The race to represent New York’s newly redrawn 16th district – now one of the most Jewish congressional districts in the United States – has had a number of inconsistencies and consistencies this election cycle. The common refrain from lower Westchester was a strong dislike for far-left wing “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman to represent the district. What remained unclear, was whether the community would rally behind a single candidate to defeat Bowman, or split the vote to enable Bowman to coast to victory.
For the past two months, members of the Jewish community divided their support between Vedat Gashi and Catherine Parker. Gashi, who entered the race early, received a significant amount of support from everyone. When the district lines were redrawn in May, Parker entered the race and gathered support from local constituents and people who wanted to see a woman take the congressional seat, much as Nita Lowey had for decades.
Critical to the Orthodox community’s decision was the significant endorsements Gashi has – and continues – to accumulate, including from Mike Spano, the mayor of Yonkers, the largest city in the district and home to a significant base of Bowman support. Spano and Tom Meier, Chair of the Yonkers Democratic Committee will be hosting an event for Gashi on August 16.
Other endorsements this week came from former Rep. Nita Lowey on August 3rd as well as former Rep. Eliot Engel, whom Bowman defeated two years ago. Members of the Orthodox community in White Plains decided to back Gashi on August 2nd, and from New Rochelle on August 4th. The Orthodox community from Scarsdale has been behind Gashi from the start, supporting his moderate, common sense approach to legislation and support for Israel.
Other reasons for picking Gashi include his solid organizational infrastructure set up for the final weeks of the race, with several more months and significantly more money to campaign than Parker, who entered only recently.
It’s never easy to defeat an incumbent, even one with a horrible track record like Bowman. Yet there is a path.
It remains to be seen if the broader Jewish community will get behind Gashi the way the Orthodox community joined in common cause this week. If they do, it might encourage Parker to drop from the race, thereby winning support from the community for her to pursue another political run in the future, and pave a clearer path to defeat a member of the far-left “Squad” on August 23rd.
New York State redrew its district lines for congress late in May because of the 2020 census, causing a delay in the congressional primaries in the state. Many people are unaware of the ramifications of this action.
Surprise! You’re in NY-16, not NY-17
The first surprise is that people in lower Westchester are now in NY congressional district number 16, not 17. The new district lines run roughly from the border of New York City up to a few miles north of Interstate-287, and includes the Wakefield section of the Bronx.
New York’s 16th Congressional District has been redrawn as of May 20, 2022. It covers a small section of the Bronx and then all of lower Westchester County. Many residents used to be part of NY-17 and are unaware that their congressional district and representative has changed.
This district is roughly 42% White, 27% Hispanic and 21% Black, with a small percentage of Asians and others. The Black community is principally in the southern part of the district, closer to New York City.
Surprise! Rep. Jamaal Bowman is your congressman
Rep. Jamaal Bowman is the incumbent in NY-16 but much of the district is new for him. While he continues to have a base of support from his 2020 run, located in the Bronx, Yonkers and Mount Vernon, the northern portion of the new NY-16 was previously in NY-17 and represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones.
Because Bowman does not have a built-in base in the district which would normally benefit an incumbent, a couple of local politicians have entered the race to unseat him.
Surprise! Democratic primaries are on August 23rd with early voting beginning August 13
While many people in New York think they already voted in primaries several weeks ago, the congressional primary is on a separate date to afford the congressional candidates time to assemble a campaign. The date chosen for the primary is deep in the summer, when many people are on vacations and others are running off to university. Primary day is likely to have a very low voter turn-out, meaning that every vote counts that much more. People can change / register to vote in the primary by using this form by July 29.
Fight One – Bowman versus Others
Bowman’s policies are deeply unpopular in much of the district. His calls to ‘Defund the Police’, ‘Abolish I.C.E.’, Open Borders and teaching Critical Race Theory in schools are all echoes of his fellow far-left Squad comrades. Further, voting against the Infrastructure Bill – and then subsequently lying to his constituents that he voted for it – left a bad taste for many. His bad track record providing constituent services adds to his weak candidacy.
Catherine Parker is one of the Democrats challenging Bowman. She has been a member of the Westchester Board of Legislators since 2013, and has consistently voiced her disapproval with Bowman’s votes on numerous issues, such as the infrastructure bill, saying Bowman’s “protest vote spoke more of his unwillingness to accept compromise than actually accomplishing anything.”
