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A Look Back: Top Jewish Moments of the Democratic Primaries

A Look Back: Top Jewish Moments of the Democratic Primaries

Is it just us, or was this an exceptionally Jewy primary season?

Since her decisive victory in the June 7th primaries, Hillary Clinton has finally clinched the Democratic nomination, effectively ending the primary season. Still, between Senator Bernie Sanders and Clinton battling it out for the top spot, it’s been a particularly Jewy primary season. Here are some of the top Jewish moments of the campaign.

1. Bernie becomes the first Jew to win a primary.

On February 9, 2016 Bernie Sanders became the first Jewish presidential candidate to ever win a primary. He won the New Hampshire Primary, the second contest of the primary season after the Iowa caucuses, by winning over 60% of the votes compared to Hillary’s 39%.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters after winning the New Hampshire Democratic Primary February 9, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire. Win McNamee/Getty Images

2. Hillary's speech at AIPAC makes a splash.

During an election year, AIPAC has a policy of inviting the remaining presidential candidates to address their annual Policy Conference, held in Washington D.C. While all the Republican candidates attended the conference, Clinton was the only Democratic candidate to do so. Senator Sanders was the only major party candidate to miss the conference as he was scheduled to campaign in Utah before the state's upcoming primary. Sanders offered to address AIPAC via video, but AIPAC denied that request, claiming it was against their stated policy. On March 21st Clinton delivered her speech to the around 18,000 attendees.

3. Hillary’s controversial advisor.

Before the primaries officially began, the Secretary of State found herself in hot water with pro-Israel supporters when emails between her and one of her closest advisors, Sid Blumenthal, went public. Blumenthal’s son, Max, is an anti-Zionist writer whose controversial book, “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel,” fiercely criticizes Israel.

Sidney Blumenthal (C), a longtime advisor to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arrives to be deposed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi in the House Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol June 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

4. Bernie’s Daily News misstep raises serious questions.

Leading up to the New York Primary, Bernie Sanders met with the editorial board of the New York Daily News in an attempt to secure their endorsement. During the interview, Sanders criticized Israel and their use of disproportionate response in the 2014 Gaza War. During his critique, Sanders incorrectly stated that over 10,000 innocent Palestinian civilians were killed during the operation, even though most news sources place the number closer to around 2,300.

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to throngs of supporters in Prospect Park to hear Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak on April 17, 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

5. Brooklyn debate turns up the heat.

The difference of opinion between the candidates on the question of America’s relationship to Israel reached a boiling point during a debate in Brooklyn on April 14th. The Senator from Vermont alluded to the brief time he spent living in Israel before appealing for more help for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Clinton responded by defending Israel’s right to defend itself against incoming rocket fire and reminded the audience of her role in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2012.

6. Bernie pressed on the ‘Jewish question’ — until he talks.

As the first Jewish presidential candidate to make it so far, the question of Sanders’ Judaism and how it plays a role in his life arose a number of times. During a Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan on March 6th, the Senator responded to a question about his Jewish faith by stating that he is “proud to be Jewish.” While fielding questions at a Town Hall meeting at the Apollo Theater around a month later, Sanders was asked an anti-Semitic question about the “Zionist Jews” running the Federal Reserve. Here was his response:

7. Hilary’s op-eds court Jewish voters.

To woo Jewish voters, Hillary communicated with them directly — in print. In November, the former First Lady wrote an op-ed detailing how she plans to reaffirm the “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel. A few months later, on Passover, she wrote an op-ed about how the Passover Seder has impacted her belief in the importance of fighting injustice.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C), looks on as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel (L) and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (R) shakes hands as they re-launch of direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian Authority at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 2, 2010. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images.

8. And, of course, Saturday Night Live brings it all home.

As with every election season, Saturday Night Live didn’t miss a chance to lampoon and mock the candidates this election season. With Sanders in the race, SNL stepped up its use of Jewish humor, with legendary Jewish comedian Larry David impersonating Sanders. The highlight of David’s appearances came on February 6th, when both Sanders and David appeared on the show together to address Bernie’s Jewish background directly.

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