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June 14, 2019

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 14, 2019 Getty Images/JTA Montage From left to right, Democratic presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren, Tim Ryan, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders. All five, along with several others, delivered video messages at the American Jewish Committee's 2019 Global Forum. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)--Ev- eryone started by praising the American Jewish Com- mittee, naturally enough. But in their video greetings to the group's annual policy forum here, 13 Democratic candidates proceeded to demonstrate a party grap- pling with what story they should tell to one of its most important demographics: Jewish voters. Some candidates started by decrying anti-Semitism. Others started by holding up the U.S.-Israel relationship. A couple didn't mention Israel at all. Some remarks lasted under a minute, one went over six minutes. Then there were the back- grounds, from the Capitol to a hotel room interior to what appeared to be the exterior of a shipping container. Front- runner Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont, posed in front of a poster touting the band the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Taken together, the 13 vid- eos show a field of Democratic presidential candidates united in a determination to combat right-wing extremism, but di- vided in their interpretations of the U.S.-Israel alliance. The AJC invited most of the 24 declared candidates to contribute a video and 13 complied; longshots like Marianne Williamson, a Jew- ish self-care counselor and author, orWayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, were not invited. Candidates who are leading in the polls or who have had longstand- ing relations with the group had their videos streamed during plenaries. People at- tending the conference and others streaming online were directed to AJC's YouTube channel to watch all 13. Participating were Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massa- chusetts, Sanders of Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand of New Shalom Memorial Proucll . ervin Our Comrnunit Por Over Years ca"a* York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet of Colorado. The governors were Jay Inslee of Washington and former governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Former Vice President Joe Biden shared a video, as did Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Ryan of Ohio, former Rep. John Delaney of Mary- land, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. An AJC spokesman told JTA that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock wanted to submit videos but were not ready in time. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, declined the offer. AJC asked President Donald Trump to contribute a video. He did not. His Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, pre- recorded an interview with AJC CEO David Harris, but spoke mostly about foreign policy, and did not campaign for his boss. Here's what the candidates shared and how they differed: The rise of the extreme right Every one of the 13 can- didates noted the rise of the extreme right and at least al- luded to the two deadly attacks since October on synagogues, in Pittsburgh and in Poway, near San Diego. Some spoke of the threat in general, almost vague terms as if it were a deadly version of whack-a-mole. "We've got a lot of issues that we need to work on in this country, combating anti-Semitism here in the United States and abroad," Ryan said. "We're seeing it pop up periodically all over in communities around the United States." Others spoke in personal terms. Inslee recalled at- tending a memorial service after the Pittsburgh attack at a synagogue in his home state, and Sanders describ- ing his meeting with the Tree of Life rabbi. Gabbard devoted a chunk of her video to describing the discrimina- tion she has faced as a Hindu American--in particular, in the form of biased expres- sions from Republicans in her home state. Harris, whose husband is Jewish husband and who has adult Jewish stepchildren, brought it home with an im- age that parents could identify with: "No one should have to worry about their children's safety when they drop them off at the JCC," she said. Biden and Sanders, leading in the polls, named Trump as a factor in spurring bias. Biden noted Trump's equivocation following the deadly neo- Nazi riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, echoing his attack on the president in the video he released in April launching his campaign. "We are in a battle for the soul of our nation," he said. Sanders, as he has done in the past, identified Trump with rising authoritarianism worldwide. "We see political leaders who exploit people's fears by amplifying resentments stoking intolerance and fan- ning ethnic and racial hatreds among those who are strug- gling," Sanders said. "We see this very clearly in our own country it is coming from the highest level of our gov- ernment." Only Delaney alluded to allegations of anti-Semitism on the Democratic Party's left wing, including in Congress, where Rep. Ilhan Omar, D- Minn has apologized for traf- ficking in anti-Semitic tropes. "We can't enable it, we can't brush it aside, we have to call it out, we have to call it out on the left and we have to call it out on the right," he said. Israel or anti-Semitism first? Sanders, Delaney, Inslee, Gabbard, Biden, Booker, Gillibrand, and Ryan started with decrying the rise of anti-Semitism. Hickenlooper, Warren, Bennet, Harris, But- tigieg started by touting their pro-Israel credentials. Booker and Gabbard did not mention Israel at all, which made sense in Gabbard's case: She has galled the pro-Israel community by accusing Is- raeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of spurring the United States to war with Iran. Why Booker would not mention a country he has vis- ited multiple times, and with which he is closely identified, was not clear. How to assign blame in the Middle East Republicans have sought to depict Democrats as soft on the threats Israel faces and of becoming estranged from the country. Democrats have little love lost for Netanyahu, seeing him as having exacer- 243 West Park Avenue Winter Park, Florida 32789 www'KellyPriceandC rnpany'c rn bated tensions with President Barack Obama and of embrac- ing Trump too closely. That has created a minefield for Democrats, and how each candidate crossed it reflected intraparty tensions. Here were some of the approaches, advanced at times by the same candidate: The "b" word: Harris, Ben- net, Biden and Buttigieg all offered some version of saying that support for Israel must remain "bipartisan." The word has become a code for a perception that the party is drifting from Israel. The "c" word: Criticizing Israel does not mean one is not pro-Israel, a number of candidates asserted. That can be interpreted as "friends sometimes disagree," or plac- ing part of the blame for any rift with the Democrats on Netanyahu. Cue Sanders, Warren, Hickenlooper, Biden and Buttigieg. "The relationship has never been about individual leaders it's been about the kinship, the values," Biden said. "We also have to tell each other the truth and that includes offering criticism on polices that are counterproductive to peace." Warren, notably, was the only candidate to start her video referring to the U.S.- Israel alliance and also to argue that it was okay to have differences, typical of her reputation for delivering hard truths. "In a world of compli- cated threats and challenges, America is stronger when we work with our allies," said Warren, a progressive who sharply criticized Netanyahu for intimating that he might annex parts of the West Bank. "A candid expression of con- cerns does not diminish our friendship." Sanders, who in his 2016 bid for the Democratic nomi- nation set new standards for explicitly criticizing Israel, was the most explicit in taking on Netanyahu. "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist in peace and security who as a young man lived in Israel for a number of months [and] as someone who is deeply con- cerned by the rise of global anti-Semitism, we must say Candidates on page 13A