At the core of Corbyn’s foreign policy is an obsession with Israel, which has manifested as incessant sneering about zionism. Sanders hasn’t stoked rage against zionists, perhaps because he is the descendant of Holocaust survivors, who spent several months living on a Kibbutz near Haifa in his early 20s. Although he tends to avoid talking about his ethnic identity, he published a recent essay in Jewish Currents, where he wrote about his “pride and admiration for Israel” and the “enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution.”
That said, Sanders is often highly critical of Israel. He has toyed with the idea of leveraging U.S. military aid to prod Israel into ending the occupation of the West Bank, for instance, a substantial break with the consensus. And he has proven reluctant to call out anti-Semitism in the ranks of his own supporters, including from one of his surrogates. On the subject of Corbyn’s bigotry, he has remained disappointingly silent.
But the point is that the rise of the left could have gone much worse for the Democrats. It could have taken the form of an apologist for dictators and a fomentor of anti-Semitism. Attacks on globalization could have veered into coded smears of globalists. The rightful flaying Wall Street deserves could have been expressed in nasty tropes. Perhaps judging a politician in relation to Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the most stringent moral test one could apply, but it’s worth a moment’s gratitude.