I Went to High School with Bernie Sanders’ Israel-Shaming ‘Jewish Outreach Director’

Editor's Note: As of the evening of April 14, Simone Zimmerman was suspended from the Bernie Sanders campaign, partially because of her Israel comments and viewpoints.


As an April Fools' Day joke, I posted on my Facebook profile that I had accepted a position as the California press director for the Bernie Sanders campaign. I added such realistic details as, "we’re having a phone bank event tomorrow" where "vegan pizza will be served." The address I listed as the campaign headquarters was actually the Laugh Factory comedy club here in Los Angeles. It was hilarious to me how many people came out of the woodwork thinking that I was seriously working for Sanders’ campaign.

So you can imagine my surprise when only a few days later one of my Facebook friends, Simone Zimmerman, posted a very similar message that was actually true. She had accepted a position with Bernie’s campaign, as his "Jewish outreach director." It made me laugh that someone I had gone to high school with (albeit not good friends) was working for a candidate who is so clearly at the opposite end of the political spectrum as I am, and that she actually was suggesting people come and volunteer at a phone bank the next day. (No, their headquarters is not at the Laugh Factory.)

But then I saw this article, as it was being shared among our small high school community: "Sanders campaign’s new Jewish outreach director is outspoken Israel critic." The article, posted in The Times of Israel, really alarmed me and highlighted how rampant the anti-Israel viewpoint is even in the Jewish community. So I figured I’d address it here.

Before I even delve into this, let me be clear that this isn’t an attack piece on Simone. She’s a product of her environment and our generation, and she isn’t a Bernie supporter or an Israel-shamer in a vacuum.