By Daled Amos
As we approach 2024, politicians are beginning to line up to announce their candidacy for the approaching presidential elections. Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are among the Republicans who will apparently battle it out in the primaries. On the Democratic side, Biden has announced that he and Kamala Harris will run for re-election.
And the presidential campaign season means that at some point, these politicians will feel the need to brag about being a friend of Israel.
One of those will be the current vice president, Kamala Harris.
The last time around, Harris could rely on the ringing endorsement she received from Kveller.com, which reminded us that Kamala Harris Has an Adorable Yiddish Nickname - Momaleh. On top of that, while growing up in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Harris collected money in the Jewish National Fund boxes to buy trees for Israel. According to Kveller, that qualified her as a mensch and earned her their approval for office.
At the time, the Jewish Insider had a more serious evaluation of Harris on her pro-Israel record and relationship with the Jewish community:
o The first bill she co-sponsored in the Senate condemned UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which criticized Israeli settlements.
o She sponsored resolutions condemning the 2018 Tree of Life shooting and the April 2019 Chabad of Poway shooting.
o In 2017, she co-sponsored with Sen. Marco Rubio the Senate resolution condemning hate and antisemitism
o She opposed the BDS movement
This seems to bear out the claim made by Harris's campaign spokesperson, Lily Adams that “her support for Israel is central to who she is.”
But on the other hand:
o Despite her opposition to the BDS movement, Harris voted against a bipartisan 2019 anti-BDS bill, saying she was concerned it could violate First Amendment rights.
o In June 2020, she sent a letter to Trump opposing Israel’s potential unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank.
o When asked in a 2019 interview with The New York Times, "Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?" she responded, "overall, yes."
o Harris expressed support for the US rejoining the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran.
This does not necessarily negate her positive actions and statements, it merely places her among the moderate Democratic supporters of Israel After all, you can't expect 100% support for all of Israel's policies from a US politician.But there are other statements and actions that do not mesh with the pro-Israel image Harris and her staff want to cultivate.
One position that the Jewish Insider does not mention is Kamala Harris's support for Ilhan Omar. In 2019, Harris defended Ilhan Omar against criticism of her attack on AIPAC and Omar's accusations of Jewish dual loyalty
We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry.
But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk. [emphasis added]
I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism.
In addition to claiming that Omar's accusation of Jewish dual loyalty, Harris expressed concern for Omar being put "at risk," by being subject to criticism while being oblivious to the risk to Jews by Omar's comments.
Similarly, Harris also was supportive of CAIR:
As California’s attorney general and then as U.S. senator, Harris forged a relationship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the nation’s top anti-Israel groups and advocates for boycotts of the Jewish state. CAIR advised Harris on community issues during her time in California politics, and she later offered the group her "gratitude and admiration" in a 2018 personal letter to the group.Also jarring -- coming from someone whose "support for Israel is central to who she is" -- was Harris's Chief-of-Staff Karine Jean-Pierre, who is currently the White House Press Secretary for the Biden Administration (Biden being another politician who claims to be a long-time friend of Israel). Before all this, she was a spokesperson and senior advisor for the Soros-funded MoveOn.org
"Ms. Jean-Pierre repeated the blood libel that “Israel may have committed war crimes in its attacks on Gazan protesters" and in addition
Ms. Jean-Pierre also falsely accused AIPAC of “alarming,” “severely racist, Islamophobic rhetoric,” of being an “obstacle to progress,” and of “trafficking in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while lifting up Islamophobic voices and attitudes.”
In September 2021, Kamala Harris seemed to show similar feelings.
While speaking to a class at George Mason University in Virginia, Harris appeared to agree with a student's condemnation of Israel. The student condemned
funds allocated to continue backing Israel, which hurts my heart because it’s an ethnic genocide and a displacement of people — the same that happened in America — and I’m sure you’re aware of this.”
Harris's nodded in agreement, with no counter to the comment. When the student expressed her need to speak up, Harris responded:
I’m glad you did. And again this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth should not be suppressed and it must be heard, right? And one of the things that we’re fighting for in a democracy, right, a democracy is its strongest when everybody participates…[emphasis added]
Here is the video:
Harris and her staff had to go into damage control mode, assuring Jewish leaders that despite her apparent agreement with the comment, she did not actually share the student's view.
When it comes to "truth", however, Kamala Harris seems to find it in the oddest places.
Kamala Harris is just another politician who follows the popular positions of the Democratic party. As long as there is a sizeable portion of Democrats who support Israel, she will follow along.
And if the Democratic party decides it will follow Biden in supporting the JCPOA, she will support that too, despite the threat to the Middle East in general and to Israel in particular -- just as she will praise a student who accuses Israel of ethnic genocide, since after all, free speech is a good thing, right?
When it comes to Israel, we cannot judge a politician by their carefully crafted speeches or support for popular pro-Israel bills. Their associations and unprepared off-the-cuff remarks give a better idea of their positions.