This is one of series articles on what eight of the Democratic presidential hopefuls have said or done regarding Israel and other Jewish concerns. It was assembled by the staff of the JTA before the latest debate and edited by The Jewish Star for space and style. Link here for the other candidates: Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg
Amy Klobuchar likes to say that she can get things done in Congress. Her appeal as a moderate who can muster support in the middle of the country has fueled her resurgence to relevance in the 2020 campaign.
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the senator from Minnesota is popular among both Jewish Republicans and Democrats in her home state.
“She’s ubiquitous in the Minnesota Jewish community,” Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, told the JTA.
What has she said about anti-Semitism?
In November, Klobuchar’s Twitter account shared an article about how a far right network orchestrated synagogue attacks, and she wrote, “As President, I’ll counter the divisive rhetoric that has grown all too strong in the past few years — and emboldened hate groups. For our Jewish communities & communities of all backgrounds, we must make it clear: there’s no room for hate in America.”
“We must condemn hate without equivocation and stand up for its victims, whether they worship in our Mosques, synagogues or churches,” she wrote on Twitter in March 2019.
After a Jewish Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, was evacuated due to a bomb threat, Klobuchar tweeted, “It is unacceptable for their good work to be threatened by hate.”
When Rep. Ilhan Omar won the Democratic primary for her district in August 2018, Klobuchar congratulated her “friend” and fellow Minnesotan and she defended Omar from Trump’s attacks multiple times since then, but they’re no longer so friendly. Omar has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.
Regarding Omar’s anti-Semitic comments about Jewish dual loyalty, Klobuchar has said, “You can be American and care about other countries, whether it’s Israel or Ethiopia or Canada — and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
What’s her relationship with Jewish groups?
She has a solid relationship with the American Israel Political Affairs Committee. Speaking at AIPAC’s Policy Conference in 2018, Klobuchar said that Israel should remain a bipartisan issue, explaining, “A lot depends on the Jewish community in America because I believe that you can find common ground while still standing your ground.”
Klobuchar also addressed J Street in 2019.
What does she say about BDS?
Klobuchar was the only Democratic presidential candidate to vote in favor of the recent anti-BDS bill, which “codifies $38 billion in defense assistance to Israel and which provides legal cover to states that target the boycott Israel movement.” Other Democrats have expressed concerns that the bill could hamper free speech.
On her Senate website under “National Security Issues,” Klobuchar’s position on BDS reads: “As staunch allies of Israel, we must also ensure that harmful movements, like the resurgence in anti-Semitism and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement are not successful. The BDS movement undermines a two-state solution and is counterproductive to both Israelis and Palestinians.”
What does Klobuchar think about solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
“As president, Senator Klobuchar will get back to a meaningful peace process that combines — not separates — the political and economic tracks, has buy-in from Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world, and ultimately leads to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves that can lead to a two-state solution,” her campaign spokesperson told Vice.
What about aid to Israel? And settlements and annexation of Judea and Samaria?
Tommy Vietor, co-host of Pod Save America, asked Klobuchar about these issues at the J Street conference in October.
“Let me be very clear in how strongly I believe that that promise that the prime minister made during his political campaign was wrong — that he was going to annex a third of the West Bank. Also the Golan Heights. …” But later in the conversation, she affirmed her commitment to continued aid to Israel.
“Allowing Iran to have a foothold in Syria … with Russia does not make Israel any safer and getting out of that [Iran] agreement did not make Israel safer. And that is why I am so wedded right now to making sure we are continuing the aid,” she said.
Any other Israel things to know?
Klobuchar, like many other Democratic candidates, would not move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv. She told the Jewish Insider, “I think it would have been better if that was done as part of a negotiation for a two-state solution. I think it’s unfortunate it was done the way it was done but I wouldn’t reverse it.”
Jewish fun fact
In 2005, she tried to explain what feather boas are to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, while talking about Jesse Ventura, the former pro wrestler and governor of Minnesota.