Where Elizabeth Warren stands on issues that matter to Jewish voters in 2020
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US presidential race 2020

Where Elizabeth Warren stands on issues that matter to Jewish voters in 2020

As the US presidential race heats up, along with domestic policy American Jews consider candidates’ takes on Israel, anti-Semitism, and more

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat-Massachusetts, speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University, October 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (John Minchillo/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat-Massachusetts, speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University, October 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (John Minchillo/AP)

Elizabeth Warren, the progressive senator from Massachusetts, emerged early on as a front-runner in the crowded Democratic primary race. Let’s dive into her positions on all things Jewish.

First up: What has Warren said and done to address anti-Semitism?

“Let’s be clear, anti-Semitism has no place in democracy,” Warren said in a June 2019 address to the American Jewish Committee Global Forum. She called anti-Semitic graffiti in her home state “cowardly acts of hate” and condemned the defacement of Jewish gravestones in Fall River, Massachusetts as a “hateful act.”

After the anti-Semitic shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018, Warren attended Shabbat services at Temple Emanuel in Newton as a part of the #ShowUpForShabbat campaign organized by the American Jewish Committee. At Temple Emanuel, she led the congregation in reciting a prayer for the welfare of the United States.

Her official campaign Twitter account tweeted twice in the wake of Pittsburgh, once after the Chabad of Poway shooting, once after the Halle shooting in Germany, once on Yom HaShoah (Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day) and on US Holocaust Memorial Day.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, left, whispers to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, outside the Capitol in Washington, March 8, 2019. (AP /J. Scott Applewhite)

After Rep. Ilhan Omar was criticized for making what some saw as anti-Semitic remarks about Jewish wealth and influence in February, the House voted on a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism. It was largely seen as a rebuke of Omar’s comments.

Warren slammed the resolution, which she said was an attempt to silence debate, arguing that “branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.”

What does Warren say about the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — commonly referred to as BDS?

“I don’t support the boycott, I think the boycott is wrong, but I think outlawing protected free speech activity violates our basic constitution,” she said in response to the controversial Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which she voted against in February 2019.

Her director for progressive partnerships, Max Berger, helped found the anti-occupation group IfNotNow and tweeted in 2017 that he “agree[s] with BDS.”

Democratic presidential candidate US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a community conversation at the East Las Vegas Community Center on July 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.(Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP)

What American Jewish groups does Warren work with?

As a senator, Warren accepted the endorsement of J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobbying group.

During the government shutdown in late 2018 and early 2019, Warren pledged her salary to HIAS — formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society — a Jewish non-profit that supports refugees. (Salaries of Congress members were not frozen during the shutdown.)

What is Warren’s general position on Israel?

She’s supportive, yet critical of some of its policies.

“Israel lives in a dangerous part of the world where there are not a lot of liberal democracies,” Warren said shortly after declaring her presidential bid. “We need a strong Israel there.”

“America has a very special relationship with Israel,” Warren said in an August 2014 town hall. “Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world… And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

However, in a video Q&A with The New York Times in June 2019, Warren said “the current situation” in Israel-Palestine is “not tenable.” When an IfNotNow member asked her if she would “push the Israeli government to end the occupation” in July, she said yes.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) addresses a crowd outside of the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center October 26, 2019 in Florence, South Carolina. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP)

Where does Warren generally stand on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

In 2014, she voted in favor of $225 million in funding for Iron Dome, Israel’s missile-interception system. She also defended Israel’s actions during the 2014 Gaza War, explaining, “When Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”

In 2015, she voted for the Iran nuclear deal that Netanyahu opposed.

In April 2018, during the protests of Israeli occupation at the Gaza border, Warren urged Israeli restraint.

“I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza,” Warren said. “As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”

US Senator Elizabeth Warren announces her candidacy for president at the Everett Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts on February 9, 2019. (Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP)

Warren also supports a two-state solution: A spokesperson for the campaign, Alexis Krieg, told JTA that “Senator Warren believes a two-state solution is the outcome that is best for US interests, for Israel’s security and its future, and for ensuring Palestinian rights, freedom and self-determination. As president, she will seek ways to preserve the viability of the two-state solution on the ground.”

In October 2019, Warren said in a speech that “it is the official policy of the United States of America to support a two-state solution, and if Israel is moving in the opposite direction, then everything is on the table.”

Would Warren would leverage US aid to Israel to achieve a two-state solution?

When asked at a speech in October if she meant using aid to pressure Israel, Warren didn’t specify, and repeated that “everything is on the table.”

As Warren explained in a video addressed to the 2019 J Street conference, “We must find ways to make tangible progress on the ground toward a two-state solution. Sometimes that might mean finding ways to apply pressure and create consequences for problematic behavior as previous Democratic and Republican presidents have done.”

“For example,” she continued, “if Israel’s government continues with steps to formally annex the West Bank, the United States should make it clear that none of our aid should be used to support annexation.”

Warren, like most Democratic candidates, is against further settlement construction in the West Bank.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Nov. 24, 2014 (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

How does Warren get along with Netanyahu?

“Let’s be clear: We can speak out against the far-right-wing policies of the Netanyahu government like annexation and settlements while supporting Israel,” Warren said in her 2019 J Street video. She has also stated that the US should “call out Netanyahu’s corruption.” In April 2019, when Netanyahu pledged to annex parts of the West Bank if reelected, Warren was one of the first Democratic candidates to speak out against such a move.

In November 2017, Warren was one of 10 senators to sign a letter to Netanyahu urging him to not demolish the Palestinian villages of Sussiya and Khan al-Ahmar. Israel said both were unauthorized.

Jewish fun fact

Warren has been endorsed by Jewish celebrities such as Amy Schumer, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Gloria Steinem and Scarlett Johansson.

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