The Jewish Left’s Warnock Whitewash
December 30, 2020

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken, in Newsweek

Many on the Left in the Jewish community have reduced anti-Semitism to a partisan weapon. According to them, whether an individual’s statements about Jews or Israel are bigoted depends entirely upon that individual’s political affiliation—or worse, his or her race.

Ilhan Omar and David Duke say many of the same things about Jews, and Duke has backed and praised Omar on numerous occasions for echoing his words. Yet many on the Jewish Left insist that only Duke is hateful—and even claim, deplorably, that it is Omar’s critics who are biased.

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When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez minimized the Holocaust by comparing detention facilities for illegal immigrants to the Buchenwald concentration camp, every Jewish scholar and organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and remembering the Holocaust—including Yad Vashem, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and a consortium of Holocaust scholars and museums across the country—roundly condemned her.

Those on the Jewish Left, however, rushed to claim both that Ocasio-Cortez made no such comparison and that the comparison was appropriate—never mind that these claims were mutually contradictory. An organization called “Never Again Action” sprang up overnight, anxious to compare Latino ICE officers overseeing illegal Latino immigrants to Nazi SS guards incinerating Jews. These activists were not trying to make a logical argument, but to serve as Jewish shields to block well-deserved criticism of AOC’s disgraceful statements.

These were the same people, of course, who repeatedly attacked President Trump and his cabinet—despite the plethora of Orthodox Jews in the president’s inner circle—with false charges of anti-Semitism. Leftists claimed Trump encouraged white supremacy no matter how often he condemned it. They blamed him for the murderous attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, though the gunman declared his hatred for Trump specifically due to the “kike infestation” he tolerated (nay, encouraged) in the White House. The Forward stopped manufacturing charges of anti-Semitism against Steve Bannon, and published an editor’s opinion piece calling those scurrilous accusations both false and dangerous, only once Bannon left the administration. And no matter how often Trump demonstrated open friendship and concern for Jews and Israel—even upending the false narratives about Israel, Palestinian Arabs and the Muslim/Arab world that kept peace at bay for decades—the Jewish Left still rebuffed that friendship.

This is how the Jewish Left helped create the environment in which the Rev. Raphael Warnock could conceivably be a major party candidate, much less a viable contender to become a U.S. senator.

Today Warnock claims to be a friend of Israel who rejects the odious comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa and opposes BDS. Just last year, however, he signed a statement that demonized Israel, made precisely that comparison and endorsed “utilizing economic pressure” against the country.

In a sermon, Warnock claimed that Israeli soldiers “shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey.” This false charge not only slanders the army that leads the world in avoiding civilian casualties, and the country that has saved countless Arab lives across the Middle East with its advanced medical technology. It also diminishes the murder of Esther Horgan, killed by a terrorist last week while jogging, making it and similar crimes appear somehow less barbaric and inhuman than they obviously are. That is the loathing towards Israel that Warnock heaved upon his congregation.

The Coalition for Jewish Values, which I serve as managing director, sent both the Warnock campaign and the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) a letter requesting evidence that Warnock had abandoned these repugnant views before running for office—and was not merely saying different things to different audiences to fool those willing to be duped.

Our letter, which the Rabbinic leaders of Georgia’s two largest Orthodox congregations both signed, pointed out that Warnock had not merely bent the truth. He, as a spiritual leader, had misused his pulpit to bear false witness.

Neither the campaign nor the JDCA responded to our letter. Instead, Halie Soifer, CEO of the JDCA, went on Twitter to do more of her one-sided slander, attacking Richard Grenell upon his appointment to the Holocaust Memorial Council—never mind that Grenell proved an outstanding advocate against anti-Semitism during his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Germany. The idea that a Republican might have done great things for the Jewish community is as inconceivable to them as the thought that they are endorsing a man who promoted hateful lies about Jews because he is a Democrat.

It is up to the good citizens of Georgia to see past the whitewash. To use a person’s own minority status to shield him or her from the consequences of hate speech is identity politics in its most malignant form. Warnock repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements, for which he cannot be given a pass due to his progressive politics or his racial identity.

The push for true equality and tolerance demands no less.

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