Joe Biden selects Kamala Harris as running mate

She is the first African American woman to run for vice president.

Sen. Kamala Harris in the Russell Senate Office Building, June 24, 2020 (photo credit: TOM WILLIAMS/CQ ROLL CALL/GETTY IMAGES/JTA)
Sen. Kamala Harris in the Russell Senate Office Building, June 24, 2020
(photo credit: TOM WILLIAMS/CQ ROLL CALL/GETTY IMAGES/JTA)
WASHINGTON – Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has selected Kamala Harris as his running mate. She is the first woman of color to run for this position.
“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris  – a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants – as my running mate,” Biden said in a tweet on Tuesday night.

“Joe Biden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us,” Harris said in her first statement since her selection. “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.”
Harris, a senator from California, is married to Douglas Emhoff, a lawyer at a Los Angeles firm, who is Jewish.
US President Donald Trump quickly reacted to Harris’s selection in a statement, reminding the public that “not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received. Clearly, Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party.”
His administration accused Biden of being an “empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the Left.”
Upon the announcement of her selection, former national security adviser Susan Rice, who was considered for the role, tweeted that Harris is a “tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail.” Rice said she would do everything possible to assist the Biden-Harris ticket and help them govern successfully.

Former US president Bill Clinton called Harris a “terrific choice” and said she and Biden would make a strong team. Hillary Clinton said she was “thrilled” to welcome Harris to a historic Democratic ticket.
“Please join me in having her back and getting her elected,” Hillary Clinton said.
Former US president Barack Obama also responded, saying Harris “spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. This is a good day for our country.”
“She’s been in the Senate a relatively brief time, so she doesn’t necessarily have the longest record in dealing with Israel,” Mark Mellman, president and CEO of The Mellman Group, a polling and consulting firm in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post. “But she has been strongly pro-Israel throughout her career and certainly in the statements she’s made and the votes she’s cast so far.”
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida) said in reaction to her appointment, “I share her commitment to strengthening the US-Israel relationship.”
Democratic Jewish Council of America head Haile Soifer said she believes 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.”
Soifer said she is Harris’s former national security adviser and therefore knows firsthand “her support of the US-Israel relationship, her commitment to ensuring access to affordable healthcare and education, her intolerance for hatred and bigotry and her unwavering efforts to protect our country’s most vulnerable communities.”
Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro tweeted: “Three years after racists marched in Charlottesville, Joe Biden took a huge step toward restoring the soul of our nation in picking a stellar running mate.” He said he was going to “vote for #BidenHarris2020!”
Republican Jewish Coalition head Matt Brooks said: “Joe Biden has sealed the Democrat Party’s move to the extreme Left with the choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate.” He accused Harris of not standing with Israel and the Jewish community.
“Harris is right up there with the Bernie Sanders wing of the party,” Brooks said. “A Biden-Harris White House would push the Left’s agenda on the American people, weakening our national security, choking off our economic opportunities, endangering our allies and weakening our relationship with Israel.”

Harris was born in 1964 in Oakland, California. She graduated from Howard University and earned her law degree from the University of California. She worked as city attorney and district attorney of San Francisco, before being elected as California’s attorney-general in 2010 and again in 2014.
“Look at my own life, where a daughter of a South Asian mother and a Jamaican father concluded her own interfaith wedding with her husband, breaking glass and everyone yelling mazal tov,” she said in her speech at AIPAC in 2017.
The main challenge in trying to define her position on Israel is that she has only served in the Senate for three years and that she is not a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
This situation puts Harris in a unique position among the Democrats: While centrist Democrats are disappointed with her stance in favor of rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement, progressives look at her record and see someone who spoke at AIPAC conference three times in three years (publicly in 2017 and 2018 and privately with constituents in 2019) and who promoted a resolution that opposed Obama’s Security Council condemnation of Israel during his last week in office.
 
