Raphael Warnock
Raphael WarnockReuters

Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat running for Senate in Georgia, on Tuesday commented on controversial remarks related to Israel that he made in a 2018 sermon at his church.

Speaking in a call organized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America and quoted by JTA, Warnock said he had an “increasing recognition” of the danger that Hamas poses to Israel since his harsh criticisms of Israel in that sermon.

Warnock also said he opposed the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“There has been some comment about a sermon I gave in May of 2018,” he said in reference to attacks by his opponent, Republican Kelly Loeffler, who has cited Warnock’s sermon delivered after Israeli troops opened fire on protesters at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

“We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey,” he said at the time.

On Tuesday, he said, “As you might imagine, I’m a pastor. I preach every Sunday, I preach a lot of sermons. And I think that, as I recall that sermon, I was speaking to the issue of activists and human rights, and the ability of people to be heard. At the same time, I have an increasing recognition of Hamas and the danger that they pose to the Israeli people.”

Warnock also unequivocally condemned the BDS movement targeting Israel, and said he supported US defense assistance to Israel and the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In condemning BDS, he noted Israeli solar panel companies operating in Georgia, and their contributions to the Georgia economy.

Warnock has come under fire for his anti-Israel remarks, including from Professor Alan Dershowitz, who recently warned that Warnock’s view on Israel could cost Democrats in the Georgia runoffs.

Dershowitz said that he would be willing to change his mind about Warnock “but only if he changes his mind about Israel.”