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Tom Cotton First Met Jews At Harvard

For Senator Tom Cotton, a leading voice in the conservative wing of the Republican Party, it took until college to meet his first Jewish friend. He grew up in rural Arkansas and only at Harvard did he encounter fellow students who were Jewish.

Cotton, in an interview with Mishpacha said it was there he learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, “I’d heard of them in a vague Biblical sense, but the idea that you wouldn’t have classes on them or that people might be going home for them was just not something that was within my realm of experience as a high school kid growing up in rural Arkansas,” Cotton said.

Later, following the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Cotton got drawn into the discussion over Israel conducted by Jewish classmates and began reading about the Israeli-Arab conflict.

In the interview, Cotton spoke out forcefully against anti-Semitism, and sounded a skeptical voice about the chances of reaching a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. “it’s understandable why peace negotiations have been long stalled when you look at what the Palestinians have turned down, and also the fact that a terror organization controls one of the main pieces of what would be a Palestinian state,” Cotton said.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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Tom Cotton First Met Jews At Harvard

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