Despite Raphael Warnock’s Pro-Israel Statements, His Anti-Israel Letter Remains
“I Stand With Israel,” proclaimed Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Georgia Democratic US Senate candidate, in an op-ed published on November 9, claiming his views are being misrepresented “for political gain.”
“Claims that I believe Israel is an apartheid state are patently false — I do not believe that,” Warnock wrote. “…I strongly oppose the BDS movement and its anti-Semitic underpinnings…” He concluded that, “you can count on me to stand with the Jewish community and Israel in the U.S. Senate.”
Warnock was responding to a November 5 report noting he had co-signed a March 2019 National Council of Churches (NCC) letter that compared Israel to “oppressive regimes.” It also likened Israel’s West Bank security fence to the “Berlin Wall,” and waxed morally indignant against Israel’s “heavy militarization of the West Bank, reminiscent of the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa.”
Warnock has not directly addressed the letter and its content. His op-ed fails to explain how the views he signed onto are at all consistent with his claims of standing with Israel. At the same time, his campaign has welcomed support from three prominent anti-Israel figures with their own troubling records on antisemitism: US Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and activist Linda Sarsour.
The article didn’t even mention 15 other one-sided, unfounded, anti-Israeli accusations in the NCC letter, some of them so viciously propagandistic that they could easily be categorized as antisemitic. Here are the six most noteworthy unreported assertions:
- Claiming Palestinian life in Gaza is akin to living in “one big densely populated prison.”
From the NCC letter: “We heard the stories of how Palestinians within the occupied territory of the Gaza Strip must contend with a perpetual blockade, the excessive use of force by Israel to subjugate the people in collective punishment of whole population and the debilitating confinement that renders Gaza as one big densely populated prison.”
These allegations are straight out of propaganda pushed by Hamas, the murderous Islamist terrorist group that has militarily ruled over Gaza since 2007. What the letter fails to mention is that Hamas has vowed to kill every Jew living in Israel — or what it calls the “Zionist entity” — and that it has waged three wars against Israel, and launched more than 40,000 rockets and missiles against civilian targets throughout Israel. It also has dug underground tunnels for the sole purpose of killing Israeli civilians.
- The letter advocates for the “Right of Return,” a policy intended to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.
From the Warnock-signed NCC letter: “We call for the return of refugees and exiles.”
In her book, The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace, former Knesset Labor Member Einat Wilf argues that the continued Palestinian demands for the “right of return” actually reveal a grim truth: that the Palestinians have still never accepted the legitimacy of the existence of a Jewish state and as such, still seek its destruction.
“[W]hat we show in the book is that never ever have they [the Palestinians] given up the ‘right of return,'” Wilf told Tthe Times of Israel. “When you want to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but the ‘right of return’ is holy and non-negotiable, then the only two states you are rooting for are an Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza, and an Arab state to replace Israel.”
“What we’re showing is that the Palestinians have actually never, not for a single moment, accepted the two-state solution,” she said. “There was never a moment where they said: We’re done, we understand that the other state will never be Arab or Palestinian and that it will belong to the Jewish people.”
- Claiming that children dying from “undrinkable water” in Gaza is a result of Israel’s policies.
From the letter: “We heard of the acute shortage of fuel and electricity, seriously affecting daily life and the provision of especially health services in Gaza; and the heavily polluted and undrinkable water, aggravating child mortality rates.”
The blood libel — the ancient belief that Jews poison non-Jewish children as part of secret evil rituals — has found a reinvention in recent years among anti-Zionist activists. Now the claim is that Israel is to blame for poisoning Gaza’s water supply, causing the deaths of Muslim children. This claim has been investigated for years by independent non-profit organizations, which found Hamas responsible for the increasingly polluted waters and crumbling health facilities by diverting as much as 50 percent of its humanitarian aid to building up Hamas military facilities.
“The same Jews falsely accused of poisoning the water during the Black Plague are falsely accused of leaving Arabs ‘struggling for water’ today,” Rabbi Pesach Lerner, president of the Coalition for Jewish Values, wrote Monday in a letter to the Warnock campaign. “The modern version is no more true, no less vile, and no less deadly.”
- UNRWA’s role in spreading antisemitic dogma and inciting terrorism is never mentioned.
From the letter: “We heard of the impact of fateful cuts by the Trump Administration, on humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority, and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that supports Palestinian refugees.”
Warnock endorsed a letter that fails to mention the fact that for years, UNRWA has abetted Hamas terror, and helped indoctrinate Palestinian students with years of abject antisemitism and incitement to commit terrorist acts.
After the 2014 Gaza War, Israel found that UNWRA allowed Hamas to place rocket launchers throughout UNWRA schools in Gaza. Moreover, UNWRA schools served as secret storage grounds for Hamas explosives and rockets.
UN Watch, a non-profit oversight organization, found UNRWA teachers and staffers celebrating the terrorist kidnapping of Israeli teenagers, cheering rockets being fired at Israeli civilian centers, endorsing various forms of violence, erasing Israel from maps, praising Hitler and posting his photo, and posting overtly antisemitic videos, caricatures, and statements.
Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid said, “I worked in several UNRWA schools in the territories and in Jordan, and children aged 9-10 want to be killed and kill Jews and to release their people. ‘Who taught you that?’ I asked. They said that was what they were learning in schools, and I asked teachers at UNRWA schools in Jordan if children were taught to blow themselves up and be killed. They said, ‘Of course. How else will they liberate the land from the Israeli occupation?'”
- The Palestinian Authority is falsely praised for forgoing “armed solutions” — which is false.
From the letter: “We heard and appreciated how the leaders of the Palestinian Authority had made a conscious decision to forgo armed solutions to the conflict and pray that this will be responded to in kind.”
This is one of the most laughable statements in the letter. Official investigations and private NGOs have concluded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has never forsworn “armed conflict.” In fact, the PA continues to pay and arm its own terrorist groups; it continues to glorify and incite terrorism and armed conflict with the “Zionists” at all levels of society — including schools, the public, and universities. “Pay for slay” — the PA policy of financially supporting the families of terrorists — remains in place.
- Comparing the Jews to the unspeakable evil practiced by slave-owners and Nazi Germany.
From the letter: “There were whole communities of Christians who not only condoned the untold dehumanization of people through slavery, but who thrived on that evil, and their slavery-sourced head-start has become the silent normal of today’s social and economic landscape of the world. Communities and neighborhoods in Europe were silent and complicit to the horror of the Holocaust. We shall not and cannot be silenced.“
First, comparing 21st century Israel’s self-defense to the cruel treatment inflicted by slave masters throughout history is outrageous and should be self-evidently illogical. Palestinians are not slaves trying to escape to freedom from Israeli tyranny.
And anything remotely drawing moral equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany is a blatant antisemitic slander. “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” is specifically included in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
While Warnock may claim “I Stand With Israel” today, can you really trust he will tomorrow when, as recently as last year, he was comfortable signing his name to the claim that Israel was comparable to multiple racist, totalitarian states?
Steven Emerson is Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org)
David M. Swindle has worked for the last decade as a freelance writer, editor and investigative journalist focused on national security and extremist movements.