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Views on Israel of U.S. Presidential Candidates 2020:
Julián Castro

(1974 - )

Julián Castro* was born on September 16, 1974, in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Maria “Rosie” Castro and Jessie Guzman. Never married, Rosie and Jessie separated when Castro and his brother were eight years old. Julián is the identical twin brother of current United States Representative Joaquin Castro.

Castro frequently speaks about how he was inspired by his mother. “Mother instilled in Joaquin and me the power of action,” he has said. “During her campaign as the first Chicana to run for San Antonio city council, she taught us that if you want to make a change in your community, you don’t wait— you work. You make your future happen.”

Castro attended Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, where he played football, basketball and tennis. He skipped his sophomore year and graduated in 1992. He had received an offer to play tennis at Trinity University but chose to attend Stanford University.

Castro graduated from Stanford in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications. He said he began thinking about entering politics while at Stanford, where he and his brother launched their first campaigns and won student senate seats, tying for the highest number of votes. Between his sophomore and junior years, Castro worked as an intern at the White House during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Castro entered Harvard Law School in 1997 and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 2000. After law school, he worked for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

In 2001, Castro was elected to the San Antonio City Council. At age 26 he was the youngest city councilman in San Antonio history,

In 2005, Castro ran for mayor of San Antonio. After being defeated, he started his own law firm with his brother.

Castro ran for mayor and won in 2009. He easily won re-election in 2011 and 2013.

In 2010, Castro was named to the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders. Later that year, Time magazine placed him on its “40 under 40” list of rising stars in American politics.

In 2011 he led a delegation of businesspeople and clergy to Israel, where he signed a friendship-city agreement with Tel Aviv.

Castro gained national attention in 2012 when he was the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. Following the 2012 elections, Castro declined President Obama’s offer to become Secretary of Transportation; he accepted the position in 2014 and resigned as mayor. He was the youngest member of Obama’s Cabinet.

After leaving office in 2017, Castro returned to Texas and was encouraged to run for statewide office. According to Sydney Ember, “some Texas Democrats believe he missed an opportunity to advance his career and gain the kind of political profile that could have fortified his presidential run.”

In 2018, Castro was named as the Dean’s Distinguished Fellow and Fellow of the Dávila Chair in International Trade Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. The same year he published his memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream.

Castro formally announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on January 12, 2019. In his announcement, Castro emphasized Medicare-for-all, universal pre-K, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

Castro withdrew from the 2020 race on January 2, 2020.


  • Castro said conditioning aid to Israel “wouldn’t be my first move” but he would not take it “off the table.” He argued the United States has a “carrot-and-stick approach.” Castro expressed the hope that “we’re going to have a new [Israeli] government to work with our ally to ensure that there is not unilateral annexation and that we pursue a two-state solution.”

    Castro said he would re-establish a consulate in East Jerusalem that would serve as an embassy for Palestinians under a two-state solution and added, “I am glad to see in this Democratic Party that the voices of folks who are concerned about the rights of Palestinians has emerged recently stronger.” (J Street Conference, October 28, 2019)

  • Asked if he would move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv, Castro did not respond. (Axios, July 14, 2019)
  • Responding to Netanyahu statement during the Israeli election campaign that he would annex the West Bank, Castro said: “In abandoning our position as a good faith partner in the Middle East peace process, the Trump admin has enabled reckless actions like this from Netanyahu,” Castro tweeted. “US support for a two-state solution is on the line in November 2020.”

    “In abandoning our position as a good faith partner in the Middle East peace process, the Trump admin has enabled reckless actions like this from Netanyahu. US support for a two-state solution is on the line in November 2020.” (Jerusalem Post, April 9, 2019)


  • Regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in October 2019: “He has made a tremendous mistake, a total disaster there in Syria. And just to connect the dots for a second, if you’re Kim Jong-un, for instance, why in the world would you believe anything that this president says to contain your nuclear weapons program, when he tore up an Iran nuclear agreement that we just signed four years ago, which was the strongest agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and now he’s abandoned the very people that we gave our word to?

    I would make sure that we work with our allies to pressure Syria to stop the aggression, and I support efforts at stronger sanctions than this president has announced.” (Washington Post, October 16, 2019)

  • Castro said he would return to the Iran nuclear deal if elected. (Haaretz, April 23, 2019)

*AICE does not rate or endorse any candidate for political office.

Sources: “Julian Castro,” Wikipedia;
Sydney Ember, “Julián Castro Needs a Defining Moment. It Hasn’t Come Yet,” New York Times, (April 17, 2019);
Julián Castro for President;
“Julián Castro joins democratic hopefuls in bashing Netanyahu,” Jerusalem Post, (April 9, 2019);
Amir Tibon and Amos Harel, “2020 Democrats Promise to Re-enter the Iran Deal: Israel Is Concerned,” Haaretz, (April 23, 2019);
Alayna Treene and Barak Ravid, “Top 2020 Dems wouldn’t reverse Trump’s Jerusalem embassy decision,” Axios, (July 14, 2019);
“The October Democratic debate transcript,” Washington Post, (October 16, 2019).