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Rep. Ted Lieu Discusses Race, Israel and 2020 Elections With IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous

“We need to continue to have a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Lieu said. “That doesn’t mean that we need to agree with everything the Israeli government is doing."
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June 30, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 09: Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) questions Intelligence Committee Minority Counsel Stephen Castor and Intelligence Committee Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman during House impeachment inquiry hearings before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill December 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. The hearing is being held for the Judiciary Committee to formally receive evidence in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, whom Democrats say held back military aid for Ukraine while demanding they investigate his political rivals. The White House declared it would not participate in the hearing. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Congressman Ted Lieu supports a two-state solution for Israel; foresees significant change across a number of areas should voters flip the senate in November; remains optimistic that scientists ultimately will find a cure for the novel coronavirus; and encourages constituents to get in touch when something is going right or when they feel an issue needs attention.

“Public sentiment is everything, and social media resonates,” the three-term congressman and former California state senator told a Zoom audience during a “Meet the Rep.” panel organized by IKAR.

The hourlong discussion on June 29 was moderated by Rabbi Sharon Brous and IKAR’s Director of Community Organizing Brooke Wirtschafter who fielded questions from attendees. Lieu, who sits on the House Committee on the Judiciary, touched on an array of topics, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter to climate control and the allegations that Russia placed bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In the midst of the pandemic, Lieu called it “insane” that certain people, including key politicians, refused to wear masks, but was diplomatic when asked his opinion of who should be Joe Biden’s running mate. “Many of the leading candidates are friends of mine, so I think they would all be great,” he said.

During his opening remarks, Lieu addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, the call for justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and the forecast of the upcoming November presidential election. He predicted huge lines at ballot boxes, encouraged people to vote from home, and hoped the nation’s 50 secretaries of state — Republican and Democrats alike — would do their best to run fair and uncontroversial elections in their respective states. He agreed with Brous’ view that President Donald Trump would likely contend that any results not in his or his party’s favor would be the result of voter fraud.

“He said that in the last election when he lost the popular vote,” Lieu said. “He sort of keeps saying this, but it’s not clear to me how much the American people actually believes it, so we’ll see what happens in November.”

On COVID-19 and the nation’s battered economy, Lieu referenced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act several times, expressing his hope that the Senate would pass it.

“We need to continue to have a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. That doesn’t mean that we need to agree with everything the Israeli government is doing. You have a number of members of Congress who are now expressing their views that the Israeli government should not go forward with annexation.”  — Rep. Ted Lieu

In the wake of the civil unrest and calls for change following the May 25 death of Floyd, Brous asked whether the United States had arrived at a moment to make substantive change “or is this going to be a moment of tweaking and slight reform and then people are going to lose interest and the next thing is going to come?”

“You have a lot of people who are still demonstrating, and I think when Black Lives Matter first came out, a lot of people didn’t quite understand what that term meant,” Lieu said. “The reason I think people now get it — when they saw the murder of George Floyd —  something clicked in their minds … that the system does not, in fact, treat lives the same way. It treats Black lives as less important. And that’s why you have had this persistent systematic murder of Black Americans by our government.”

Lieu emphasized his desire to see the Justice in Policing Act passed into law in 2021 if Trump is voted out of office. Asked later to commit to not accepting donations, contributions or endorsements from police, sheriff or prison guard unions or their political action committees, Lieu replied, “I have a different view. My view is not that police officers are bad people or police unions are bad. I think it’s a system that needs to be changed. The system allows not only bad cops to do bad things. It also allows good cops to look the other way. That’s what we’re trying to change.”

Toward the end of the event, Lieu was asked his opinion on the state of relations between the United States and Israel and his views on Israel’s potential plans to annex portions of the West Bank. The Congressman, who signed a Congressional letter opposing annexation, said that annexation “would bring us further away from a two-state solution.”

“We need to continue to have a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Lieu said. “That doesn’t mean that we need to agree with everything the Israeli government is doing. You have a number of members of Congress who are now expressing their views that the Israeli government should not go forward with annexation.”

“We share your view on that,” Wirtschafter replied, “and we want you to know that you have the backing of us and really, the vast majority of the Jewish community in this country and certainly in Los Angeles, for working toward a two-state solution and for calling on Israel to live up to its democratic values to respect the human rights of all people who live under the control of its government.”

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