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What to Watch

November 16, 2020

We are 50 days from the two runoff elections in Georgia that will decide which party holds the majority in the US Senate. We'll continue to keep you informed on the stories and trends to watch. Let us have your feedback at [email protected].


Jewish Activists Are Fired Up for Georgia Runoffs

The Jerusalem Post reports

Georgia is on everyone’s mind these days. The presidential election is behind us, but the control of the Senate hinges on a couple of runoffs in the Peach State after no candidate crossed the 50% threshold on November 3.

…And with small margins between the candidates, the Jewish vote could have an impact. There are about 120,000 Jews in the state of Georgia, Dave Schechter, a veteran journalist who covers the Jewish community in Georgia, told The Jerusalem Post. He said the majority of voters live in the Atlanta area, with a small concentration in Savannah.

“American Jews vote in a much higher percentage of the population in general,” Schechter said. “So even in a general election, if 80% of the Jews are voting or more, there are places in the United States where they can have a great impact… When it comes to elections, Jews punch over their weight,” Schechter noted. “They may not be a big percentage, but their percentage in terms of voting makes them, particularly in a runoff – where you may have a lower turnout – can make them a critical constituency.”

Chuck Berk, co-chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition of Atlanta, said support for Israel is a crucial issue for the community. “When you have somebody who’s running for the Senate who makes comments about how oppressive the Israelis are and talks about things like the Israeli government has shot down unarmed Palestinians, how do you vote for a guy like that?”

He anticipated a high turnout. “I think people understand how important these two races are on both sides. I know that I’ve never been contacted by so many people saying, ‘Hey, what can I do to help? Who can I call? What can I do?’ So that’s very encouraging to hear.

“People seem very energized because they know that we’ve got two very good candidates and they’re very fearful of both of the candidates on the other side, as well as what would happen if the Republicans don’t maintain control of the Senate.”

The RJC is seeing that enthusiasm among our members. Our first virtual Georgia Day of Action targeting Jewish voters was held yesterday, and RJC volunteers made over 5,000 calls – with many more Days of Action scheduled this week! Click here to sign up and help!

Donate to the Perdue and Loeffler runoff campaigns here.

Note: Donation limits have reset for the runoff. Individuals can give up to $2,800, and couples can give up to $5,600 to each candidate, regardless of how much you gave during the general election.


Loeffler’s Opponent Has a History of Anti-Israel Comments

In December 2019, Kelly Loeffler was appointed to the US Senate by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, the state's Republican governor, after Senator Johnny Isakson resigned for health reasons. She is in a special election to finish out the last two years of Isakson’s term. Her Democrat opponent is Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the congregation Martin Luther King Jr. led in the 1960s.

In a 2018 sermon, Raphael Warnock criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He went on to say

Meanwhile, young Palestinian sisters and brothers, who are struggling for their very lives, struggling for water and struggling for their human dignity, stood up in a non-violent protest, saying, 'If we’re going to die, we’re going to die struggling.' And yes, there may have been some folk who were violent, but we oughta know how that works out. We know what it’s like to stand up and have a peaceful demonstration and have the media focus on a few violent uprisings. But you have to look at those Palestinian sisters and brothers, who are struggling for their human dignity and they have a right to self-determination, they have a right to breathe free.

We need a two-state solution where all of God’s children can live together… but we saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey. And I don’t care who does it, it is wrong. It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all. And it’s no more antisemitic for me to say that than it is anti-white for me to say that Black lives matter. Palestinian lives matter.

As the Jewish Insider points out, the YouTube video of that sermon includes clips from RT, the state-controlled Russian television outlet, that show images of Palestinian rioters and Israeli soldiers clashing.

David Harsanyi writes at National Review

Warnock, senior pastor of the church once led by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., isn’t merely being “critical” of Israel, as his defenders claim. Arguing that Israel hasn’t done enough to placate Fatah is a criticism. Arguing that Israel’s refusal to return to 1967 boundaries is misguided is a criticism. Claiming that the Jewish state goes around picking off God’s children as if "they don’t matter at all" is a blood libel. It’s the kind of rhetoric that generates the anti-Semitism unfortunately found in some corners of black communities. It is also a complete fiction.

Warnock gave his sermon in the wake of Hamas’s 2018 attacks on the Israeli border, ostensibly over the United States’ decision to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But we know that to identify this as an underlying reason is nonsense: Hamas doesn’t recognize any capital of Israel — or even the nation’s existence, for that matter. Hamas’s charter gives no indication that it aspires to a two-state solution in which Jews and Arabs blissfully coexist, though it does mention that "the Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them."

Warnock signed a March 2019 letter criticizing Israel’s actions in the West Bank, as the Washington Free Beacon reports:  

[Warnock] attended a faith-group trip to Israel and Palestinian Authority territory in February and March 2019. The group released the letter shortly afterwards.

The letter claims that Israel's control of the West Bank has been "borrowed and perfected from other previous oppressive regimes," that the region's "ever-present physical walls" are "reminiscent of the Berlin Wall," and that the "heavy militarization of the West Bank" is reminiscent of "the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa."

In an editorial delivered to the Jewish Insider last week, Warnock writes: “Without reservation, you can count on me to stand with the Jewish community and Israel in the US Senate.”  That seems doubtful, given the opinions he has expressed about Israel so many times before.


Update on House and Senate Races

Several races that were still being counted and confirmed have finally been decided, and Republicans have done well. The GOP picked up three House seats: CA-48 (Michelle Steel), CA-39 (Young Kim), and NY-11 (Nicole Malliotakis), and retained TX-24 (Beth Van Duyne). Republicans also won the North Carolina (Thom Tillis) and Alaska (Dan Sullivan) Senate races.

We’re still waiting to hear the final results on these races: NY-7 (Tom Kean), CA-25 (Mike Garcia), CA-21 (David Valadao), UT-4 (Burgess Owens), and IA-2 (Mariannette Miller-Meeks), as well as NY-2 (Andrew Garbarino) and NY-22 (Claudia Tenney), which are still being counted.

We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.


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