As the two runoff elections in Georgia draw nearer, the past remarks of certain Senate candidates are being subjected to intense scrutiny as voters prepare to make their decision about who to elect to the U.S. Senate next month.
The candidates’ position on Israel has played a major part in the race between Democratic Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock and Republican Rep. Kelly Loeffler, as both contenders appear to have widely different views on the subject.
During a debate that took place on Dec. 6, Loeffler drew attention to previous statements Warnock had made about Israel once the discussion shifted to the topic of race.
“I have worked to bring communities together my entire life. But this is really terrible coming from someone who has divided people continually,” Loeffler said.
“He’s called on Americans to repent for their worship of whiteness. He’s called Israel an apartheid state and said that we should end military assistance. He’s compared Israelis defending themselves against Palestinians … to birds of prey. And he’s celebrated Jeremiah Wright, an anti-American antisemite. That’s divisive.”
To assuage concerns about whether or not he will support Israel if elected, Warnock wrote in an op-ed published at the Jewish Democratic Council of America about his “interfaith commitment” to the Jewish community and Israel.
Warnock accused Loeffler of “misrepresenting [his] views for political gain,” and he decried the claim that he believes Israel is an apartheid state as “patently false.”
The Democratic Senate candidate’s recent insistence that he will “stand with the Jewish community and Israel in the U.S. Senate” in response to Loeffler’s criticism prompted the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) to step in and share Warnock’s history of statements about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as his connection to various figures who have questioned the country’s right to exist.
“Rev. Warnock recently told a Jewish group that he supports Israel, but he has a long history of statements that testify to the fact that he does not,” the group said on their website.
“His 2016 comparison of Prime Minister Netanyahu to segregationist George Wallace in front of an African American audience was simple hatemongering.”
Despite Warnock’s claims to the contrary, he has compared Israel to an “apartheid” before, as seen in a recently resurfaced video of a Palm Sunday Sermon he delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2015.
“If you do not have a Palestinian state, you will have to have apartheid in Israel that denies other citizens, sisters and brothers citizenship, or you will have a democracy that is not a Jewish state,” Warnock had said.
The RJC also expressed concern over former Women’s March Leader Linda Sarsour’s endorsement of Warnock’s comments about Netanyahu, as well as the support his campaign has received from Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
Warnock was absolutely correct. https://t.co/lh6dChR5bx
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) December 10, 2020
All three women have faced criticism for several public statements of theirs that many felt were antisemitic.
This is happening in America!
Anti-Semite Linda Sarsour claims “Israel is built on Jewish supremacy.”
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) December 3, 2019
Back in 2019, the Washington Examiner highlighted remarks Sarsour made during the 12th Annual Conference for Palestine, where she claimed: “Israel … is built on supremacy; that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else.”
That same year, The Times of Israel reported that Congresswoman Omar and Tlaib were refused a visit to the Holy Land, as top Israeli officials said they would not permit “those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle this is a very justified decision.”
A few days after the pair were barred from entering Israel, the two members of the “squad” shared an antisemitic drawing of the Israeli Prime Minister by Carlos Latuff, an artist who won second-place in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest back in 2006.
Both Omar and Tlaib have supported Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) efforts against Israel, a movement that advocates for crippling Israel economically, and Omar has even been criticized by some of her Democratic colleagues for implying Jewish lawmakers have dual loyalties when it comes to Israel and America.
Alongside what the RJC called a “preponderance of anti-Israel statements” made by Warnock himself, the group cited these ties as proof that Warnock will “side with Israel’s opponents in the Democratic Party and against Israel at every opportunity.”
Based on this, the RJC insisted that “Warnock is the wrong choice for Georgia and for the US Senate” compared to Loeffler, a candidate the group said is “a good friend of Israel and the Jewish community.”
The Georgia Senate runoff elections will take place on Jan. 5.
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