Sanders campaign suspends coordinator for criticism of Netanyahu
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has suspended its national Jewish outreach coordinator just two days after hiring her because of a 2015 Facebook post criticizing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Simone Zimmerman’s hiring had been praised as progress in a sea of change in discourse around Palestine in American electoral politics.
News of the suspension came April 14, one day after the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing news outlet, published a Facebook post which Zimmerman made in 2015. In the post, she called Netanyahu “an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole.”
“F*** you, Bibi,” she added.
Zimmerman had later edited the post to replace “asshole” with “politician” and “F*** you” to “Shame on you.”
Outside of social media, Zimmerman is an avid advocate of Palestinian rights. During the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, she helped found IfNotNow, an umbrella organization of Jews opposing the occupation.
“We know that Jewish liberation is inextricably tied to the liberation of all people,” she said of her advocacy work.
Zimmerman’s hiring and quick suspension comes after Sanders’ planned speech at AIPAC, published last month, and his statements at last week’s Democratic debate, indicated his attitude toward Israel was decidedly more critical than that of other candidates.
“It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf,” Sanders said last month.
And at last Thursday night’s debate, Sanders stated, “[i]n the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace… we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”
But that statement came on the same day that his campaign suspended Zimmerman.
Many of Sanders’ supporters, and others in Jewish and pro-Palestinian communities, were disappointed to hear of Zimmerman’s suspension and are calling for her to be reinstated. Groups such as Jews for Bernie, Open Hillel, and Jewish Voice for Peace posted in support of Zimmerman. Many used the hashtag #StandWithSimone.
The Sanders campaign has not publicly addressed the issue of Zimmerman’s suspension or the possibility of her reinstatement.