The presumptive Democratic 2020 nominee, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, announced on Tuesday that he has picked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate. The decision comes a week before the Democratic National Convention, which will be virtual after the scheduled four-day event in Milwaukee was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If nominated, Harris, 55, would become the first African-American and South Asian to be picked as a running mate for a major-party candidate. She would also be the third woman tapped for the vice-presidential slot on a major-party ticket, following former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican, in 2008, and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-N.Y.) in 1984.
Harris tweeted, “@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for vice president, and do what it takes to make him our commander-in-chief.”
.@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals.
I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 11, 2020
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the perfect team to restore the soul of this nation, to stop President Trump’s hateful agenda and to strengthen American leadership and the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman told JNS.
Harris, who ran for president but dropped out in December, has taken standard Democratic positions related to the Jewish community and the U.S.-Israel relationship, from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.
Recently, she sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump in response to Israel’s expected plans to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, as well as parts of Judea and Samaria, known internationally as the West Bank.
Just days afterwards, she addressed the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference, where she talked about growing up in the Bay Area and even collecting donations for the Jewish National Fund.
Harris married Jewish lawyer Douglas Emhoff, 55, in 2014 in a ceremony that included the smashing of the glass to remember the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, in addition to the suffering the Jewish people have endured throughout history.
Emhoff has two children from a previous marriage.
‘I believe Israel should never be a partisan issue’
At her AIPAC address in 2017, she stressed her support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I believe that the only viable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two states for two people living side by side in peace and security,” she said.
“I believe that a resolution to this conflict cannot be imposed. It must be agreed upon by the parties themselves. Peace can only come through a reconciliation of differences, and that can only happen at the negotiating table. I believe that when any organization delegitimizes Israel, we must stand up and speak out for Israel to be treated equally. That is why the first resolution I co-sponsored as a United States senator was to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and reaffirm that the United States seeks a just, secure and sustainable two-state solution.”
She also addressed anti-Semitism in America, saying “as someone who’s personally prosecuted hate crime, I also believe that we cannot stand by while anti-Semitism, hate crime and bigotry are on the rise, whether that’s a swastika on a Jewish family and children’s services bus in San Francisco or the burning of a mosque in Tampa. That’s why I am pleased to announce for the first time here at AIPAC that I’m introducing a senate resolution that condemns targeting of Jews, as well as any form of religious bias, racism, misogyny or other hateful acts targeting minorities across the United States.”
In April 2017, she signed onto a letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, calling for the end of the world body’s animosity towards the Jewish state.
At the AIPAC conference, she also said, “I believe Israel should never be a partisan issue, and as long as I’m a United States senator, I will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense.”
Like many Democrats, Harris faulted Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States in May 2018 from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal: “[The] decision to violate the Iran nuclear deal jeopardizes our national security and isolates us from our closest allies. This nuclear deal is not perfect, but it is certainly the best existing tool we have to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and avoid a disastrous military conflict in the Middle East.”
“As the international community and the administration’s own national security team has confirmed multiple times, Iran remains in compliance with the deal. In the absence of an Iranian violation, it is reckless to break this agreement without presenting any plan on how to move forward,” she continued. “Instead of establishing a comprehensive, strategic national security policy, this administration is far too focused on scoring political points.”
Harris has pledged to return the United States to the Iran nuclear deal.
In the aftermath of the Oct. 27, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, when a lone gunman killed 11 Jewish worshippers during Shabbat-morning services, Harris immediately called for gun control.
“It’s been 12 days since the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue …. No one should have to live in fear that their community will be the next one struck by gun violence. This isn’t normal. Congress’ inaction is costing lives,” she tweeted.
Jewish and Israel-related groups expressed mixed reactions to the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, picking Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate.
Organizations from the Democratic Majority for Israel to J Street praised the selection of Harris, who would be the first African-American and South Asian to be picked as a running mate for a major-party candidate. She would also be the third woman tapped for the vice-presidential slot, following former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008 and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-N.Y.) in 1984.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the perfect team to restore the soul of this nation, to stop [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump’s hateful agenda, and to strengthen American leadership and the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman told JNS.
In a statement, Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director and former Harris national security adviser Halie Soifer said, “Harris prioritizes the same issues as Jewish voters and will work diligently to defend our values in the White House alongside our next president, Joe Biden.”