Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s newly hired national Jewish outreach coordinator is a staunch anti-Israel activist with a history of blaming Israelis for committing, and the American Jewish community for defending, what she says are human-rights abuses of Palestinians.
As first reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Simone Zimmerman has opposed the Israeli “occupation” in Yehudah and Shomron and supported the BDS movement against Israel.
Zimmerman is a leader of IfNotNow, described as “an emerging movement of young American Jews working to end their community’s support for the occupation.”
In an opinion article written in Haaretz on Feb. 29, Zimmerman wrote about what she deemed “millennials’ deep outrage at the grave injustices committed by the Jewish state.”
“What we need is for the community to stop willfully blinding itself to the disastrous reality of holding millions of Palestinians under military occupation,” wrote Zimmerman.
“We need the community to stop justifying policies that deny Palestinians the ability to move freely, to sleep safely in their homes without the fear of a military raid, to access water and resources, to live without terror that their homes could be bombed to rubble, and to protest the unjust conditions of their lives nonviolently. None of these policies are moral, and none of these policies make Jews safer … The problem is nearly 50 years of occupation. The problem is rampant racism in Israeli society. The problem is attacks on human rights defenders by extremists and by the state. The problem is a Jewish establishment that ignores or justifies all of this.”
Among her anti-Israel activities reported by JTA, Zimmerman was involved in the BDS movement while a student at the University of California, Berkeley; she was active in the liberal J Street group; and she protested outside offices of American Jewish groups, such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations, during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza.
The hiring of a Jewish outreach coordinator with an unambiguously anti-Israel record may exacerbate the criticisms that Sanders, himself Jewish, has faced from many in the Jewish community, who see him as the least supportive of Israel among all the major presidential candidates.
In a recent interview with the New York Daily News, Sanders significantly overstated the number of Arabs killed in the Gaza conflict, though he said he was unsure of the precise number. After that gaffe, Sanders was lambasted by Jews in America and Israel.