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Letter | Why won’t people take Reverend Warnock at his word on Israel?

Dear Editor,

My wife and I are children of concentration camp survivors. We are deeply disturbed that many Jews don’t take U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock at his word. His rhetoric is dangerous to Jewish interests. And Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s article in these pages, “For those who want to fight antisemitism, the choice in Georgia is clear,” is a perfect example of a Jewish leader choosing not to believe Warnock’s own words and extensive anti-Israel rhetoric.

Warnock’s supporters point to his recent policy paper as an attempt to correct for his many anti-Israel sermons. His supporters read into the paper what is not there, claiming Warnock condemns BDS and its refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. This is not the case; rather, in the piece, Reverend Warnock states that he “opposes” BDS, but he does not explicitly condemn it.

It’s a salient difference. For much of his career, Georgia Congressman John Lewis was considered a great friend of Jews and Israel. But many of his supporters felt betrayed when he introduced HR 496 in 2019 with Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, supporters of BDS. The resolution affirmed the right to boycott, and later gained numerous Democratic co-sponsors. Would Warnock condemn that resolution like just about every Republican?

People accused of antisemitism like Omar, Tlaib, and Linda Sarsour, held a virtual “vote-a-thon” for Warnock on December 13. And Warnock has made no statement regarding their support. What this means is that Jews who support him are making common cause with those who hate us.

“I do not think that Loeffler is an antisemite… She is an enabler,” writes Lipstadt, using the same words she leveled against President Trump before unfairly tying Loeffler to QAnon, a new but growing conspiracy theory. As part of the reason people should vote against Loeffler, Lipstadt also brings up the Jewish murders in Pittsburgh and Poway. But those crimes were carried out by crazed individuals who opposed Donald Trump. The other massacres she cites didn’t have Jewish victims.

Meanwhile, Warnock has given anti-Israel sermons, saying in one, “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey.” And echoing Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat and Fatah publications, Warnock has called Jesus “a poor Palestinian prophet,” a view which seems to deny the Jewish people’s connection to the Holy Land. Last year, Warnock even signed a letter comparing the West Bank to apartheid South Africa.

Professor Lipstadt, a leading authority on antisemitism and the Holocaust, should know better than to support someone who has slandered and worked against the interests of the Jewish People.

Sincerely, Jay Starkman Atlanta, GA

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