WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Jewish candidate for Illinois governor dropped his running mate over a disagreement about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
“Growing up with an Israeli mother, grandparents who survived the Holocaust, and great-grandparents who did not survive, issues related to the safety and security of the Jewish people are deeply personal to me,” Daniel Biss, a state senator, and a mathematician, said in a statement Wednesday on his campaign website explaining what he said was a “difficult” decision to part ways with Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa just a week after announcing their ticket.
“I strongly support a two-state solution,” Biss said. “I support Israel’s right to exist, and I support Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. I also care deeply about justice for Palestinians and believe that a vision for the Middle East must include political and economic freedom for Palestinians. That’s why I oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, as I believe it moves us further away from a peaceful solution.”
Biss said that he had raised BDS in the interview process and he understood that Ramirez-Rosa opposed it. In a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ramirez suggested that he opposed BDS on the local and state level — he notably voted against it in a council vote in 2015 — but supported it at the federal level.
“The difference of opinion we have on the role the BDS movement plays at the federal level would make it impossible to continue moving forward as a ticket,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
Biss came under pressure after it was revealed that Ramirez-Rosa, in an interview a year ago, prior to the Democratic National Convention, said that “for too long the U.S. government has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people.” Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., a Jewish Chicago-area congressman, dropped his endorsement of Biss, running in a crowded field of nine for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Biss earned unusual support for his decision from a former spokesman for Gov. Bruce. Rauner, a Republican whom Biss may face in next year’s election.
“Under Governor Rauner’s leadership, Illinois became the first state in America to divest its public pension funds from companies that participate in BDS,” Richard Goldberg said in a statement. “This should always be a bipartisan issue and I applaud Congressman Schneider and Senator Biss for making clear to the far-left that BDS has no place in the Democratic Party.”