Republican Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler is as vile as they come in the world of today’s politics.
For starters, multi-millionaire Loeffler received a confidential briefing as a senator about the coming COVID pandemic in January and from there dumped millions of dollars in stocks before the stock market crashed in February. While Loeffler denies she directed the sales of the stocks, local media fact-checkers “cannot verify if Loeffler, or someone she directed, dumped stocks using inside information.”
She “adamantly” opposes the Black Lives Matter movement, which simply wants to ensure the lives of Black Americans are valued the same as white, calling it “fascist” and “Marxist.” When pressed by her Democratic opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock, about criminal justice reform, she claimed that she opposed racism but weeks later was pictured posing next to a well-known former Ku Klux Klan leader.
While Loeffler denied knowing who he was, she has a history of proudly palling around with other right-wing extremists tied to white nationalism such as Jack Posobiec, who has a well-documented history of tweeting “multiple anti-Semitic memes and has often made reference to the numbers 14 and 88—codes frequently used by neo-Nazis.”
And now this robotic rubber stamp for Donald Trump is going after her opponent Warnock for viewing Palestinians as deserving of humanity. In a recent campaign commercial, she took a sermon of Warnock, who is a pastor at the famous Atlanta church where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. used to preach, speaking about Palestinians out of context in a desperate effort to distract from her own scandals.
The ad features Warnock, who is vying to become Georgia’s first Black senator, speaking at the pulpit in 2018 after the Trump administration opened the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem over the objections of numerous nations.
In response to that event, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza protested—most unarmed but some armed and allegedly throwing “explosive devices”—that led to one of the bloodiest days in years in the area as Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, and wounded over 1,200 people. As the Guardian reported at the time, “To international condemnation, Israeli snipers have regularly fired on demonstrators in past rallies.”
That incident prompted Warnock—who in 2019 travelled to Israel and the Palestinian territories with a delegation of Black church leaders from the United States and the South African Council of Churches—to give a fiery sermon in which he spoke of “young Palestinian sisters and brothers, who are struggling for their very lives, struggling for water and struggling for their human dignity, stood up in a non-violent protest, saying, ‘If we’re going to die, we’re going to die struggling.’”
He criticized the violence by some Palestinian protesters but noted how, just as we see with some media coverage of BLM, “We know what it’s like to stand up and have a peaceful demonstration and have the media focus on a few violent uprisings.”
He then spoke the lines Loeffler focused on in her ad. The first was his comment, “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey.” Obviously, the term “birds of prey” is highly inflammatory, but Loeffler of course did not include the lines that followed, where Warnock added, “And I don’t care who does it, it is wrong. It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all.”
Adding to Loeffler’s deceptiveness is the fact that her ad didn’t show an image of the overwhelmingly unarmed protesters in Gaza but instead featured armed militants holding weapons. The ad then depicted Warnock stating that Palestinians “have a right to self-determination,” followed by Loeffler’s baseless claim that Palestinians want to destroy America. My late Palestinian father moved to America because it offered a better life for himself and his future family—he gratefully loved this nation until he died.
Finally, the ad ends after showing images of what appears to be the remnants of a terrorist attack by Palestinian militants with Warnock declaring, “Palestinian Lives Matter.” Given Loeffler’s hate for the Black Lives Matter movement, it follows perfectly that she also despises the concept that brown lives should matter.
Loeffler’s attack on Warnock as being “anti-Israel” is less about appealing to Jewish voters who overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates as it is to appeal to white evangelical voters who are dogmatically pro-Israel. But in today’s GOP it’s apparently not enough to be a supporter of Israel; you must also be cruelly anti-Palestinian—as we saw with Donald Trump’s heartless ending of aid that once provided Palestinian refugees with much-needed food, educational resources, and medical supplies.
In response to Loeffler’s attacks, Warnock has made it clear that he’s “a staunch ally and supporter of Israel and the Jewish community in our state.” He also publicly opposes the BDS movement, which encourages sanctions and boycotts of Israel.
Jewish leaders in Atlanta have come out to loudly defend Warnock against charges he’s anti-Semitic, as has the Jewish Democratic Council which tweeted, “We’re proud to endorse @ReverendWarnock because he is a proven friend to the Jewish community.”
In the time of Trump, it has felt that as a nation we’ve moved backwards on certain areas that I never expected to see. One is Trump openly defending white supremacy and other extremists. Another is Loeffler’s attempt to use the tired cliché of alleging that any criticism of Israeli policy is inherently “anti-Semitic.”
It’s time to move forward and end the despicable playbook of right-wing politicians that Palestinians—be they Christian or Muslim—are to be viewed as less than human. The hope is Warnock will prevail in this election—to demonstrate that tactics like Loeffler’s won’t work—and in his bigger goal of making the case that Palestinian lives should matter.