SAN DIEGO — Last April, the San Diego region faced a horrific act of anti-Semitism when a man boiling with hate against the Jewish people entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue with an assault rifle and opened fire, killing a woman and wounding three others.
Two days later, as I stood in solidarity with a crowd of hundreds at a vigil held at Poway High School, my thoughts were with the families who had been attacked and Jewish families all over San Diego, whose community had been targeted simply because of who they are.
But I thought too about my own family. I’m the daughter of Mexican immigrants. My parents
faced discrimination frequently after immigrating to the U.S. And I’ve had to overcome more than my fair share of obstacles as an openly LGBTQ Latina.
Now, as a candidate for Congress, I keep those common experiences and shared bonds close as I consider issues of unique importance to the Jewish community – in particular, tackling the rise of antisemitism and advancing the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Just as the Latino and Jewish communities share so much in common, so do the United States and Israel. We share common roots as nations of immigrants. We share core values at the heart of our democracies – a free press, civil rights, an independent judiciary and more.
It’s of particular significance to me, that as the U.S. still struggles with tolerance and equality for the transgender community, transgender Israelis serve fully and openly in the military, including in combat positions and as officers.
Our countries also enjoy deep economic ties. Continued Israel and U.S. cooperation on fresh water recycling, renewable energy technology, medical research and high-tech innovations are critical to the Southern California economy and community.
I’ll work to develop those ties between our countries by continuing to support foreign aid to Israel as outlined in the Obama administration MOU. We can, and should, address difficult topics with Israel that are essential to the peace process, but threatening to withhold aid from Israel, or the Palestinian Authority as President Trump has done, jeopardizes Israel’s ability to
defend its security, promotes instability and extremism and undermines U.S. credibility.
President Obama led clearly on this issue, even when he disagreed strongly with the Israeli government’s policies.
I’m also supportive of continued U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. Achieving a two-state solution, something I strongly support, means the U.S. playing a central role in working towards peace, safety, and self-determination for both peoples. Just as advancing security and stabilityis critical for Israel, so too is expanding opportunity, fairness and hope in the Palestinian
That is in keeping with our values and lays the groundwork for a two-state peace agreement.
The US must play a key role in the peace process by facilitating bilateral communications and strengthening ties between leaders committed to peace on both sides.
One question I got recently on the U.S.-Israel relationship regarded the BDS movement, which advocates boycotts against and divestment from Israel. That’s not something I support. We need to do everything in our power to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to achieve peace, not drive the parties further apart.
Closer to home, I’m deeply troubled by the rise in hate crimes against Jews, skyrocketing anti-Semitism and the threat of white nationalism – and in Congress, I won’t hestitate to call out anti-Semitism explicitly.
As a progressive Democrat, it’s absolutely vital that we speak out forcefully when Donald Trump and his enablers traffic in hateful rhetoric that fuels the fire of white nationalism. It’s also important to strike the right tone in the Israel policy debate.
Legitimate, even fierce, debate is something I always welcome, but employing age-old anti-Semitic tropes of moneyed influence and dual loyalties neither advances the cause of peace in the Middle East nor helps to restore dignity and respect for all communities in our country, something we all have an obligation to fight for in these times.
Now more than ever, it’s critical that we work to stamp out hatred and discrimination and work to reduce the potential for disastrous conflicts across the globe. I’m ready to fight every day to build a better future here at home and in the Middle East – and as I do so I’ll always keep the connections between Latino and Jewish communities top of mind.
American Jews and Latinos share a history of seeking refuge and out of that history comes a shared commitment to justice. Polls show that 78% of Jewish Americans oppose Trump’s wall and deportations, and 77% of Latinos support Israel.
Last August, we saw that common purpose here in San Diego when the legislature’s Jewish Caucus and Latino Caucus made a joint trip to the border to speak out against Donald Trump’s illegal and immoral deportation policy. I’ve seen that common purpose firsthand so many times – not just last spring in Poway – but throughout my career as a community organizer
working in solidarity with Jewish faith leaders in the fight for justice for working people and underserved neighborhoods.
I look forward to more collaboration between our two communities as we work for comprehensive immigration reform and peace in the Middle East.
Georgette Gomez is president of the San Diego City Council and a candidate in the 53rd Congressional District from which California Congresswoman Susan Davis is retiring. This article is reprinted from San Diego Jewish World which, along with The Moderate Voice, is a member of the San Diego Online News Association.