Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update

Calling balls and strikes for the pro-Israel community since 2006

November 15, 2020

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

  • Biden's victory does not alleviate the risks posed to our democracy by the Republican Party and its supporters.
  • The Georgia Senate run-offs will decide control of the Senate, and two strong friends of Israel and the Jewish community, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, are running against two corrupt Republican incumbents.
  • We must speak out against attempts to divide the Jewish and Black communities from each other and to divide the Jewish community internally with false attacks against Warnock.
  • Warnock has been clear that he opposes BDS and that he opposes conditioning or cutting aid to Israel. He's critical of some actions of Israel's government, but when it comes to what to do about it, his answer is a two state solution, not cutting or conditioning aid and not BDS.
  • Joe Biden will be good for Israel. Why do Republicans refuse to accept what pro-Israel Americans should consider good news?
  • Read to the end for upcoming events and fun stuff.

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Buried within Dashell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon is the story of Mr. Flitcraft, who just missed getting killed by a falling beam and realized that “men died haphazard like that, and lived only while blind chance spared them.” Mr. Flitcraft "adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling.”

In decisively defeating Donald Trump, we just missed getting killed by a falling beam. But we cannot pretend that life is now normal or that no more of them will fall. Trump's ascendancy taught us that it can happen here. Over 70 million Americans voted for Trump. Trump refuses to concede, and the leadership of the Republican Party is going along with the charade. We should not be surprised that Vladimir Putin has yet to congratulate President-elect Biden. But we should be appalled that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have not congratulated Biden.

We have a problem that goes beyond the inadequacy of our institutions, including the Electoral College, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. We've seen people we thought were good people, smart people, conned into voting for a corrupt, bigoted, anti-Semitic autocrat whose incompetent handling of the pandemic resulted the needless deaths of thousands of Americans.

It's time to stop playing the "both sides" game. The Republican Party "now prefers conspiracy theories over facts, magical thinking over science and delegitimizing its political opponents over substantive and responsible governance." Jesse Wegmen concludes that the GOP's attitude "is fatal to a democracy, the survival of which depends, above all, on the loser accepting the results. The Democrats, along with most of the rest of the world, understand this. One party alone is responsible for dragging the nation to this perilous place."

We dodged the falling beam this time. It might not happen next time.

Control of the Senate depends on two Georgia Senate races. If Democrats win both seats on January 5, the Senate will be tied 50-50, and Kamala Harris will have the deciding vote. This race is more important than the candidates who are running; the outcome will determine how effectively Joe Biden can govern. The stakes could not be higher.

Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are strong supporters of Israel with deep ties to the Georgia Jewish community. But true to the GOP playbook, baseless attacks designed to divide the Black and Jewish communities, as well as to split the Jewish community, have been launched against Rev. Warnock.

Warnock is a progressive who speaks with moral authority (he holds Martin Luther King Jr.'s pulpit), who sees problems with Israel's administration of the West Bank, and who rejects claims that Israel is an apartheid state, opposes BDS and conditioning/cutting aid to Israel, and sees working toward a two state solution as the answer, all of which he outlines here. Warnock believes that "being a true friend also means being a truth-teller who does not shy away from hard conversations," and he models how to have those conversations while still supporting Israel.

I worry that some in our community (not you, of course) are, whether they know it or not, allowing racism to cloud their judgment. Yehuda Kurtzer writes that "this practice of attempting to tar Democratic politicians as anti-Israel is common and old; but it is also disproportionately and instinctively done to candidates who are people of color. This is not only inaccurate as relates to these communities; it is not only a racist thing to do; it is also unbelievably self-defeating to those very sectors of the Jewish community who would like to see continued bipartisan support for the State of Israel."

Republicans are putting him under a microscope even though two weeks ago, his opponent, Sen. Kelly Loefler, warmly embraced the endorsement of Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the anti-Semitic QAnon supporters who was just elected to Congress.

Warnock has never said anything even remotely anti-Semitic, and he never defended any anti-Israel or anti-Semitic comments made by Jeremiah Wright (Warnock has defended Wright’s use of inflammatory language in talking about the historic injustices that Black Americans have faced).

