November 9, 2020 — New York
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris expressed strong support for Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship, while voicing alarm over rising antisemitism in the United States. Their remarks to the 2019 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum offer insights into their stances on two of the major policy concerns set forth in AJC’s statement of congratulations to Biden after his successful election was confirmed on Saturday.
“Support for Israel is too important to be a political football or a partisan issue. It’s about what unites us as a people,” said Biden, who first visited Israel in 1973 as a freshman U.S. senator. “The relationship between our nations has been about the kinship, the connection, the values, that Americans and Israeli share. Our shared democratic values, our spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, our determination to overcome every obstacle and endure.”
Harris told the AJC Global Forum that “Israel is a critical friend and ally to the United States. I will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense.”
She explained that she stands with Israel “because of our shared values, which are so fundamental to the founding of our nations. I believe the bonds between the people of the United States and the people of Israel are unbreakable, and we can never let anyone drive a wedge between us.”
Harris also addressed the issue of Israel’s treatment at the UN. “When any organization delegitimizes Israel, we must stand up and speak out against it. Israel must be treated equally. That’s why the first resolution I cosponsored as a United States Senator was to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.”
On the issue of rising antisemitism in the United States, both Biden and Harris were adamant in their condemnations of the threats and attacks against Jews, and the need for the nation to unite in combating this hatred.
Biden said, “We see all too clearly how the poison of antisemitism continues to affect our society.” Noting that what transpired in Charlottesville, where white supremacist groups were “chanting the same anti-Semitic bile we heard across Europe in the 1930s,” prompted him to run for the presidency, Biden said there is “no moral equivalence between those who promote hate and those who oppose it.”
“Make no mistake about it. We are in a battle for the soul of our nation. We have to stand up, we have to speak out against antisemitism,” said Biden. “Silence is complicity.”
“As the Senator who represents Poway and someone who personally prosecuted hate crimes I believe we need to speak the truth that antisemitism is real in this country,” said Harris. “We cannot stand by while antisemitism, hate crimes, and bigotry are on the rise. This violence and hate are alarming and simply unacceptable. No one should have to worry about their children’s safety when they drop them off at the JCC. We all need to join together to stand up and speak out against it.
The AJC Global Forum is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event. More than 2,500 civic, political, and Jewish leaders from across the United States and 50 countries around the world were present to hear Biden and Harris in June 2019.