The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) recently broke the news that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had hired an avowed anti-Zionist as his national Jewish outreach director.
Simone Zimmerman is a supporter of the extremist Jewish Voice for peace – which the ADL named as one of America's top 10 anti-Israel hate groups – and an advocate for the anti-Israel BDS boycott movement, who has regularly led far-left protests against establishment Jewish American groups such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
A taste of her beliefs can be found in a column she wrote for the far-left Haaretz publication last February:
"We’re paying attention to what’s happening in Israel — and we are angry," she wrote.
"The hypocrisy of expecting feel-good social justice projects to offset millennials’ deep outrage at the grave injustices committed by the Jewish state is almost too much to bear. No public relations trick can save Israel’s image. The problem isn’t with the hasbara [public relations]. 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."
She went further still, suggesting to bring "American Jews to do civil resistance work in solidarity with West Bank Palestinians."
But while the JTA and others made to with mulling her journey from a nominally pro-Israel Jew to radical anti-Zionist – which began, unsurprisingly, with her affiliation to the liberal J Street group which campaigns for American pressure on Israel – some of her more extreme beliefs went unreported.
Some of these are easily accessible, such as a numerous posts on her Twitter account which insist that anti-Zionism – namely, denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination – isn't anti-Semitism (Britain's former Chief Rabbi certainly disagrees.)
Even more shocking is another claim Zimmerman proudly endorses in the Tweet above, which linked to a Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) online form encouraging people to lobby the University of California not to change its Principles against Intolerance to condemn anti-Semitism. (The amendment passed anyway on March 23 2016).
The pre-prepared letter – composed by JVP – absurdly claims that "it is irresponsible to make an unsupported claim that anti-Semitism is “often expressed (as) assertions of prejudice and intolerance toward Jewish people and culture.”" According to JVP – and Zimmerman – "assertions of prejudice and intolerance towards Jewish people and culture" are somehow deemed acceptable.
This, then, is the face of "Jewish outreach" for the Sanders campaign: avowed anti-Zionism and views considered extreme even by many Jews on the left. Perhaps more worryingly, however, are the numbers of young American Jews – albeit still a minority – failed by the US Jewish education system, for whom such ideas will in fact resonate.
And if a private Facebook post reported by the Forward is anything to go by, she's certainly confident they will:
"The first Jew in history just won a primary, as a proud socialist calling for political revolution, backed 85-15 by millennials," Zimmerman wrote.
"Hil (Hillary Clinton – ed.) thinks she can win us back with hawkish Israel policies? Wake the f—k up."