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The Democratic candidate for a House seat in upstate New York faced criticism from his Republican rival this week over comments he made questioning Israel’s ability to remain a democracy while building Jewish settlements amongst the Palestinians.
The Democrat, Antonio Delgado, is facing incumbent Rep. John Faso in New York’s 19th congressional district, considered one of the tightest races in the country and a critical seat for Democrats as they seek control of the House of Representatives. Jewish residents make up over nine percent of the New York district, which spans Hudson Valley.
“It has become clear to me that being pro-Israel and being pro-peace is critical but I am also pro-democracy,” Antonio Delgado said in a debate with Faso. “As currently constructed, you know, Israel is not a Jewish democracy. Those settlements make it so that it can’t be.”
“We have got to have a two-state solution,” he added.
Delgado’s wife and children identify as Jewish, and in a statement issued after the debate to Jewish Insider, a daily online newsletter, the Democrat underscored his commitment to Israel without pulling back on his criticism of the government’s conduct.
“As I made clear in the debate and in my statements throughout this campaign, I have a deep personal and family connection to the state of Israel,” Delgado said. “As a member of Congress, I will do everything in my power to ensure it’s security is safeguarded, which is also profoundly in America’s national interest.”
Faso, meanwhile, said Delgado’s remarks were “insulting” to the people of Israel and claimed his opponent fails to understand that Israel today remains both Jewish and democratic.
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Consecutive US administrations have warned that Israel risks undermining its democratic character should it continue its military occupation of the West Bank, denying Palestinians full rights and sovereignty. But no president since the Oslo Accords were signed 25 years ago have claimed that Israel is anything other than a Jewish democracy.
A large majority of American Jews nationwide– over 74%– plan on voting for Democrats on November 6, according to polling data released last week.
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