Her promotion of the resolution was during January of 2017, days after Harris officially was sworn in as a senator. She had joined Sen. Marco Rubio and a large group of senators to promote the resolution.
“[The Senate] Objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 and to all efforts that undermine direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a secure and peaceful settlement,” the text reads. “The United Nations is not the appropriate venue and should not be a forum used for seeking unilateral action, recognition, or dictating parameters for a two-state solution, including the status of Jerusalem; it is also the historic position of the United States government to oppose and veto one-sided or anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.”
It never got a vote on the floor, but nevertheless, it was the first resolution she had co-sponsored as a senator.
“I believe that when any organization delegitimizes Israel, we must stand up and speak out for Israel to be treated equally,” she said a few weeks later during her AIPAC speech. “That is why the first resolution I co-sponsored as 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.”
In the same speech, she also spoke out against antisemitism in the US: “As someone who’s personally prosecuted hate crime, I also believe that we cannot stand by while antisemitism, 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. No one should have to be afraid to put a menorah in their front window or on their front lawn.”
 
“She has been a lifelong supporter of Israel,” says Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, who previously served as national security adviser to Harris. “In that speech, she laid out a very personal narrative about her connection with Israel.”
 
“She has talked about the importance of ensuring that the US-Israel relationship remains strong and not be politicized in the way that this administration has done to divide Democrats,” Soifer added. “I think she’s very supportive of the US-Israel relationship.”
In February, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota drew criticism from many Jewish organizations for using antisemitic tropes such as “allegiance to a foreign country,” and “all about the Benjamins.” Harris’s critics argue that her response to Omar was soft.
 
“We all have a responsibility to speak out against antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” she said in a statement then. “But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”
 
Another criticism of Harris is her support for the Iran nuclear deal, as well as her position in favor of rejoining the agreement.
Aaron Keyak, former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told the Post that the majority of Democrats support rejoining the deal, and therefore Harris’s personal opinion is not unusual.
 
“People who argue that being pro-JCPOA means, by definition, being anti-Israel, just aren’t relevant to the policy debate within the Democratic primary,” he said.
  
In 2016, while running for Senate, she was asked by The Jewish News of Northern California if she would support or oppose legislation characterizing the settlements as illegal. While she did not directly answer the question, her response is surprisingly similar to a phrase that we often hear from Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt about the prospects of peace with the Palestinians.
“The terms of any agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians cannot be imposed by others in the world,” she told the Jewish outlet. “The US and our allies in Europe and the Arab world can and should help facilitate an agreement to create peace and bring both parties to the table, but the Israelis and Palestinians themselves must negotiate and approve the terms of any peace agreement. Lasting peace can only be found through bilateral negotiations that protect Israel’s identity, ensure security for all people and include the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”
 
She also expressed objection to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and said that it is “based on the mistaken assumption that Israel is solely to blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” She added that “the BDS movement seeks to weaken Israel, but it will only isolate the nation and steer Israelis against prerequisite compromises for peace ... I believe we should not isolate Israel, the only democracy in the region.”
 
In 2017, she visited Israel – not for the first time. She started her visit with a Shabbat dinner with a group of Israeli activists, before visiting the Western Wall, Yad Vashem, and the Supreme Court. “It was a remarkable trip,” Soifer, who traveled with Harris to Israel, told the Post. “She had the opportunity to reaffirm the ties, not only between the US and Israel, but also between California and Israel.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid, who met with Harris in November 2017, was the first Israeli politician to congratulate her on her nomination. He called her "a friend."
Opposition leader Yair Lapid with Kamala Harris in November 2017 (Courtesy Yair Lapid)Opposition leader Yair Lapid with Kamala Harris in November 2017 (Courtesy Yair Lapid)
 
“Having grown up in the Bay area, I fondly remember those Jewish National Fund boxes that we would use to collect donations to plant trees for Israel,” Harris told the audience at the AIPAC conference. “Years later, when I visited Israel for the first time, I saw the fruits of that effort and the Israeli ingenuity that has truly made a desert bloom.”
 
“I soaked in the sights and sounds and smells of Jerusalem,” she continued. “I stood in Yad Vashem, devastated by the silent testimonies of the six million Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust, and we must always remember that solemn promise. Never again.”
 
In her visit, she asked to promote cooperation between Israel and the US in water and cybersecurity projects. She also went to see some of the cyber companies in Beersheba and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

She also visited east Jerusalem and met with students from Al-Quds University.
“The senator praised the university for the ‘incredible education’ it was offering its students,” the Palestinian News Network reported.
 
According to the Palestinian outlet, “Harris said that she had driven by the separation wall on her way to Al-Quds University, and asked the students if the wall presented ‘a real barrier’ to their movement. The classroom unanimously exclaimed ‘yes’ and expressed their anger about the restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli authorities.”