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Still waiting for the religious right on a few denunciations

We must not let the fraction of Jews wearing MAGA hats politicize the fight against anti-Semitism in 2020
Racist Iowa congressman Steve King speaks during a town hall meeting, in Primghar, Iowa. Jan. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Racist Iowa congressman Steve King speaks during a town hall meeting, in Primghar, Iowa. Jan. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Max Rose is a freshman congressman who flipped my district. NY-11 covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and is a seat previously occupied by Dan Donovan – whose greatest legislative achievement involved pictures of Trump hanging in post offices. Rose, a purple heart veteran and one of the first congressmen to denounce Ihan Omar for her controversial tweets this spring, campaigned on a promise of bipartisan work focusing on the district, and so far he has followed through.

By the 100th day mark, Rose had passed a piece of legislation fixing our north shore seawall. He led the charge to get the 9/11 victims fund fully funded, which has since passed through the house, organized a cleanup at Gateway National Park during the shutdown, and donated his salary to the coast guard during said shutdown. He is now organizing a push to stop the fentanyl flowing into his opioid-ravaged district through proposed penalties on its sources in China.

Why am I writing about this in the Times of Israel? Because my friends on the religious right – aided generously Max Rose’s Democratic colleagues in New York – are on the offensive against him. Which would be their prerogative, were they they not doing so in the name of Jewish advocacy. Example below from my favorite former New York State Assemblyman, and resident MAGA cheerleader, Dov Hikind.

A few things wrong with this one. The most important: it’s not true. Photo evidence below:

Probably realizing his mistake, Hikind has now reverted to a new message. Rose must do more tweets are now deployed daily. This line of attack is far more productive, and dangerous to the folks who appreciate a representative who, unlike Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Dov Hikind, isn’t spending their days thirsting for national media attention and instead of serving their respective districts.

By the standards of Hikind and the shrinking portion of Jews remaining on the right, Rose and every other Democrat remains accountable for every questionable comment coming from the far left (of which there is no shortage) which they don’t denounce. It’s smart, because alienating someone like AOC poses far greater risks to Democrats than Republicans, and Republicans will continue to exploit this dilemma faced by Rose and reps in other vulnerable districts. What I hope we will not see is an outnumbered but loud group of right wing Jews continuing to call cheap politics Jewish advocacy.

But if I’m wrong, and this isn’t about Dov helping plant a Trump-supporting representative in my district in 2020 irrespective of…my district, then I have a few questions. The most racist Republican in congress is arguably Steve King, and he had the chutzpah to open his mouth on a Jewish issue this week. Has Dov’s Republican choice for NY-11 spoken out? Has Dov demanded his resignation recently? (Like Rose he actually did speak out awhile ago…but not recently).Then there’s GOP rep Matt Gaetz. He invited a holocaust denier to the State of the Union. Haven’t seen many resignation demands recently, Dov. Can’t forget Kevin McCarthy – who accused Jews of trying to “buy” the midterms.” He’s still the minority leader. Where are the Hikind Tweets? I could go all day, but this sucks.

As we head into 2020, we are going to see more of this from the Dov Hikinds all across the country. And while these proxy wars and PR stunts are nothing new, it is truly shameful to see MAGA Jews on the religious right – who represent a fraction of the Jewish population – play these political games in the name of Jewish advocacy.

Jews are not a single issue population. Rose has repeatedly stuck up for his Jewish constituents while addressing climate change, racial inequality, infrastructure issues and the opioid crisis. Are some of his colleagues bad players? An emphatic and bipartisan yes. Don’t let the religious right exploit the worst politicians – in either party – to hijack incoming talent – talent that is pro-Jewish. And while you’re at it, give my man Max a few desperately needed dollars for his 2020 campaign.

About the Author
Matt Matilsky has been involved with Israel advocacy and American politics since college. He actively contributes for local and national publications regarding regional and Israel-related issues. He works at a recruitment firm in New York City.
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