Will A Reliable Pro-Israel Congressional Seat Flip?

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

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.

New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald

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

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

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

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 saidI 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

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

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.

Related First One Through articles:

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Will the 2020 Democratic Platform Trash Israel?

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A Basic Lesson of How to be Supportive

There is a famous restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina called Hyman’s Seafood. Its menu is replete with non-kosher goodies like shrimp, crabs and calamari. The locals love the family run business – now in its fifth generation of management – as do the various celebrities and tourists who often must wait outside in line for up to an hour to enjoy the food and ambiance.

The warmth of the restaurant is very much part of the appeal. In addition to the many autographed pictures of movie stars that adorn the walls, are small cards sprinkled around the two-story building with sayings and words of advice. They include funny and off-color comments about relationships as well as more thoughtful sayings from important people such as Rabbi Israel Salanter. Yes, that’s a rabbi card in a traif restaurant.

The peculiarity keeps going. The storefront has mezuzahs on each door. There is even an option to have kosher food brought in from the local Chabad!

You see, the owners of Hyman’s are all about attitude. They envision a world that is inclusive, positive and happy. Their formula for creating that world includes spreading those messages throughout the store, and they live that credo by finding a way to enable every person to eat in their restaurant – even those that cannot eat their food because of dietary restrictions.

Pretty incredible.

Not surprisingly, the owners run their business in the same fashion. They have a sign on one of the walls that reads: “If you like us, tell others. If not, tell us!

It’s so simple and basic. Spread positive messages to everyone you can. Encourage others to frequent the establishment. Boost the store’s image and popularity.

However, if there are issues that bother you, don’t tell others about the perceived problems, but bring them up to management. Be constructive and the owners will make the effort to address the matter to the extent that they can. Don’t write letters to newspapers or get on social media with the bad news, as those actions would be detrimental to the business.

It is a simple concept that too many liberal self-declared “pro-Israel” groups and people fail to comprehend.

J Street and New Israel Fund

J Street’s tagline is that they are “pro-Israel,” even though it actively undermines Israel on the global stage. The group lobbied the Obama Administration to censure Israel at the United Nations and declare Jews living in the eastern part of the promised land to be illegal! How can such a group possibly be considered pro-Israel? Would someone who likes Hyman’s Seafood report them to the Department of Health? Trash them on Yelp?

The New Israel Fund supports Breaking the Silence which does media tours undermining the Israeli Defense Forces. How is that being constructive in working with the Israeli government itself to find ways to improve?

It’s not, and it’s not appreciated by the Israeli government.

Liberal “Balance”

Supporters of J Street and the New Israel Fund like Rabbi Sharon Brous believe that they truly love Israel and are simply trying to understand all sides of the situation with Palestinian Arabs. Brous penned a letter in the Los Angeles Times on August 26, 2018 about her taking her daughter to Hebron in an effort to show her “the other side,” which included “the harshest effects of the occupation.” Her letter described how difficult life was for the 200,000 Palestinian Arabs because some Jews wanted to reestablish the Jewish community there. She relayed how extreme and racist these Jews were.

Did she show a real balance to her daughter? Did she speak to the 93% of Palestinian Arabs that are antisemites? Did she tell her daughter that when the city was under Muslim control Jews were forbidden from even climbing the steps of the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs, let alone pray there? Did she educate her daughter that the Palestinian Authority has a law that calls for the death penalty for any Arab selling a home to Jews? That its president has demanded a Jew-free country?

Brous didn’t really show her daughter a complete or honest story. And that is her business to educate her daughter in a manner she desires.

However, her daughter wasn’t her real audience. The daughter was merely a tool for her to write to the whole world. Brous published her opinion piece marketed as a story in the widely read LA Times to publicly vilify Israel, written in a smug fashion of being an honest educator and parent.

The readers of paper understood the message: lovers of Israel think the country is vile too.

If groups like J Street and NIF, and public Jewish leaders like Brous want to be included in the pro-Israel community, they must learn a simple lesson from Hyman’s Seafood: if you have an issue, bring it up with directly with the party in charge. In public, sing the praises loudly to all.

Today’s self-declared “pro-Israel” alt-left groups and rabbis are harmful to Israel. Until these groups and individuals make major fundamental changes, they should be excluded from any pro-Israel forums, including schools, synagogues and umbrella Zionist organizations.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Denying Entry and Citizenship

The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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