Congresswoman Nita Lowey has served in the United States Congress for several decades. Representing New York’s 17th District covering Lower Westchester County and all of Rockland County, Lowey has been and consistent supporter of Israel since she entered Congress in 1989. Now, at age 82, she is retiring.
A long list of Democrats are lining up to compete for her seat. Almost all are quite to the left of Lowey politically, unabashedly “progressive” with the exception of David Carlucci. The candidates’ records and statements on Israel have been quite mixed as well. Below is a summary.
First, the Pro-Israel and Anti-antisemitism candidates: Buchwald and Carlucci
David Buchwald, 41, is the most aggressively pro-Israel candidate among the Democrats.
He fought actively against the Iran nuclear deal as it left Iran’s pathway to nuclear weapons intact. He co-sponsored the anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill in the New York State Assembly and notably supported President Trump’s declaration that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
Moreover, Buchwald has stated that U.S. military aid to Israel cannot be used “as a bargaining chip” to pressure Israel into making decisions which it feels undermines its security.
Justin Brasch, a member of White Plains City Council said that “David is by far the most pro-Israel candidate by every measure. He also is the most vocal against Iran due to their support of global terror and the terrorist group Hezbollah.”
Buchwald’s full position paper on Israel is here.
David Carlucci, 39, is a New York State Senator with an Italian father and Jewish mother. He is probably best known for working across the aisle with Republicans in New York State government for years, often making him an outsider with the current Democratic party pushing to the far left.
Carlucci has been active fighting antisemitism, including introducing the Social Media Hate Speech Accountability Act after Jews in Monsey (in Rockland County) were attacked during Channukah, and a bill that would categorize graffitiing as a hate crime if it targets a person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation. He was particularly appalled by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio calling out the Chasidic community during the pandemic.
Regarding Israel, he is in favor of a two-state solution. He co-sponsored the anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill in the New York State Senate and notably supported the decision to move Israel’s capital to Jerusalem. He was critical of a letter sent by Democratic leaders to President Trump opposing Israel applying Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria. Like Buchwald, he is against any conditioning of aid to Israel.
In regards to the Iranian deal, Carlucci’s campaign office sent me the following to clarify his position:
“I oppose re-entering the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015 for many reasons, including most concerning is that it did not stop Iran’s path to nuclear weapons, it did not address Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, it lacked inspections at military sites, it allowed Iran to continue its research into what could lead to the development of weapons of mass destruction, and it did not prohibit development of ballistic missiles. Now that we have been removed from the Iran deal, we must restart negotiations as soon as possible with the goal being that Iran never get control of nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. These new negotiations must have these parameters in place to guide a productive resolution.”
Meh-Israel candidates: Farkas, Fine, Jones and Schleifer.
Evelyn Farkas, 52, is supported by J Street, a far-left group that was in favor of sanctioning Israel at the United Nations, labeling Jewish Israelis living east of the Green Line as “illegal settlers,” and the Iranian nuclear deal which gave the leading state sponsor of terrorism which calls for the destruction of Israel, a legal pathway to nuclear weapons.
Farkas worked in the Obama administration’s Defense department and has been endorsed by former Secretary of State John Kerry and US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shaprio.
Not surprisingly, Farkas’s positions on Israel are similar to the Obama administration: in favor of a two state solution and at odds with various Trump initiatives in the region.
Allison Fine, 55, is also supported by J Street. She is far more left-wing than Farkas, having served as past chair of NARAL, a pro-abortion organization and also less sophisticated about international relations.
Fine views everything through a feminist lens, stating about her run for Lowey’s seat, “this is a woman’s seat and I think it should stay a woman’s seat.” Speaking in defense of the four progressive members of “the squad” who have been critical about Israel, she said “I think we need to support women once they are in office because the level of harassment that elected women receive is far larger than what men receive.”
She has been happy to visit Israel several times and her website states “We must stand with the State of Israel and ensure both economic assistance and political support are never in question.”
Mondaire Jones, 33, is even more alt-left than Allison Fine, endorsed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and others on the extreme fringe. Not surprisingly, he is also supported by J Street.
Jones viewed Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal as “great” and was strongly opposed to Trump’s withdrawal.
While his website states nothing about Israel, he worked with the Jewish Insider to post his position about the Jewish State. In it he states “I strongly oppose the building and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.” He opposed Trump’s recognition of Israel’s capital in Jerusalem and believes the city should be divided by Israel and the Palestinians. He does, however, recognize that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
Adam Schleifer, 38, has a background in law as a former US assistant attorney in California and NY State Consumer Protection Regulator. He is most famous for his parents – Leonard, who is the CEO of Regeneron, the Tarrytown-headquartered pharmaceutical giant and Harriet, President of the American Jewish Committee.
Schleifer doesn’t have much to say about Israel other than he disagrees with President Trump’s “style” and doesn’t believe it will create an enduring peace.
He is vocal about combating antisemitism, placing it in the number 7-of-12 slot on his policy goals.
For those people who want to see Nita Lowey’s seat remain in pro-Israel hands, there are really only two choices: David Buchwald and David Carlucci. Democratic primary date is June 23.
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