In the last four years, the Jewish community has seen a rise in antisemitism, an unprecedented rise in incompetency within government ranks and a blatant disregard for decency. In response, at the height of the Presidential election, I started a political action committee, Jewish Unity, with the mission to ensure our Jewish values, leadership, and policies were reflected in government. To advance our mission, the Jewish Unity team decided to work towards electing Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. Today, though, Jewish Unity PAC, the Jewish community and I have been caught in between a rock and a hard place.
I was alarmed when the video of Reverend Warnock suggesting the Israeli Defense Forces were shooting Palestinians like “birds of prey” was released. Warnock’s comments seemed like another example of a misinformed citizen (he was not running for Senate then), stating surface level analysis on a century old conflict. Jewish voters, including myself, expected the now Senate candidate to revise his position. Rev. Warnock delivered. He met with the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) and stated, “I am a staunch ally and supporter of Israel, and I echo without reservation Dr. King’s perspective that Israel’s right to exist is incontestable. That’ll be my work in the Senate. I support the two-state solution.” These comments were much more in line with the thinking of Jews across the nation I have spoken with as well as my own personal views.
On the other side of the ballot, Jewish Unity watched as Senator Loeffler repeatedly acted against the interests of the Jewish community. Loeffler openly took pictures with members of the KKK, endorsed candidates who spread the vehemently antisemitic QAnon conspiracy theory, and pigeon holed Jewish voters by suggesting members of the Jewish community cannot be both Zionists and for the Black Lives Matter movement. Furthermore, Senator Loeffler is a card carrying member of the anti-intellectualism crowd that continues to fight progress towards halting climate change and other vital issues to my generation’s future. Senator Loeffler’s actions are a contradiction to the morals I was raised on, as well as the values I learned from members of the Jewish community.
However in the past week another video surfaced. The video displayed Reverend Warnock comparing Bibi Netanyahu (the current Prime Minister of Israel) to George Wallace, the famous Segregationist Governor of South Carolina. This comment struck a chord with me due to my own experiences back in college. Student government at Ohio State often equated Judaism with Zionism, and Zionism with white supremacy. This is the same notion Warnock uses when comparing Netanyahu to Wallace. These viewpoints from both members of Ohio State’s student government, and Rev. Warnock lack nuance and isolate Jewish constituents, who like me continue to seek a seat at the table. These antisemitic positions continue to make Jews unbearably uncomfortable in student government and in more liberal circles of American politics despite our progressive leanings. The Jewish community continues to be told to assimilate to our politician’s ideals or be left out, which often forces Jews to choose between our identity and inclusion in the political world.
Rev. Warnock’s comments ignore the details of the centuries old conflicts and demonize Israel in a way the United States of America does not do with any other nation. These antisemitic comments are a painful dagger to the heart of the Jewish community who knows Israel as our ancestral homeland and the last line of defense against another Holocaust. I look at both Loeffler and Warnock, the respective nominees of both major American political parties, and once again my community has been painfully excluded. My beliefs that antisemitism knows no political party, and knows no specific identity other than indecency continue to be solidified.
So, “hineni”, here we are, the Jewish community, Jewish Unity PAC, and me, caught in between a rock and a hard place. Once again, the Jewish community will be forced to choose between our identity and our preferred political party.
Despite my grievances with Rev. Warnock, I know these races though are too big to fail. They represent a much larger battle, a battle nobody should sit out. Warnock versus Loeffler and Ossoff versus Perdue pit progress against anti-intellectualism and cult styled leadership. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue continuing in the Senate would be detrimental to Jewish Unity PAC’s goals to ensure Jewish values, leadership and policies within our government’s ranks.
This is not an easy decision for me. The pain the Jewish community feels from continuously being excluded is real and it is deep. Too often, antisemitism is ignored by both parties. Whether it is a political calculus or just sheer indecency, antisemitism is not held to the same standards as any other form of hatred/oppression. Our society does not cancel leaders who are antisemitic and the non-Jewish community rarely calls out antisemitism. When the non-Jewish community does call out antisemitism, it is an expectation the Jewish community will fall back in line and continue supporting these candidates. Today, I fell back in line because this race is too big to fail, but know this will not always be the case. Know I will continue advocating for progressive politics, and I will not stay silent on antisemitism and other forms of indecency.