The Israeli human rights organization B’tselem said Tuesday that former Bernie Sanders adviser and long-time anti-occupation activist Simone Zimmerman has been appointed the new director of its American operations.
Zimmerman is an “American Jewish anti-occupation activist” who will “work to amplify B’Tselem’s voice among US policy makers and the broader public,” the rights group said in an official statement.
“As a Jewish activist who has worked for years to challenge my own community’s denialism about the reality of the occupation, I am excited to take on my new role,” the statement quoted Zimmerman as saying. “I hope to deepen the partnership between the anti-occupation movements working on the ground and those working here in the USA.”
In 2016 Zimmerman was suspended from her role as adviser to US Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign after reports surfaced of her harsh and foul-mouthed criticism of Israeli policies and of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After Zimmerman, a former J Street student activist, was hired by the Sanders campaign, it was discovered she previously wrote on Facebook, “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole,” according to the Washington-based Free Beacon.
She continued: “F— you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent even a fraction of the Jews in this world, for your consistent fear-mongering, for pushing Israel in word and deed, farther and farther away from the international community, and most importantly, for trying to derail a potentially historic diplomatic deal with Iran and thus trying to distract the world from the fact that you sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people this summer.”
She edited the post on March 3, 2015, changing “asshole” to “politician” and the second expletive to “shame on you.” She was dismissed by the Sanders campaign after being its Jewish outreach coordinator for only two days.
In a 2018 incident, she was detained for questioning at the Taba border when crossing into Israel from Egypt with a colleague, but allowed to enter after several hours of questioning.
According to B’Tselem, Zimmerman co-founded IfNotNow, a “movement of young American Jews working to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation.” She lived in Israel between 2016 and 2018 and has a degree in Middle Eastern Studies from UC Berkeley.
B’Tselem, which uses Palestinian photographers and videographers to document the conduct of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, has often drawn the ire of the Israeli government. In March 2017, one of the group’s volunteers filmed IDF soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria shooting a disarmed, injured Palestinian in the head after the latter carried out a stabbing attack in Hebron. That footage sparked a nationwide debate over excessive force and IDF values. Azaria was jailed by a military court for manslaughter.
JTA contributed to this article