderates and conservatives.

But Super Tuesday changed this trajectory. After Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) suspended their campaigns on March 1 and March 2, respectively, Democrats from Texas’ Beto O’Rourke to U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly of Arizona rushed to endorse the former vice president with such a rapid fervor that I was sincerely worried that NBC correspondent Steve Kornacki might pass out from the onslaught of breaking news.

The Democrats coalesced around the Biden campaign with little hesitation, the “icing on the cake” being Mike Bloomberg’s withdrawal on March 4 after the national failure and embarrassment his campaign proved to be on March 3.

It’s clear, heading into the rest of 2020, that American Jews have a choice. We either can settle for leftist anti-Semitism, which attacks and smears Zionism and the State of Israel and those who feel a connection to it, or vote for Donald Trump’s anti-Semitism, which emboldens violent white supremacists and endangers every American religious and ethnic minority, including Jews.

 It’s clear, heading into the rest of 2020, that American Jews have a choice.

Or, we can reject both.

I am not arguing that the anti-Semitism festering in Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the anti-Semitism on full display in the Trump administration are equal to each other in regard to how dangerous they are to the American Jew. I am arguing, however, that American Jews shouldn’t have to decide between two uncomfortable choices on the basis of their Judaism. 

Biden’s performance on Super Tuesday promised “a third way” for the American Jew.

This alternative was made clear by Biden’s prerecorded speech on March 1 at the American  Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. , in which he called for a bold resurrection of traditional American Jewish values.

The former vice president nods reassuringly to the vast majority of American Jews, and validates that we can keep our liberal values, our goals of expanding health care, and our antipathy to bigotry and Trumpism, while also opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and supporting a Jewish state in the Middle East. Biden promises Jewish Americans that we can act on our commitment to the environment, that we can address criminal injustice, that we can ensure a woman’s right to choose is never infringed upon, yet remain confident and clear in our support of Israel.

Biden does not encourage dual loyalty tropes, does not use support of Israel as an excuse to be Islamophobic, does not insult Jewish donors by claiming “they want to control their own politicians,” and does not allow his fundamental belief in Jewish self-determination to excuse allyship with far-right fanatics.

Simultaneously, Biden believes that Israelis and Palestinians must be treated fairly in regard to American foreign policy; he is proudly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; expresses contempt for expanding settlements and annexation; and shares the American Jewish yearning for a Palestinian state. He does all of this while refusing to delegitimize or demonize Israel. He refuses to apply double standards to Israel, refuses to align himself with those in the Democratic Party who engage in anti-Semitic tropes, and sternly condemns human rights violations in the Levant region, regardless of who commits them. 

At a time when anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise, when anti-Semites on the right and left feel more empowered and emboldened than ever, it is in every American Jew’s best interest, Democrat or Republican, to rally behind this candidate and ensure he sits in the Oval Office come January.

Blake Flayton is a student at George Washington University. 

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