Parker believes that her nine years of experience in Westchester not only give her a solid base of support and track record of serving her constituents, but are likely critical in ultimately working across the aisle in congress, as Democrats are likely to lose a large number of seats during November elections.
Vedat Gashi is also running in the Democratic primary to unseat Bowman, having jumped in many months ago. He was able to get a number of endorsements and raise a significant amount of funds as people in Westchester were eager to retire Bowman. Unfortunately, both he and his base have fallen outside of the final district lines, making his path to victory more complicated.
Fight Two – Parker versus Gashi
While much of Westchester despises the thought of being represented by a member of the Socialist Squad, the pro-Israel community is fighting amongst themselves regarding supporting the two contenders.
Bowman has a terrible track record on Israel. He co-sponsored legislation calling the founding of Israel a ‘Nakba”, a catastrophe. He voted against supporting the Abraham Accords in which Israel made peace with four new countries. He voted against supplying Israel with weapons amidst a wave of attacks from a foreign designated terrorist group. And he has almost the identical voting record as two of the most alt-left anti-Semitic members of congress, Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
In sharp contrast, both Gashi and Parker have made statements which are pro-Israel and against anti-Semitism. Parker said clearly that she would take money from AIPAC, as her views on Israel are in line with the pro-Israel organization.
Gashi supporters point to his endorsements and more money raised than Parker as demonstrating a higher probability of winning. Parker’s supporters note that Gashi’s advantages are principally because he’s been in the race twice as long as Parker but she is catching up. With an established base in the district and more women traditionally voting in primaries, Parker may have the better path to defeating Bowman.
But it is all beside the point. The only likely path to defeating Bowman would require one of the two to drop out, making it a head-to-head race. Supporters of Gashi are lobbying Parker to drop out and Parker supporters are urging the same of Gashi. While everyone seems to like both candidates, they are simultaneously angry at both for effectively paving a pathway for Bowman’s victory.
Neither Gashi nor Parker will likely drop out. They will both ask their supporters for funds in a cause they know is doomed, as each candidate benefits from enhanced name recognition and the ability to bank the extra funds for another race in the future. Bowman will win a district that hates him.
Another result is that the Jewish community will turn on itself, pointing fingers at supporters of the opposing candidate for not getting their candidate to back down. They will scream at AIPAC and DMFI (Democratic Majority For Israel) for not stepping forward to endorse one of the candidates to galvanize support for a shot at the difficult road to victory, since the groups don’t want to offend potential wealthy donors from Westchester to their PACs.
What is NOT likely, but should, happen is a focused game plan for 2024. The community needs to build alliances with moderate Democratic politicians who will be willing to run against Bowman in the next cycle. Community leaders need to assemble a NY16PAC which will rally behind a single candidate next time. The process cannot be fought in the last months of the race, but over the next two years.
Members of the community should also keep Bowman’s email and office numbers – (202) 225-2464 and (914) 371-9220 – handy to constantly inform him of their views on important topics. People in Congress must know that people are watching and are holding them accountable.
There will probably be no surprises in two years, and hopefully only a single fight to defeat the alt-left extremist who is poised to become your voice in congress.
As society moves from a Bell to a Barbell Curve, with politics becoming dominated by the extremes rather than the center, it is important for all people over 18 years old to register to vote. Once upon a time, when the country was led by moderates, people could afford to stay home as the difference between a center-right or center-left candidate was pretty modest.
In deep red and deep blue districts, extremists backed by the likes of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are being elected to the office. They secure their positions in the PRIMARIES when many people don’t come out to vote, thinking that elections principally happen in November.
In New York State this year, primaries are happening on August 23, 2022, with early voting beginning on August 13. This second primary (one for statewide positions happened several weeks ago) is because of the late redistricting in the state. New district boundaries brought various politicians in and out of their historic zones, forcing a delay in the vote.
An example of the extremists in New York State can be found in NY-16, now headed by Rep. Jamaal Bowman who came to power with the backing of the DSA. His newly redrawn district covers southern Westchester County.
Catherine Parker, a resident of Rye, NY, is running for Congress in New York’s newly redrawn 16th district, one of the most Jewish districts in the country. She has much to say about the district’s current representative, Jamaal Bowman, and it’s and not pretty.
Parker agreed to be interviewed about issues of concern to the Jewish community, as she gets her message out to her constituents.
