May 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Catherine Parker Is Coming for Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s Congressional Seat

Catherine Parker, a resident of Rye, New York, is running for Congress in New York’s newly redrawn 16th district, one of the most Jewish districts in the country. She has much to say about the district’s current representative, Jamaal Bowman, and it’s not pretty.

Parker agreed to be interviewed about issues of concern to the Jewish community, as she gets her message out to her constituents.

 

On Israel and the United Nations

Among the three people running for the seat in the Democratic primary, Parker is the only one who put Israel on her website as part of her agenda. Her website specifies:

“Israel is an important ally to the United States, and in Washington, Catherine will be a steadfast ally of the Middle East’s only democracy. Unlike her opponent who has consistently opposed U.S. policy supportive of Israel, Catherine would have voted in support of Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its citizens and she would have voted for funding of the Iron Dome.

“Catherine opposes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to end international support for Israel. She believes wholeheartedly in a two-state solution. When it comes to a deal with Iran regarding nuclear—a new Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—we need to see that it will be more protective and longer, stronger and broader than what was negotiated by President Obama in 2015. And unlike her opponent, Catherine supports strengthening the Abraham Accords and would have voted in support for the Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021.”

These very supportive statements about the Jewish State served as a basis for our conversation.

On BDS, Parker said that it’s “just a version of antisemitism.” She believes that it should have no standing or support in our government.

She said that aid to Israel should not be conditional, much as President Biden has stated. She offered that Israel’s security has enhanced America’s security, and with “Israel being attacked all the time from terrorist groups like Hamas, it [Israel] deserves our support.”

Parker added that she supported the Taylor Force Act, which limited funds to the Palestinian Authority as long as it pays the families of terrorists. “If the PA is going to be paying stipends to terrorists, then as a country, we shouldn’t be providing economic aid [to the PA].”

Parker added that she doesn’t think that the United Nations is fair in regards to Israel. In particular, she pointed to the U.N. Human Rights Council which continues to target Israel, a theme the State Department discussed a few weeks ago. She had no comment about the unique perpetual agency devoted to the descendants of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, and said she would look into it.

Parker has never been to Israel but aligns herself with the Jewish State. While she has no position on Israelis living east of the Green Line in “settlements,” she is eager to visit the country and to learn more.

 

Iran’s Nuclear Program

Parker called the Islamic Republic of Iran “bad actors.” She was disappointed that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s attempt at diplomacy had seemingly broken down, and said she is “open to listening” to alternatives to deal with the menace, including military action.

 

Antisemitism

Parker supports the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. She discussed her family’s long connection to former Rep. Nita Lowey, and supports having Holocaust education in every school in the country. Parker views this as important to combat antisemitism and to benefit all of society.

 

Why She’s Running: Bowman

Parker went through a lengthy list of reasons why she’s running for Congress, and it centers around Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

She said that she believes that Bowman’s advocacy for ‘Defund the Police’ “is absolutely ridiculous.” The country has “many wonderful people serving us” and the key to combating some rogue officers is to have “implicit bias training” for active police officers.

Parker thinks that Bowman has made terrible policy decisions for the lower Westchester district and for the country, including voting against the infrastructure bill, against aid to Ukraine, and against supporting Israel.

She contrasted her style with Bowman, who has a terrible working relationship with fellow Democrats in Westchester. (Writer’s note: I have repeatedly heard the same criticism.) Parker commented about how she strives for bipartisanship in her dealings with Republicans and Democrats in passing laws that benefit the community, and wants to bring that kind of care to Washington. She said that Bowman seems to be driven by personal motivation or his ties to the socialist fringe of the party, and clearly not to his constituents.

 

Summary

Catherine Parker is a seasoned local politician who is learning about the larger national and international issues that concern her Westchester constituents, including Jews. Her instincts seem good and she avoided wading into unfamiliar topics until learning more. I would not be surprised to see her win endorsements for her positions on antisemitism and Israel from a variety of groups including Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), which normally doesn’t fight incumbents and AIPAC, America’s pro-Israel lobby, as well as other pro-Israel Democrats like Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15), just to the south of her district.

By way of comparison, Bowman is supported as part of the extremist “squad” endorsed by the Sunrise Movement and the Working Families Party, which also support Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush, all of whom have cast votes and made comments deeply hurtful to the Jewish community. Consider that the D.C. chapter of the Sunrise Movement actually banned progressive Jewish groups from an event, including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA). Even far-left groups like Americans for Peace Now were appalled at the Sunrise Movement’s action, as the president and CEO said, “This is boycotting groups because they are Jewish and state a general … support of Israel,” even though it’s not a core component of their mission, making the action blatantly antisemitic.

The differences between Bowman and Parker are dramatic.

The Democratic primary will be held on August 23, with early voting beginning on August 13.

By Lawrence Askowitz

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