Rabbis denounce Rev. Raphael Warnock’s Antisemitic rhetoric, dismiss “whitewash” from partisan groups
December 18, 2020

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, today released a letter sent to the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) and the Warnock for Senate campaign on Monday, denouncing anti-Semitic rhetoric from Georgia senatorial candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock and challenging JDCA’s partisan “whitewash” of his language. The JCDA characterized serious concerns about Warnock’s comments as “baseless claims and attacks.”

Last year Rev. Warnock joined a Group Pilgrimage Statement, signed by Black leaders from the National Council of Churches, which compared Israel’s actions to South Africa’s apartheid government and compared the plight of “Palestinian” Arabs to the Black experience of “dehumanizing dispossession, colonialism, segregation and apartheid.” The statement painted the Palestinian Authority as a “non-violent” group while mischaracterizing Israeli defensive efforts to prevent terrorism and supporting “economic pressure,” referring to the anti-Semitic BDS movement.

In a sermon, Rev. Warnock claimed that he “saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey,” and that Arabs were “struggling for water.”

“Warnock’s statements about Israel are not merely false, but are tainted with classic anti-Semitic tropes familiar to every Orthodox rabbi,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the CJV. “We sent our letter to his campaign and the JDCA via email on Monday, requesting evidence that Rev. Warnock reversed his threatening positions prior to running for office. The lack of response is telling. For us this is not a political matter, but an existential concern – these positions have proven to be not merely dangerous but deadly in the past.”

The CJV letter was signed by the leaders of Georgia’s two largest Orthodox congregations, Rabbi Ilan Feldman of Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta and Rabbi Avigdor Slatus of Congregation Bnai Brith Jacob in Savannah, in addition to CJV President Rabbi Lerner and Southern Regional Vice President Rabbi Moshe Parnes.

“We have thousands of years of experience with hateful rhetoric of this nature, and the deadly consequences of allowing it to flourish uncontested,” the letter maintained. “Only a fool, or someone callously unconcerned for the safety of Israel and the Jewish community, would grant credence to what he says on the campaign trail today to Jewish audiences, over what he said just a year ago in front of his own, supportive congregation.”

The letter called on JCDA to present clear and compelling evidence that Rev. Warnock renounced these positions before seeking public office. “Otherwise,” it concluded, “it remains clear that placing him in a position of power would be playing a dangerous gamble with history’s longest form of hate.”

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