On Israel and United Nations
Among the three people running for the seat in the Democratic primary, Parker is the only one who put Israel on her website as part of her agenda. Her website specifies:
“Israel is an important ally to the United States, and in Washington, Catherine will be a steadfast ally of the Middle East’s only democracy. Unlike her opponent who has consistently opposed U.S. policy supportive of Israel, Catherine would have voted in support of Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its citizens and she would have voted for funding of the Iron Dome.
“Catherine opposes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to end international support for Israel. She believes wholeheartedly in a two state solution. When it comes to a deal with Iran regarding nuclear – a new Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – we need to see that it will be more protective and longer, stronger and broader than what was negotiated by President Obama in 2015. And unlike her opponent, Catherine supports strengthening the Abraham Accords and would have voted in support for the Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021.“
These very supportive statements about the Jewish State served as a basis for our conversation.
On BDS, Parker said that it’s “just a version of anti-Semitism.” She believes that it should have no standing or support in our government.
She said that aid to Israel should not be conditional, much as President Biden has stated. She offered that Israel’s security has enhanced America’s security, and with “Israel being attacked all the time from terrorist groups like Hamas, it [Israel] deserves our support.”
Parker added that she supported the Taylor Force Act which limited funds to the Palestinian Authority as long as it pays the families of terrorists. “If the PA is going to be paying stipends to terrorists, then as a country, we shouldn’t be providing economic aid [to the PA].”
Parker added that she doesn’t think that the United Nations is fair in regards to Israel. In particular, she pointed to the UN Human Rights Council which continues to target Israel, a theme the State Department discussed a few weeks ago. She had no comment about the unique perpetual agency devoted to the descendants of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, and said she would look into it.
Parker has never been to Israel but aligns herself with the Jewish State. While she has no position on Israelis living east of the Green Line in “settlements,” she is eager to visit the country and to learn more.
Iran’s Nuclear Program
Parker called the Islamic Republic of Iran “bad actors.” She was disappointed that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s attempt at diplomacy had seemingly broken down, and said she is “open to listening” to alternatives to deal with the menace, including military action.
Parker supports the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. She discussed her family’s long connection to former Rep. Nita Lowey and supports having Holocaust education in every school in the country. Parker views this as important to combat anti-Semitism and to benefit all of society.
Why She’s Running: Bowman
Parker went through a lengthy list of reasons why she’s running for Congress and it centers around Rep. Jamaal Bowman.
She said that she believes that Bowman’s advocacy for “Defund the Police is absolutely ridiculous.” The country has “many wonderful people serving us” and the key to combating some rogue officers is to have “implicit bias training” for active police officers.
Parker thinks that Bowman has made terrible policy decisions for the lower Westchester district and for the country, including voting against the infrastructure bill, against aid to Ukraine, and against supporting Israel.
She contrasted her style with Bowman who has a terrible working relationship with fellow Democrats in Westchester (writer’s note: I have repeatedly heard the same criticism). Parker commented about how she strives for bipartisanship in her dealings with Republicans and Democrats in passing laws that benefit the community, and wants to bring that kind of care to Washington, DC. She pondered that Bowman seems to be driven by personal motivation or his ties to the socialist fringe of the party, and clearly not to his constituents.
Catherine Parker is a seasoned local politician who is learning about the larger national and international issues that concern her Westchester constituents, including Jews. Her instincts seem good and she avoided wading into unfamiliar topics until learning more. I would not be surprised to see her win endorsements for her positions on anti-Semitism and Israel from a variety of groups including Democratic Majority For Israel (DMFI) which normally doesn’t fight incumbents, AIPAC, America’s Pro-Israel lobby, as well as other pro-Israel Democrats like Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15), just to the south of her district.
By way of comparison, Bowman is supported as part of the extremist “squad” endorsed by the Sunrise Movement and the Working Families Party, which also support Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush, all of whom have cast votes and made comments deeply hurtful to the Jewish community. Consider that the DC Chapter of the Sunrise Movement actually banned progressive Jewish groups from an event, including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA). Even far left groups like Americans for Peace Now were appalled at the Sunrise Movement’s action, as the president and CEO said “This is boycotting groups because they are Jewish and state a general … support of Israel,” even though it’s not a core component of their mission, making the action blatantly anti-Semitic.
The differences between Bowman and Parker are dramatic.
The Democratic primary will be held on August 23rd with early voting beginning on August 13.
