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The Most Jewish Election in U.S. History, “And No One Cares”

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
April 2020

With two Jewish candidates for president in the Democratic primaries, argues  
Satya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of The Forward, in The Washington Post  
(March 1, 2020), “This Democratic primary contest is...a historic race for  
American Jews...The faceoff between the Jewish billionaire and the Jewish  
socialist is the most Jewish political moment in American history and  
predictions have abounded that a wave of hatred is about to hit...I’m not  
worried....While Jews may see two 78-year-old Jewish men running against  
each other...that’s not how America writ large receives this race. Sanders  
and Bloomberg are rarely registering in mainstream politics as Jewish. It’s  
a final gift from the goldeneh Medina—-the golden land, as Yiddish-speaking  
immigrants once called the United States—at a time when American Jews have  
never needed it more.”  
Ungar-Sargon provides this assessment: “The fact that Sanders and Bloomberg  
are Jewish is something Americans barely seem to notice about them; it  
simply receded into the background of their bids for the presidency. Each  
candidate has been allowed to bring his Jewishness to the fore exactly as  
often as he would like and not a jot more. This is an amazing fact, the true  
revolutionary aspect of this election cycle. In the parlance of our times,  
you might say they’re demonstrating that most coveted of American  
commodities: white privilege. Sanders and Bloomberg are able to simply blend  
into the mostly male, mostly white Democratic field. That didn’t happen for  
Cory Booker or Kamala Harris, or for Julian Castro or Andrew Yang, or for  
Elizabeth Warren, or Hillary Clinton in 2016, for that matter. For women and  
other minorities, race and gender are still inseparable from public persona.  
They don’t get to decide how they are seen; America sees them first and  
foremost as women or black or Latino or Asian. Not so for white Jewish men  
anymore. The America that accepted Joe Lieberman keeping kosher and  
observing Shabbat on the campaign trail in 2000 has gone a step further: In  
2020, amid a rise in anti-Semitic vandalism and violence, two white Jews are  
able to run not on the Jewishness that unites them but on what distinguishes  
them from each other——which, because God has a sense of humor, is their  
approach to money.”  
She concludes: “it turns out that in addition to gifting Jews the right to  
practice their religion freely, America had one more gift: the right to make  
our Jewishness disappear to our fellow citizens....I hope that...we remember  
to stop and behold the wonder of this moment and recommit to ensuring that  
all Americans are granted the gifts America has bestowed upon us Jews in  
campaigns to come—swiftly and in our lifetimes.”*

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© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.