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AOC’s ‘Squad’ Represents Me As An American Jew – More Than Any Republican

In the midst of President Trump’s racist tweetstorm directed at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, he decided to throw in Israel.

As if it wasn’t enough to suggest that three U.S. born Congresswoman and one immigrant warrior “go back” to their countries, Trump then had to drag the Jews into it.

I have a message for the President: the Squad, as the four are known, represent me more as a Jew than he ever will.

For me as an American Jew, seeing a diverse group of young women who are focused on progressive policies inspires me. As a Jewish woman, social and economic justice are inextricably connected with “Tikkun Olam” – healing the world. “The Squad” champions policies that seek to insure that everyone receives healthcare. They are working to end the epidemic of gun violence, and improve American life for people of all faiths, races, and creeds.

These are Jewish values. These women are my champions, as a Jew.

This is in stark contrast to the other side. The other side is putting babies in cages, failing to condemn neo-Nazis, giving tax cuts to the wealthy, and — yes — making concentration camps on our border.

And American Jews are appalled by it all. Only one in six American Jews identifies as Republican. More than 79% of American Jews cast their votes for Democratic candidates in 2018. We voted for Democrats at a higher rate than Evangelical Christians voted for Republicans.

Trump and Republicans are trying to brand themselves as the “pro-Israel” party. But we Jews know better. I am tired of being gaslit by my government. Seeing an American political party attempt to weaponize my family’s history enrages me in a deeply personal way. The arrogance of the Republican Party trying to tell me what Anti Semitism is, when there are literally two Jewish Republicans in the entire US Congress (two in the House, zero in the Senate) is astounding.

I’m an American citizen. I care deeply about Israel. But I’m capable of caring about Israel while voting based on what I’d like to see happen in the nation I’m raising my family in. Assuming I vote on one issue and one issue alone insults my intelligence.

We Jews know what bigotry and injustice looks and feels like. So when I see Republicans justify the atrocities against migrants at the border, when I see them practice xenophobia against Muslims, and racism against blacks, I identify with these oppressed groups far more than with the oppressor. Because we’ve been there. I don’t want anyone else to experience it on my watch.

I find far more solidarity with the Squad, a group of black and brown progressive women, than I ever will with the Republican Party.

I’ve already been called a self hating Jew (and far worse) by Republicans who claim to love Israel and the Jewish people. It’s funny how these people, who claim to oppose anti-Semitism, allow it to flourish on their watch, isn’t it?

But that’s the cognitive dissonance of being the party of Trump. And it’s why the Republican Party, try as they might to use people like me as a human shield against the just accusations of bigotry, will never get my vote.

Shoshana Hershkowitz is an educator, musician, and political organizer from Suffolk County, NY.


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