New York’s 16th Congressional district has been reshaped by the latest census, and now includes more of Westchester than it had earlier, and drops sections of the Bronx which are now in NY-15 held by Rep. Ritchie Torres. The current congressman for NY-16 is Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who is facing a number of challengers in the Democratic primaries to be held on August 23rd (early voting begins August 13).
According to the non-partisan website fivethirtyeight, the newly redrawn NY-16 leans heavily towards the Democratic Party, voting for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election by a margin of +40. That means that the Democratic primary is truly the election for this congressional seat.
One of the Democratic contenders, Vedat Gashi, spoke with me about issues of particular concern to the Jewish community.
Gashi describes himself as a “common sense” Democrat who has nothing in common with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) which has backed Bowman. Gashi grew up in Kosovo and came to the United States at age four. He later returned to Kosovo as an adult to work for the United Nations as the country gained its independence in the dissolution of Yugoslavia. His memories of Israel’s involvement with Kosovo – even before it became independent – left a positive mark on him.
Gashi is appreciative of the Jewish community as well. As a secular Muslim, he said he was appalled at President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” which would have restricted people like him from coming to the US (writer’s note: Trump did not ban all Muslims, but people from seven Muslim-majority countries, which did not include Kosovo). When Gashi went to JFK Airport to protest the ban, the first people he saw protesting were Jewish groups. These incidents gave Gashi a sense of warmth toward the Jewish community.
A full background of Gashi’s background can be found on his website. Unfortunately, there is little else on the site, such as his positions on important issues.
Gashi is instinctively pro-Israel but not very well versed on specific topics.
As it relates to Bowman’s vote against supporting the Abraham Accords in April 2021, Gashi said he was “disappointed” in Bowman’s vote because the Accords clearly advanced US’s foreign policy interests. He assumed that Bowman did so because of pressure from the DSA, and Gashi used that point to highlight that he would not abide by any party orthodoxy but consider each issue as it impacted the people in his district. He added that the DSA’s comments which blamed American and NATO policies for causing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as indicative of the far-left group’s “tenuous grasp of reality.”
Gashi said that the people behind the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) of Israel are anti-Semitic. He believes that people who call Israel an “apartheid state”, such as Bowman’s senior policy advisor Rajiv Sicora, “don’t want Israel to even exist”. In contrast, Gashi believes that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and is a strong American ally.
Bowman is tied to other DSA-backed politicians like Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), as he votes alongside them 98% of the time. Gashi thinks that Tlaib and Omar have made many anti-Semitic comments, such as Tlaib’s screed that Jews and Zionists profit from racism “from Gaza to Detroit,” and Omar’s comments about Jews buying control of Congress and hypnotizing the world. He finds their comments “deeply racist” and offensive.
Regarding Bowman co-sponsoring the May 2022 Tlaib-led legislation that called the founding of Israel a ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe), Gashi said that sponsors of such legislation do not believe Israel has the right to exist. He said he arrived at such a conclusion from being informed about how Serbs treated Kosovo. Serbs believed Kosovo to be “nothing more than a parking lot,” an empty vessel without meaning or ownership, much the way some anti-Israel people continue to look at the Jewish State today. He noted that the founding of many countries included wars and displacements but that doesn’t mean the new country shouldn’t exist.
Gashi did not have a strong opinion about “settlements.” He noted that he saw some when he visited friends in Israel several years ago, with many being fully established towns which are a far cry from what the name implies, which is a couple of shacks. He offered no opinion about whether they are legal or whether UN Resolution 2334 was appropriate.
As it relates to a number of other regional issues such as the Taylor Force Act and the Palestinian Authority’s desire for a consulate in Jerusalem, Gashi knew little about the topics.
United Nations / Iran
Gashi worked for the United Nations in Kosovo for a number of years and believes that the organization is an “unwieldy animal” with many difficult actors like Russia, however, Gashi believes that there is opportunity for the United Nations to be a positive force. During our interview, Gashi noted he was not familiar with the many resolutions and committees within the United Nations that attack the Jewish State but seemed interested to learn more.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear deal, Gashi said that “Iran achieving nuclear capacity would be a terrible outcome and needs to be opposed every which way we can, if not diplomatically, then by other means”. He added that “it is an existential problem”.
