American Jews are facing what has been presented a choice between one of two evils: political leaders on the left (Democrats) and political leaders on the right (Republicans). However, I urge us to strongly consider that there are always more than two choices. In its current state, the United States Congress is pandering to extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.
On the left, Democrats are turning towards illiberalism, embracing individuals and groups that traditionally and currently espouse ideals in direct conflict with progressive values. Rashida Tlaib flip-flopped on embracing a two-state solution in order to gain an endorsement from J Street, now claiming to be for a one-state solution. Tlaib attempted to present herself as a progressively moderate leader, looking for a peaceful resolution to issues related to Israel and Palestinians. However, after “winning” her seat in the House, her true colors have been exposed. She holds radical beliefs that will do nothing to solve the issue but lead to more conflict and pandering.
On the right, Republican Mo Brooks is a climate change denier. He went so far as to blame rising sea levels on rocks falling into the ocean and Republican Steve King embracing the title of nationalist, minimizing the negativity surrounding White nationalism and White supremacy.
Jewish Americans are being pandered to. The sooner we recognize it, the sooner we can break free of the tug-of-war being played out between the left and the right. Those on the right claim to be pro-Israel, hoping that we ignore their ties to neo-Nazis “good people on both sides” and radical Christianity (Mike Pence and the rapture). Those on the left are fighting a civil war between traditional Democrats who are pro-Israel (mostly due to Israel’s status as the only democracy in the region and its history of upholding civil rights for all of its citizens) and those on the extreme left who dog whistle with the best on the right, claiming that Israel is an apartheid state.
I, for one, am opting out of participating in their game. I am a registered Democrat, but first I am an American. I have no interest in participating in the “gang war” that is current right wing vs. left wing politics in the US. I will not support political leaders who deny my people’s right to self-determination, placing double-standards on my people, while excusing the bad behavior of those who threaten us. I also will not turn a blind eye to those who seek to undermine my rights of sovereignty over my body because of my gender and who choose to blame the criminal treatment of my people because of the color of our skin. I hope that as Jewish Americans we stand together as a nation of people, regardless of skin color and gender, and commit to do what Stacey Abrams spoke about in her response to the SOTU, choose our leaders instead of letting our leaders choose us.