How the 2020 Democratic Candidates Tweet About Anti-Semitism

A not-so-scientific analysis of their tweets.

I am endlessly fascinated by the role social media messaging plays in our national politics. There are Bloomberg’s memes, found everywhere from @fuckjerry to @kalesalad, which sparked a national conversation. There are the viral videos of Elizabeth Warren calling her supporters. There was the #YangGang.

Of course, the candidates’ policies and visions are the most important thing to consider when choosing who you want to run the country, but their use of social media is an undeniable factor in both how they are perceived, and what information they want to quickly get across to a wider audience. As I worked on Alma’s guide to the 2020 democratic candidates, I was particularly struck by how the candidates used Twitter to respond to particular tragedies, like acts of violence and mass shootings. The platform allows them to be quick, succinct, and puts them on the record immediately. I wondered: What do their tweets about anti-Semitism say? What message are they trying to convey? I tried to find out.

A quick note on methodology: I only searched the main profiles of the four remaining candidates: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg, and Joe Biden. I searched their tweets for mentions of “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Semitic.” (Anti-Semitism also brought up results for “antisemitism.”) These tweets are all as of February 24, 2020.

In order of most tweets to least…

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders’ tweets about anti-Semitism fall into three categories: (1) personal statements; (2) commentary on hate crimes; (3) part of a wider message on fighting bigotry.

Sanders, one of two Jewish candidates in the race, often speaks on his Jewish identity and the personal impact of anti-Semitism. Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn — his father immigrated from Poland.  In his speech declaring his run for presidency, he talked about how his father escaped widespread anti-Semitism. Here’s the first tweet on his account about anti-Semitism:

Often, he tweets about how “Anti-Semitism is not some abstract idea to me. It is very personal.”

The second category of Sanders’ tweets: condemning anti-Semitic hate crimes. He tweeted a story of an Ohio man making threats to a JCC; on the anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh; on the shooting in a Jersey City kosher supermarket; on the attack in Monsey; and on the vandalism of three Jewish schools in LA. 

Lastly, Sanders’ tweets on anti-Semitism seem to be part of his larger message on fighting against bigotry and racism of all forms.

Oh, and he tweeted on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

@BernieSanders total tweets: 13

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren’s tweets about anti-Semitism nearly all focus on anti-Semitic hate crimes. She often begins these messages with “I’m heartsick…” and sometimes links to a news report on what has happened.

Warren was the only candidate to tweet about the Halle synagogue shooting in Germany. She wrote that she and her husband were “keeping the congregation in our hearts”:

She also links anti-Semitism to white supremacy, as well as to Donald Trump,and gun violence.

And, after the anti-Semitic Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October 2018, Warren attended Shabbat services at Temple Emanuel in Newton as a part of the #ShowUpForShabbat campaign organized by the American Jewish Committee (AJC). She tweeted about this, again, on the one year anniversary:

Like Sanders, Warren also shared a message on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

@ewarren total tweets: 11

Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s tweets about anti-Semitism are a continuation of his campaign theme, in which he argues that the 2020 election is a “battle for the soul of our nation.”

Biden also tweeted about anti-Semitism in response to the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand, in relation to the rise of “violent hate.”

@JoeBiden total tweets: 4

Mike Bloomberg

In last: Mike Bloomberg.

Here are the Jewish candidate’s two tweets about anti-Semitism. The first, a dig at Trump and a statement of action:

The second, in response to the Monsey stabbing:

Unlike Bernie Sanders, the other Jewish candidate, his tweets about his own Jewish identity focus on tikkun olam and how he was raised, not anti-Semitism.

@MikeBloomberg total tweets: 2


There are four remaining candidates in the race, and half are Jewish. This is unprecedented! However, those two candidates – Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg — are taking dramatically different approaches to discussing what is arguably the most explicitly Jewish issue of 2020: anti-Semitism.

Sanders leans into his Jewish identity, talking about how relatives of his were killed in the Holocaust and how he has seen the impact of anti-Semitism firsthand. He links anti-Semitism to a rise in other hate crimes.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, has rarely tweeted about anti-Semitism. We can give him the benefit of the doubt and say it’s because he entered the race much later, but his only two tweets on anti-Semitism are related to an anti-Semitic attack, and the rise of anti-Semitism under Trump. Only one of those brings in his identity as a Jewish person. Bloomberg more frequently discusses his Jewish identity with regard to Jewish values, not anti-Semitism.

Biden and Warren, neither of whom are Jewish — although Biden has many Jewish relatives, fun fact — have been consistent in their messaging on anti-Semitism.

Will any of this matter? Who knows.

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