Anti-Semitism / Religion
Gashi was not familiar with the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism but stressed that “words are important.” Drawing on his experience in Kosovo, he shared that politicians were reluctant to use the term “genocide” because it would compel certain actions, even though avoiding its usage “led to more ethnic cleansing” in his home country. He did not know why President Biden agreed to the IHRA definition and then refused to enact it for Title VI to protect Jewish and Zionist students on campuses, until December 2022, which is after mid-term elections.
Gashi was also unfamiliar with Senator Diane Feinstein grilling of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett saying “the dogma lives loudly within you and that’s of concern,” as it related to ACB’s Catholic beliefs, suggesting it would possibly disqualify her for office. He said that “all manners of good and bad deeds have been attributed to religiosity. Religiosity in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. Faith, in general, is a good thing.” He did say that Feinstein’s comment was inappropriate.
Schools / Police
Gashi would not engage in a discussion about charter schools or monies for parochial schools. He seemed more concerned about upsetting teacher unions and keeping funding inside of the public school system. Whether he would tackle the issue of prioritizing educating children rather than winning support of powerful unions remains to be seen, as he would not voice an opinion going into a Democratic primary where he is competing against a radical socialist who was formerly a teacher.
Gashi did come after Bowman about his stance to “Defund the Police.” He felt that Bowman’s endorsement of the socialist platform was dangerous for the district and country. He added that Bowman continues to lie about his comments and vote on the manner, much as Bowman clearly lied to his constituents about supporting the infrastructure bill when he voted against it.
Gashi presents as a left-leaning politician, yet far to the right and much more honest than Bowman. He is not well-versed in various issues of concern to the Jewish people in his district but seems eager to learn and approach the issues thoughtfully.
The Democratic Party has tried to become a “big tent” that welcomes all types of views into its ranks. As it has done so, it has given extremists positions of power and influence.
In February, New York State completed its redistricting. As part of the hustle-shuffle, the Democratic Party moved the pro-Israel community of Riverdale out of Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s district and into the progressive pro-Israel district of Rep. Ritchie Torres. In doing so, it helped boost support of Torres and keep Bowman from possibly losing his seat.
It also enabled Bowman to lean into the anti-Israel bile of his comrades in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
Another member of the DSA extremist group who is elevated by the Democratic Party is Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). The notorious anti-Semite will be given the microphone to deliver a speech after President Biden – a fellow Democrat – delivers his state of the union address. The only other time that a member of a party gave a reply to the SOTU by a fellow party member was last year when Bowman did it.
The Democratic Party has similarly shielded Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), despite her repeatedly using anti-Semitic tropes. Rather than rebuke her, they condemned those who pointed out the obvious as ‘Islamophobes,’ and continued to let her sit on important committees.
The Democrats can continue to shout about former President Trump all day, but they should get crushed in the next elections if they continue to give platforms to radical politicians who proudly shout anti-Semitic venom and extremist policies.
Freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) is having a very difficult time balancing a line between his moderate district and the alt-left Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) which supported him in infiltrating the Democratic Party. His gut instinct seems to be to duck and deceive.
While fellow Democrat President Biden was able to assemble a bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and pass it with ease, Bowman opted to vote against the president and much of his party and bonded instead with with the Socialist pack of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. His constituents in lower Westchester were furious. Even local politicians who would normally avoid chastising a fellow party member in public, did so including:
Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye) who said she felt the “protest vote spoke more of his unwillingness to accept compromise than actually accomplishing anything.”
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner who said “if he got his way, we would’ve gotten nothing.“
County Legislator Tyrae Woodson-Samuels (D- Mount Vernon) said “I’m just worried what type of message this sends to regular, hardworking families, to our businesses and to our communities.“
Westchester activist Amy Siskind said she was “deeply disappointed” in Bowman’s vote.
To manage the public anger, Bowman decided to lie about his vote and sent out an email blast to his district that misrepresented his vote on the bill.
As seen in the section marked in red above, Bowman said he supported the “framework” of the infrastructure bill. Someone not aware of the nuances of political chicanery would naturally assume the Bowman voted in favor of the bill when he did not. Bowman did not write anywhere that he voted against the bill, and instead added language about his support for infrastructure to deliberately deceive the people he serves.
It will be interesting to see how Bowman opts to communicate his trip to Israel in November. He snubbed a bipartisan bicameral trip with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and opted to go to Israel with J Street, a left-wing group, in an insult to both Coons and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who took two distinct meetings on the same day with American politicians. He then insulted Israelis by tweeting an inversion of truth in Hebron even while the DSA seeks to expel him as a member since he visited Israel in the first place.
