Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update

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

December 27, 2020

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

  • Trump's post-election behavior confirms his unfitness for office, yet Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue continue to support him.
  • Loeffler's supporters have resorted to baseless attacks against Rev. Raphael Warnock, but the fact remains that Warnock is pro-Israel and an ally in the fight against antisemitism.
  • 150 House Democrats signed a letter endorsing Biden's call for a return to the Iran Deal, which guarantees that obstructionists in Congress will not have the votes to derail a deal and which sends a message of support to Biden and a message to Iran that it can negotiate with the Biden administration to return to the deal.
  • The COVID relief bill does not include any foreign aid.
  • Read to the end for upcoming events and fun stuff.

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Four years ago, Gene Weingarten writes, things were very different in America, and Trump voters "concluded that after eight years of having an elegant, erudite, sophisticated Black guy in charge, it was time to give a semiliterate, infantile, racist boor a shot."

Hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths and millions of infections later, 74 million Americans voted for Trump last month--more than any presidential candidate in history except for Joe Biden. Maybe they thought that since pandemics like this have only occurred once every 100 years, we were in the clear, and besides, what's a little antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia among white friends?

But now? Trump has yet to acknowledge that he lost, let alone congratulate President-elect Biden. If his post-election petulance, golfing, and pardoning hasn't convinced Trump supporters that they were wrong, then we need to rethink the Enlightenment principles of reason and rationality upon which our democracy was founded.

My friend, you can decide for yourself which of your Trump-supporting friends are nice but misguided or perhaps not so nice, but whether they know it or not, they support the worst president in U.S. history. Unlike some of our friends, politicians who support Trump cannot plead ignorance or good intentions. Their values are not ours, and we cannot support them.

Enter Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). If someone who voted for Trump retains even a Planck length of decency, they should by now at least be keeping their mouth shut about it. But the New York Times reports that Loeffler "is a fervent supporter and rubber stamp for President Trump, a message she has repeated across Georgia, from the campaign trail ('I’m the only U.S. senator that has voted 100 percent with President Trump') to the debate stage ('I am proud to be the only U.S. senator with a 100 percent voting record with President Trump') to her campaign ads ('Kelly Loeffler: 100 percent Trump voting record').

Loeffler supported the baseless Texas lawsuit to overturn the election and has yet to acknowledge that Biden won. Loeffler warmly accepted the endorsement of Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the anti-Semitic QAnon supporters elected to Congress last month, and she recently defended a TV host tied to white supremacy and neo-Nazi conspiracy theories. Read this Loeffler mailer and decide for yourself if her values are yours.

Loeffler and her supporters can't deny what she has done during the past weeks and months, so they are spreading misinformation about Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Jewish Dems condemned the false, divisive attacks on Warnock. JDCA CEO Halie Soifer said that "these attacks are clearly designed to divide the Jewish community through fear-mongering and to distract from Loeffler’s deplorable record of emboldening right-wing extremists." If Loeffler believes what she is saying about Warnock, why did she speak at his church? After all, she seems to keep pretty close tabs on who attends services there and who Warnock associates with.

Warnock is pro-Israel and better aligned with our values than Loeffler. Warnock's opponents are taking a page from Steve Bannon's playbook and flooding the zone with [expletive deleted], but if you've been exposed to that nonsense, read my response. If you don't want to take my word for it, instead of poring over isolated clips of old sermons, read what Warnock has committed to in writing.

If it's any consolation, Jon Ossoff's opponent in the Georgia runoffs, Sen. David Perdue, also makes stuff up. If Loeffler or Perdue win, Mitch McConnell retains his stranglehold on the Senate. We can't let that happen.

House Democrats sent a strong message on Iran. Last week, 15o Democrats signed a letter to Biden spearheaded by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and all three members who ran for Foreign Affairs Chair strongly endorsing Biden's "call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations."

This letter sends a message to Iran that it can negotiate a return to the JCPOA with Biden because Biden has enough votes to sustain a veto of any legislation blocking reentry (he needs 146)--neither Iran nor the U.S. need be concerned about obstructionists in Congress. It sends a message to Biden that he can focus on Iran without the distraction of the sanctions-for-the-sake-of-sanctions crowd.

Given how long negotiations could take and how far Iran has advanced since Trump walked away from the deal without cause, reentering the JCPOA before negotiating a new deal is the best approach and is vital to U.S. security.

As the House letter notes, reentering the JCPOA would not prevent us from addressing Iran's other destabilizing activities; rather, an unrestrained Iranian nuclear program would exacerbate these other threats posed by Iran and inspire a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

The members who signed deserve our thanks, but one of my least favorite partisan games is criticizing members of Congress for not signing letters. One can safely assume that someone who signs a letter substantially agrees with a letter, but one must be careful about drawing conclusions about why members did not sign unless they've issued a statement explaining why they did not sign. Reasons for not signing can range from unavailability (letters don't circulate forever) to political sensitivities in their districts and anything in between. What matters more is how they vote and what they believe.

The COVID relief bill contains no foreign aid. In addition to the $900 billion COVID relief bill, Congress passed a $1.4 trillion omnibus funding bill for unrelated matters, including $500 million for Israel. These are two separate bills.

As Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) explains, "millions in foreign aid over the course of the next year was authorized (along with many other spending bills), but that foreign aid was NOT part of the COVID relief package...the President (and others) are confusing two entirely different spending bills."

The omnibus bill (not the COVID bill) also included $250 million for the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Fund, which was supported by AIPAC, J Street, and JDCA, among others. Any politician who, whether by ignorance or design, falsely claims that the COVID bill contains foreign aid deserves the opprobrium of the pro-Israel community.

Happy New Year. Last year, none of us had heard of COVID, Zoom was a novelty, and only germaphobes refused to shake hands. As bad as 2020 was, it ended on a high note: We made Donald Trump a one-termer. Here's to a better, healthier, saner year in 2021. Thanks for your kindness and support.

Tweet of the Week. George Hahn.

Twitter Thread of the Week. Jonah Blank.

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