Los Angeles resident and potential “Second Mensch” of the United States Doug Emhoff knows what it means to stand up against anti-Semitism and is confident that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will fight for all people, including the Jewish community.
Speaking at the virtual Jewish Floridians Summit on Aug. 28, Emhoff, who is Jewish, spoke about his Jewish upbringing — which included playing sports at his Jewish summer camp and wearing a three-piece suit to his bar mitzvah — his work with the California-based Jewish nonprofit Bet Tzedek, his family, and why his wife will make a great vice president.
Mentioning Harris’ work as a lawyer, district attorney in San Francisco, senator and California’s attorney general, Emhoff also touched on her passion for climate change legislation, protecting health care and immigrants, helping win marriage equality for Californians and fighting racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.
Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof, (Justice, Justice, you shall pursue) is a major Jewish value and Emhoff noted, “Every bit of her core is this pursuit of justice. It’s who she is as ‘mamala,’ as a friend, as a pillar of the community. It comes from a deep place within her, which is so deep in our Jewish tradition,” he said. “It elevated my game to do more just by watching her. … It’s not just a chapter of her story, it’s the whole book.”
Emhoff also spoke to the predominantly Jewish Floridian audience about the escalating anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred under President Donald Trump’s administration. He cited the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in Virginia, the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the various Crown Heights attacks on the Orthodox community in New York, the 2019 Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting in San Diego County and, most recently, the arson attack at the Chabad center at the University of Delaware.
“Jewish Americans have seen hatred rise against us, and just the other day an arsonist intentionally set a fire at the Chabad center in Joe’s home state of Delaware,” Emhoff said. “Joe sent out a powerful statement. I hope you all have seen it. We need more than ever reassurance that our political leaders have our backs. A Biden-Harris administration will stand strong against anti-Semitism, period. They have a comprehensive plan to tackle both the violence that stems from anti-Semitism and hateful and dangerous lies that drive it. Joe and Kamala will call hate by its proper name, whatever its source, and condemn it, each and every time. They will also restore funding to address domestic extremism which the Trump administration has cut.”
Emhoff also spoke about Israel-United States relations under a possible Biden-Harris administration. While Emhoff was becoming bar mitzvah, Harris was going door-to-door raising money for the Jewish National Fund to plant trees in Israel. Having been there three times, once with Emhoff, he said, “For Kamala, Israel isn’t a political football. Its future as a secure Jewish and Democratic state is non-negotiable. I can assure you all of that.”
He added even on their first date, Kamala listed “Jewish bona fides,” saying her mother spent years working for a Jewish hospital, and how much her trips to Israel meant to her. “To this day, she always talks about visiting one of the great places of the world, the Israeli Supreme Court, which I got to go see because of her,” Emhoff said. “Now she wants to use this leadership, this platform and this opportunity to lay down roots of peace and safety for all of Israel and Israel’s children.”
Being a friend to Israel, he added, and lending support to a two-state solution, as well as aiding the Iron Dome and intelligence cooperation, is something that is important to her.
“Everything we care about is on the line,” Emhoff said. “We need to do more than win. We need a mandate. We are so much better than this. It’s up to us to prove it.”
Watch the full summit below: