Rabbi Ilan Feldman from Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta and Rabbi Avigdor Slatus from Congregation Bnai Brith Jacob in Savannah, both of them Orthodox, last week sent a letter to the campaign of Democratic candidate for one of Georgia’s Senate seats Rev. Raphael Warnock, condemning his objectionable anti-Israel statements.
“We are concerned and hurt by the manner in which the Reverend brushed aside his past rhetoric against Israel and the Jewish community, and even blamed his opponents for ‘trying to use Israel as yet another wedge issue,’” the two Orthodox rabbis wrote.
Warnock signed a letter in 2018 that compared Israel’s status in Judea and Samaria to the “military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa.” In a sermon, also in 2018, he accused Israel of shooting down “unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey.”
Feldman and Slatus were joined by two other rabbis, from the Coalition for Jewish Values, founded in 2017 by a group of conservative Jewish leaders who supported President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies.
“I can’t characterize what’s in a man’s heart,” Rabbi Feldman said of Warnock. “I can only say that certain comments provide a safe haven for those that do have anti-Semitic views.”
Warnock has toned down the anti-Israel stuff since becoming a candidate, and repeatedly stated his support for Israel – as well as for a two-state solution. He has denied comparing Israel to “an Apartheid state.”
The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) posted a video supporting Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, and Reverend Warnock for the Senate:
In November, the JDCA published a letter titled, “Rabbis Reject Attempts at Dividing Communities Around the Georgia Runoff Election,” signed by a long list of non-Orthodox Jewish clergy who supported Warnock’s record, and stated:
Rev. Warnock has made clear that claims that he believes Israel is an apartheid state are “patently false.” In his own words, “I do not believe that.” Rev. Warnock has made his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict clear. He has stated, “while I am deeply concerned about injustices impacting the Palestinian people…I know that no singular country’s actions are perfect, including Israel’s — and yet the country is a true friend and our strong, democratic ally in the region.”
The Jewish Press has published video evidence to the contrary:
Warnock is also under attack by black ministers in Georgia critical of his support for a woman’s free choice, who issued a letter a week ago, saying, “You have publicly expressed your views that abortion is an exercise of ‘human agency and freedom’ that is fully consistent with your role as a shepherd of God’s people. We believe these statements represent grave errors of judgment and a lapse in pastoral responsibility, and we entreat you to reconsider them.”