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Ahead of key Senate vote, Georgia candidates lay out cases for Jewish community

Jon Ossoff, sole Jewish candidate, accuses opponent David Perdue of unrepentant anti-Semitism; Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock trade accusations over BDS and white supremacy

This combination of photos shows Democratic candidate for Senate Jon Ossoff, left, on Nov. 10, 2020, and Republican candidate for Senate Sen. David Perdue on Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. The two are in a runoff election for the Senate seat. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
This combination of photos shows Democratic candidate for Senate Jon Ossoff, left, on Nov. 10, 2020, and Republican candidate for Senate Sen. David Perdue on Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. The two are in a runoff election for the Senate seat. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

JTA — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and David Perdue have all responded to the Atlanta Jewish Times’ call for them to publish letters in the publication aimed directly at Georgia’s Jewish community ahead of their closely watched runoff elections for US Senate seats.

Kelly Loeffler followed suit but decided not to publish hers in the Times, publishing a statement on her website by her deputy campaign manager on Saturday instead.

The two races, which take place January 5 and will determine control of the Senate, have featured contentious Jewish issues, and the candidates’ statements all addressed them.

Ossoff, the lone Jewish candidate, who noted in his letter that he was “raised among relatives who survived the Shoah,” called his Republican opponent Perdue “a virulent and unrepentant anti-Semite” for elongating Ossoff’s noise in a campaign ad and not issuing a public apology.

“A US senator who uses ancient anti-Semitic imagery to inflame hatred against his Jewish opponent must be crushed by Jewish voters on Election Day,” the Democrat Ossoff wrote.

This combination of photos shows Raphael Warnock, left, a Democratic candidate for the US Senate. and Republican US Senate candidate Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Nov. 3, 2020, in Atlanta. The two are in a runoff election for the Senate seat. (AP Photos)

Warnock, whose positions on Israel have been criticized by Republicans, wrote that while he supports the First Amendment right to protest and is “deeply concerned” about Israeli settlement expansion, he firmly opposes the boycott Israel movement and what he called its “anti-Semitic underpinnings.”

Perdue led his letter with praise for US President Donald Trump’s Israel policy but also claimed that “fighting anti-Semitism in all forms and at all levels” has been his priority and argued that the BDS movement “has served as a catalyst to the rising frequency of attacks against Jews.”

Loeffler similarly lauded Trump’s Israel moves, such as moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but spent a large portion of her statement attacking Warnock, who she described as “the most radically liberal candidate anywhere in the country.” She said Warnock would “add yet another voice to the anti-Israel cadre in Congress,” mentioning Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who unlike Warnock support the BDS movement.

Loeffler has been dogged by criticism that she has ties to anti-Semitic movements. She campaigned before November with newly-elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the first member of Congress who has boosted the QAnon conspiracy theory. And last week a photo of Loeffler posing with a known white supremacist circulated online. She claims she did not who the man was while posing with him.

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