Interview with Howard Schultz at AIPAC

On Monday afternoon, Howard Schultz, who’s mulling a run for president, attended AIPAC’s Policy Conference and later stopped by the organization’s leadership reception. Schultz had responded to MoveOn’s call for 2020 candidates to skip AIPAC by tweeting: “The unwillingness of the far left to even speak with people they may disagree with is one of the worst symbols of the dysfunction in Washington today. We should actively engage with those who support our longstanding alliance.”

At the conference yesterday, Schultz asked us to share a message with JI readers: “Keep embracing Yiddishkeit, it will serve you well. He later spoke with us about his Jewish identity and views towards Israel. The following interview has been edited for clarity:

You said if you’re going to run for president, you wouldn’t run “as a Jew.” Can you explain?

Howard Schultz: Well, you’ve got to put that in context. I was asked on 60 Minutes, “is the country ready for a Jewish president?” And I said, yes, the country is ready for Jewish president. And the reason I believe that is the goodness and kindness in the American people. And then I said, however, I am Jewish and proud of that, but…If I run for president, I’m running as an American who happens to be Jewish. I also spoke about the fact that in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was running for president, there was an outcry that he was not suitable to be president because he was Catholic. And he demonstrated while he was campaigning, along the same lines. And so I feel very strongly about my pride and my Jewish heritage, but my love of America.

So you’re at AIPAC — Israel, what are your views on it?

Howard Schultz: I’m at AIPAC because I think this a very fragile time with regard to what’s going on politically in the country and obviously within the Middle East. The president’s decision to pull out of Syria, which I didn’t agree with, but I wanted to be here to demonstrate my loyalty and my support of Israel and of AIPAC. With regard to the future of Israel, I’ve been on the record for a long time in my belief in a two state solution, and although we’re a long way from that today, unfortunately, I hope over time that the Palestinians and the Jews can live in harmony. I think it’d be great for the Middle East [and] great for the world.

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