Warnock understands that while Israel is imperfect, it needs and deserves our support. In Warnock's case, this understanding is based on the facts and on his strong Christian faith.

Those spreading this nonsense about Warnock should be ashamed. They are trying to divide the Black community from the Jewish community and trying to divide the Jewish community internally. That might be smart politics for Republicans because few Blacks or Jews vote Republican anyway, but politicization of anti-Semitism and the U.S.-Israel relationship is not good for the Jewish community, not good for Israel, and should be condemned by Jews across the political spectrum, especially Jewish organizations who claim the mantle of bipartisanship or nonpartisanship.

Ossoff is running against Sen. David Perdue and Warnock is running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Read Ossoff's position paper on Israel, Warnock's position paper on Israel, and Warnock's statement on Israel.

Biden is good for Israel. I've noticed an interesting phenomenon in my discussions with Republicans about Israel. When I point out, with hard facts, that the information they had about Democrats and Israel was incorrect, instead of being relieved to know that Democrats do support Israel--the reaction you'd expect from anyone who genuinely believed in bipartisan support for Israel--they sometimes cling to their erroneous beliefs, almost as if they want Democrats to be bad on Israel to justify the political choices they've made.

I don't expect Republicans to agree with every item on Biden's agenda, including his approach to climate change, COVID, healthcare, and a myriad of other issues. They are Republicans, after all. But I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that, if they truly care about the U.S.-Israel relationship, they will read the Democratic Platform, read Biden's record on Israel, and acknowledge that Tzipi Livni is right: .Joe Biden is a good for Israel.

Aaron David Miller explains that while Trump was good for Bibi, Biden will be better for Israel. Commanders for Israel's Security "have no doubt that the strategic alliance between Israel and the US will only grow stronger under [Biden's] presidency" and see Biden's presidency as a chance for Israel to "move from managing the conflict to managing a solution." That's good. It shouldn't be hard to say it.

ICYMI. Thankful. Hopeful. Exhausted (I'm quoted twice).

Tweets of the Week. Remy Anne and Rex Chapman.

Twitter Thread of the Week. Batya Ungar-Sargon.

Facebook Post of the Week. Steve Haffner.

Political Ad of the Week. Attack ads on Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Video Clip of the Week. Four Seasons Total Landscaping Ad.

Upcoming Events. Politics with Dana and Steve, Democratic Jewish Outreach of Pennsylvania, Jewish Democratic Women's Salon Atlanta, and Texas Democratic Jewish Caucus are pleased to invite you to a special free event Thursday, November 19 at 6:00 pm CT. Michael Isikoff and Michael Abramowitz will discuss the election and its implications for democracy in America and around the world. To RSVP and receive the Zoom link, please email your name to

Save the Date: Dana Goldsmith Gordon and I are co-hosting a major Jewish community event with Georgia Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock on Wednesday, December 2 at 7:00pm CT. Details coming soon, but you can RSVP now.

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The Fine Print: This newsletter usually runs on Sunday mornings. Unless stated otherwise, my views do not necessarily reflect the views of any candidates or organizations that I support or am associated with. I reserve the right to change my mind as I learn more. Intelligent, well-informed people may disagree with me; read opposing views and decide for yourself. A link to an article doesn't mean that I agree with everything its author has ever said or that I even agree with everything in the article; it means that the article supports or elaborates on the point I was making. I take pride in accurately reporting the facts on which I base my opinions. Tell me if you spot any inaccuracies, typos, or other mistakes so that I can correct them in the next newsletter (and give you credit if you want it). Advertisements reflect the views of the advertisers, not necessarily of me, and advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. I read, value, and encourage replies to my newsletters, but I don't always have time to acknowledge replies or to engage in one-on-one discussion. Don't expect a reply if your message is uncivil or if it's clear from your message that you haven't read the newsletter or clicked on the relevant links. © 2020 Steve Sheffey. All rights reserved.