With questions over Israel policy continuing to play an outsize role in the runoff election for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats, Jon Ossoff came to the defense of his fellow Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock on Wednesday.
“Reverend Warnock is a beloved friend and ally of Georgia’s’s Jewish community and a friend of Israel,” Ossoff said in a statement to the Forward. “Kelly Loeffler’s baseless attacks on the Reverend make me sick.”
Loeffler, the incumbent Republican, has made an issue of Warnock’s past comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his role as a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Warnock has since affirmed his support of Israel and has close ties to the local Jewish community.
“His spiritual leadership and his interfaith outreach are deeply appreciated across our state,” Ossoff, a Jewish media executive, said. “Maybe Senator Loeffler should focus her attention on David Perdue who lengthened my nose in his attack ads.”
Ossoff is running against Perdue, another incumbent, and was referring to an incident over the summer in which the Perdue campaign ran a digital ad in which Ossoff’s nose had been artificially enlarged. The campaign removed the ad after complaints.
Loeffler and other Republicans have highlighted comments Warnock made that were critical of the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and sympathetic to Palestinian protesters.
“We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey,” Warnock said in a 2018 sermon in which he also called for a two-state solution. He also accused the Israeli military of shooting unarmed Palestinians “like birds of prey.”
Warnock has since come out strongly in favor of a close U.S.-Israel relationship and in opposition to conditioning military aid to the Jewish state.
Ossoff: GOP Israel attacks on Warnock ‘make me sick’