Bowman is being attacked by both his far left comrades and the significant center for his actions. His lying to everyone will not cover up his extremism but lay bare his being an inappropriate choice to serve his constituents.
Away from Twitterland and the evening news, where some politicians like Ritchie Torres (D-NY) have been vociferously pro-Israel, some politicians have quietly been nice enough to reply to my emails and share their thoughts about the latest fight between Israel and HAMAS. To not be accused of bias or taking people out of context, I have included their full remarks below.
But to summarize:
Both New York State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gilligrand did not respond to numerous emails. Neither did Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) who took over Eliot Engel’s seat. Quite a disgrace.
Two Republican congressmen – Mark Green (TN) and August Pfluger (TX) – were not only nice enough to respond (I am from NY) but wrote some wonderful pro-Israel statements.
Progressive Congressman Mondaire Jones (NY) broke with many alt-left wing colleagues and supported Israel.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) was pathetic. He equivocated about Israel’s defense before a terrorist organization.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) offered nothing but a canned short statement.
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) just offered her letter which she penned with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) but it was thoughtfully pro-Israel.
Congressman Mark Green (R-TN)
Thank you for contacting me about U.S. support for the State of Israel. It is an honor to represent the people of Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn your thoughts on this issue.
From my three deployments to the Middle East with the U.S. Army, I know that Israel is a stabilizing force and our most reliable ally in the region. Israel is one of the only nations in the region genuinely committed to a democratic system of government and the protection of individual freedom. Our two nations have shared an enduring bond since the United States was the first to recognize the State of Israel in 1948, and we find common cause today in our fight against terrorist groups and the aggression of the Iranian regime that supports such movements.
I was proud to stand with President Trump in defense of our ally Israel, especially with regard to his Administration’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I also strongly oppose the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to shame and isolate America’s strongest ally in the Middle East. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will continue to reaffirm American support for Israel as it seeks to defend its security and sovereignty.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Your comments and opinions are a vital source of information to assist me in carrying out my duties as your representative in Congress. Please visit my website at markgreen.house.gov, where you can sign up for my newsletter updates and learn more about my work in Congress on your behalf.
Congressman August Pfluger (R-TX)
It was a tragic week for the Jewish community around the world. Though a ceasefire was declared between Israel and Palestine, the resulting civilian casualties and the destruction of sacred land is heartbreaking. It has never been more important to stand in solidarity with Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East and the only democracy in the region. Israel is a beacon of freedom in the Arab world – we must defend our important ally. I am horrified to see Anti-Semitic violence breaking out in our country in the wake of the conflict, as Jewish Americans are being assaulted, terrorized, and threatened in cities across the U.S. These attacks are reprehensible and evil. Targeting a religious group is antithetical to who we are and what we stand for as a free nation. I am calling on all of my colleagues in Congress to stand up and condemn anti-Semitism and all forms prejudice.
Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY)
Like you, I am heartbroken by the toll inflicted on innocent civilians by this ongoing conflict. I am deeply committed to the strong relationship between Israel and the United States, and believe we must pursue a permanent, diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis that addresses the underlying, decades-long conflict. I urge both parties to take steps that move both sides closer to a permanent two-state solution that preserves the self-determination and dignity of both peoples.
I have strongly condemned the rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli cities, and my heart goes out to those under fire. Such attacks only deepen the ongoing suffering of both Israeli citizens and Palestinians living in Gaza. Thankfully, on May 20, Israel announced a mutual ceasefire after 11 days of the worst violence the region had seen in years.
I am committed to finding a just and peaceful resolution of this longstanding conflict, and I believe the United States will play a critical role in achieving this goal. I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee expressing support for the full funding of $3.8 billion in security assistance to Israel as authorized in the 2016 US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding. Reducing or conditioning assistance to Israel, which President Biden has dismissed, would adversely impact U.S. security priorities in the Middle East and undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself from threats in the region. As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel is a vital ally for the United States. I look forward to working with my colleagues to maintain our strong, special relationship with the state of Israel.
Thank you again for sharing your perspective with me. If you or your family need assistance with federal agencies or in response to COVID-19, please call my office at (914) 323-5550 or visit jones.house.gov to learn more about the resources and services available to you. To follow my work in Washington, I urge you to sign-up for my e-newsletter, and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Senator Dick Durbin(D-IL)
Thank you for contacting me about the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concern over the recent level of violence.
