Dear A O-C, El Paso is not Auschwitz

It is grey, again, on the UWS, the skies reflecting the mood of America as we approach another 4th of July. The tension with Iran, with all eyes on the Straits of Hormuz (again), is chilling as we watch and wonder which President Trump will be making decisions in the days ahead. Will the US strike Iran, as Bibi, Bolton and Pompeo are urging, guaranteeing a very violent summer for Israel as Iran’s proxies strike back at the US’s strongest ally? Those who understand the geopolitics of the Middle East are holding our breath, wondering if Bibi will get his way, again, with his dear friend, the immoral real estate developer tainting our American democracy with his demagoguery. Let us remember, this is the President who saw “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville.

Given the political climate in the United States in this final week of June, it is not surprising that the outspoken progressive Alexandria Orcasio-Ortez would look to Holocaust history to draw a parallel to make her point about the conditions found in the detention centers. Anyone following the story of how the Trump Administration has handled the separation of children from their parents at the southern border should be disturbed. The news media is doing an excellent job of covering the story, as social media and mass media merge to inform the American public of what is happening in these detention centers. Do I think what is going on there is just like what happened in Nazi Germany? Of course not. On the other hand, do I as a Jew feel compelled by both my People’s history and the words of my sacred text to raise my voice and demand that my government do better? Of course I do. Am I offended that a young lawmaker, who is the same age as my oldest daughter, looked to a bleak moment in the history of the world to help her provoke concern for a vulnerable population that is being mistreated? No, I am not.

However, it is crucial that Rep. Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez study the history of the Jewish People and the role of Zionism in the creation of the modern Jewish State of Israel. Her energy, her command of social media for political gain, her astute representation of her constituency and the media’s love affair with her (for all those reasons) suggest she will be part of the political landscape for years to come. Rather than put distance between A O-C and the American Jewish community, it would be wise for us to build bridges to this emerging political leader. In my humble opinion, whether the Jewish community likes it or not, she is a bright light in American politics. I would rather have her as a friend.

Maybe today will be the day I will reach out to my congressman Jerry Nadler to see if he could make the introduction. Only in America can this Jewish girl from Akron, Ohio find her way to the UWS where her representative is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, during these dark days of Trump. And in that circular manner who reflects a life well lived,  hopefully my representative will  connect me to the young woman who represents the Bronx, where my mother was born and raised, a proud graduate of Evander Childs High School in the late 1940’s, during a time when the horrors of the Holocaust were just being revealed. Knowing my mom, she too would agree that using Jewish history to make America better is nothing to fear but to celebrate. Especially as we approach yet another 4th of July.

About the Author
Francine M. Gordon is an artist/activist who maintains homes in New York and Cleveland. From November 2010 through November 2016, through The Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Project, she produced over 10 Concerts of Concern in the US and Israel. Since establishing her New York residence, Ms. Gordon has become a member of the New York Federation’s Israeli Judaism committee which focuses on exactly the same issues as SRSS. In addition, she has become a proud member of the Zamir Chorale which allows her to express her Zionism through song.
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