Senator Kamala Harris is seeking to separate herself from the Democratic field by being an unapologetic booster of Israel. Her message to the American Jewish Committee yesterday contains a vow– “I will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense” — and commitments to the “democratic and Jewish state” and to the “homeland for the Jewish people” and to fight “delegitimization” of Israel, including implicitly, BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions).
Most important there is not one word of criticism of Israel and no mention of Palestinian human rights. A candidate for president, Harris is running on the inside track and evidently trying to please the donor community and not the progressive base, which Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden at least acknowledge by offering mild implied criticism of Israel.
Here’s most of the first 2-1/2 minutes of Harris’s message, before she turns to anti-Semitism.
As a member of both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I am deeply involved in insuring the American Israeli relationship remains strong. And I am proud to stand strongly with America’s most important allies. So let me be clear about what I believe. Israel is a critical friend and ally to the United States. I stand with Israel both because of our shared values, which are so fundamental to the founding of both our nations, and I believe the bonds between the people of the United States and the people of Israel are unbreakable and we can never let anyone drive a wedge between us.
And I believe, Israel should never be a partisan issue. I will do everything in my power to insure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense. That is why I strongly support America’s security assistance to Israel and I am committed to strengthen the American Israeli security and defense relationship.
I believe that the only viable resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the only way Israel can remain a Jewish and democratic state is two states for two peoples living side by side. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state in peace and dignity just as Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. I believe that a resolution to this conflict cannot be imposed by outside parties. It must be agreed upon by the parties themselves. Both sides will have to make difficult decisions. Peace can only come through a reconciliation of differences, and that can only happen at the negotiating table.
I believe that when any organization delegitimizes Israel, we must stand up and speak out against it. Israel must be treated equally, and that is why the first resolution I cosponsored as a United States senator was to combat anti-Israeli bias at the United Nations and affirm and reaffirm that the United States seeks a just, secure and sustainable two-state solution.
By contrast, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, running on the outside track for the Democratic nomination for president, never mentions Israel in her four-minute message to the AJC. She devotes that entire message to religious prejudice. “The AJC has contributed so much to the advancement of religious tolerance for years… I appreciate so much your work.”
She speaks of being on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, which could be a pretext to bringing up Israel, but no thank you. She went to Auschwitz as a soldier, years ago. “The world must never forget. Sadly anti-semitism has been on the rise in America and around the world.”
Gabbard also reflects that she was the subject of anti-Hindu bigotry, one opponent saying a Hindu should not serve in Congress; and Republicans endorsed the candidate.
Please know as president that I will continue to stand with you to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry and to uphold our freedom of religion.
Here is NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She just submitted her message this morning.
Her main issue is extremism and anti-Semitism, and she mentions Israel three times, all positively. In the Senate, she says, “I fight against anti-Semitism, and to make sure that the United States is a safe place for the Jewish community to live and thrive.” On Israel:
I have always worked hard for the U.S. Israel alliance. To make sure it is strong. Our nations have intertwined national security issues…I am a voice to … make sure Israel always has a qualitative military edge to protect her country.
Gillibrand then cites the AJC as the leading voice for our US Israel relationship.
More candidates. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington deplores anti-semitic violence and mentions Israel only in passing: his commitment to “a strong, democratic Israel and a two-state solution.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s message is more emphatic than even Kamala Harris. He only briefly mentions anti-Semitism before turning to Israel. He has visited Israel several times and does not criticize it. “I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as our strongest ally in the Middle East… We do not have to agree with every action of the Israeli government…” Israel’s right to exist is not a subject to be debate. “That is why I also reject boycotts, disinvestments or sanctions in any way…” Hickenlooper brags about opposing BDS.
He also inveighs against “Iran and its terror proxies,” threatening Israel with missiles. He would consider resuming the Iran Deal, but only after renegotiation of its support for proxies in the Middle East.
Hickenlooper addresses the divide over Israel in the Democratic party:
“Let me conclude by saying that Israel is an emotive topic for many people and one that inspires great passions. It will inspire great passions in this presidential campaign. My view is clear, like many close personal relationships we can argue, we can agree, we can disagree, we can laugh and cry and celebrate together, but at the end of the day, our relationship with Israel should remain unquestionable, close and strong, and as president, I will make sure of that.”
Here’s Senator Michael Bennet’s address. It is also a vigorous declaration of support for Israel– “Israel is a stalwart ally in an unpredictable region” — and commitment not to allow that support to become partisan. Bennet moves on to the rising threat from extremism and anti-Semitism in the United States.