At first glance, Joe Biden’s pick of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate should give some comfort to the Jewish community. The California Democrat has developed a record for speaking up for the Jewish state since her election to the U.S. Senate in 2016.
But a deeper look reveals that Harris may represent a troubling pick for Jewish voters, with positions on Israel that many will not be happy about.
Harris addressed the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) twice since entering the Senate.
“Look at my own life, where a daughter of a South Asian mother and a Jamaican father concluded her own interfaith wedding with her husband, breaking glass and everyone yelling mazal tov,” she told the annual conference in 2017.
Harris married Douglas Emhoff, who is Jewish and also an attorney, in Santa Barbara in 2014, while she was serving as the Golden State’s attorney general.
Like AIPAC, she supports a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian differences, but believes that such a solution must come naturally and not be forced.
“I believe that a resolution to this conflict cannot be imposed,” she said. “It must be agreed upon by the parties themselves,” Harris said.
She’s met with AIPAC representatives on other occasions as well.
“Great to meet today in my office with California AIPAC leaders to discuss the need for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, the right of Israel to defend itself, and my commitment to combat anti-Semitism in our country and around the world,” she tweeted in March 2019.
J Street, a more liberal Jewish lobbying group, also supports a two-state solution, but believes pressure should be exerted to initiate talks between Israel and Palestine.
Another issue that worked in her favor was that Harris is on the record as opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. But her record denouncing BDS hasn’t been consistent.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing with Harris and the Jewish community.
A look at AIPAC’s Twitter feed reveals no congratulatory message directed at either Biden or Harris. As it turns out, although Harris addressed the 2017 and the 2018 AIPAC conferences, she, along with other 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, refused to appear at the 2019 conference, The Associated Press reported.
They were cautioned by the far-left organization MoveOn.org to decline AIPAC’s invitation, because AIPAC attempted to thwart the Iran nuclear deal and, it was claimed, used “anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric” to do so.
A statement from Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks may reveal even more reason for the fallout.
Brooks claimed that with Biden’s announcement, he “sealed the Democrat Party’s move to the extreme left with the choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate,” the Jewish Press reported.
“Senator Harris wants to put the U.S. back into the disastrous Obama-Biden nuclear deal with Iran. She does not stand with Israel and the Jewish community. She voted against an anti-BDS bill in the Senate that also extended an existing loan guarantee program with Israel,” he continued.
“As attorney general of California, she received numerous letters from Jewish organizations urging her to act against anti-Semitic activities on campuses in the California public university system, but she refused to answer those pleas.”
Perhaps even more significantly, the publication also reported that AIPAC, as well as the Jewish Federations of North America declined to offer comment.
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