On May 21, Israel and Hamas entered into a cease fire agreement after more than ten days of the highest level of violence in years. The violence between the Israeli and Palestinian people is the culmination of decades of neglect and lack of political will to find a lasting peace that provides an independent state for the Palestinians and lasting security for the Israelis.
For too long, efforts to win short-term political gains have come at the expense of a desperately needed solution. I fear further neglect of this issue, combined with a failure to address militarized Hamas and continued Israeli settlement expansion, will doom any chance for an enduring two-state solution.
Earlier this year, I wrote to Secretary Anthony Blinken in support of renewed US involvement in the peace process. I know he and President Biden understand the importance of finally addressing these critical needs for our Israeli and Palestinian friends whose children deserve to grow up in peace.
I will continue to monitor any developments on this issue and keep your thoughts in mind should Congress address this matter.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, on Thursday released the following statement on the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas:
“I’m relieved by reports that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire, and I commend President Biden and Secretary Blinken for the role they played in bringing a halt to the violence. However, I am deeply concerned that without meaningful progress towards a two-state future, the conditions of despair will deepen, further fuel extremism and lead to a tragic renewal of the cycle of violence,” said Murphy.
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)
President Joe Biden has made his intentions to return to the failed foreign policies of the past very clear. This includes the Biden administration’s intent for the United States to “re-engage immediately and robustly” with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) without receiving any commitments for much needed institutional reforms. The U.N. General Assembly created the UNHRC in 2006 to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights globally and address the most pressing human rights crises. Since then, the very essence of the UNHRC has been corrupt, with some of the world’s worst human rights violators as sitting members, including China, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba. Both of our families know firsthand the human cost associated with repressive regimes. Our families had their beloved homeland taken over by brutal communists, and their experiences shaped our lives and gave us a special appreciation for the freedoms and values we have as Americans. It also gave us the understanding that America has to stand in support of human rights across the globe. More than 60 years later, the basic rights of the Cuban people remain nonexistent. Shamefully, Cuba is a current member of the UNHCR, where they are given a platform to speak on human rights. This is an absolute slap in the face to the Cuban people. Similarly disturbing is Venezuela’s current membership on the council. Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro made an address at the opening of the council’s 46th regular session this year. This is an insult to the millions of Venezuelans who are suffering, including the approximately five million refugees and migrants who have been forced to flee due to the humanitarian catastrophe brought on by Maduro’s corrupt narco-regime. In a matter of years, Maduro transformed Venezuela from one of the wealthiest countries in South America into an economic catastrophe, where Venezuelans cannot access basic essentials. The illegitimate regime has killed and tortured dissidents, independent reporters, university students and civilians. This is the same regime that was found to have committed crimes against humanity by the U.N. Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela. Current members on the council also include Russia, where Vladimir Putin and his cronies target dissidents, invade neighboring countries, and are working to stamp out independent media from the country. And the most egregious of all might be a sitting member that is actively committing genocide. One of UNHRC’s longest-serving members, China, under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is currently waging a brutal campaign of crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghur Muslims. Their crimes include forced abortions and sterilization, forced labor, and detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslims in camps. The Council has also made no effort to mask its contempt for the Jewish state of Israel. The obsession and hostility toward Israel has led to a permanent agenda item – number 7 – focused on condemning Israel. No other country is subject to such perpetual harassment. Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East that respects human rights and the rule of law. Yet, over half of UNHCR resolutions target Israel. The Human Rights Council is a broken institution. Any country that egregiously violates the basic rights of its citizens should not have a role on an international body tasked with ending human rights abuses. It is a mockery to human rights everywhere and the United States should not participate unless real reforms are met. America’s presence on the council, alongside these nations, only legitimizes the hypocritical abuses that have plagued this body for years. For the sake of those suffering under repressive regimes, President Biden must make the right choice and stand for human rights. The Biden administration should not follow in the footsteps of the Obama administration and so-called experts who prioritized meaningless “engagement” over impact. Biden proudly proclaimed “America is back,” but America should not go “back” to international organizations that undermine our interests and human rights globally. The bottom line is this: returning to the UNHRC would require a dramatic overhaul of this corrupt body to implement its founding mission. Oppressed peoples around the world are watching in the hopes that America will stand with them and against their oppressors. Do what is right, Mr. President.