The idea of an atheistic Jewish socialist from Vermont (by way of Brooklyn) doesn’t seem to nonplus the voters, at least in the Democratic Party. Good for them. America eschews religious tests as a matter of law and principle.
Yet for a man who wants to be the first Jewish president, Sanders certainly seems to be bent on avoiding the subject of the time he spent in Israel. Time for him to explain himself.
It’s long been known that the only self-professed socialist in the Senate spent time on a kibbutz, or communal farm. Nothing wrong with that. But so tight-lipped has Sanders been about it that the Israeli daily Haaretz put its reporters on the mystery.
“One of Israel’s best-kept secrets” is how the paper described the name of Sanders’ kibbutz. At one point it thought it had found the senator’s name in a kibbutz archive, but it turned out to be a Bernice Stamder.
Haaretz finally solved the mystery last week, with the discovery, in its own files, of an interview Sanders gave to the paper back in 1990. In it, the future senator speaks of spending time on a kibbutz called Shaar Haamakim.
The kibbutz, according to the Times of Israel, belonged to an Israeli political party called Mapam, which had in the 1950s “been a communist, Soviet-affiliated faction.” It said kibbutz members “had admired Joseph Stalin until his death.”
They would, the Times of Israel reports, “celebrate May Day with red flags.” They spoke of “controlling the means of production, taking from each according to his abilities and giving to each according to his needs.”
It may be that by 1963, when Sanders spent several months on the kibbutz, the place had calmed down. Yet come 1990, when Sanders was interviewed by Haaretz, he was still none too happy with Israel — or America.