Racism, Immigration and Human Rights

Question 1: The murder of George Floyd is prompting a national discussion concerning our nation’s failure to fully address historic racial injustice. What is the role of Congress in defining and addressing historic injustices? What measures will you promote as a member of the United States Congress to combat racial injustice?

George Floyd's murder laid bare what's been true for generation after generation: institutional racism is real, systemic and part of the daily experience of every Black person. This is the reality in every city and town across the Commonwealth and across the country. The systemic racism ingrained in this country and our police forces is something that we need to be honest about and confront head on. As a country, we’re facing hard truths about bias, bigotry, racism, police violence, and economic justice. I believe strongly that Black Lives Matter and that institutional racism is real and deadly. As a candidate for Congress, I have a responsibility to amplify the millions who have protested, demonstrated, and stood in solidarity with Black people who have been targeted by law enforcement with stunning frequency. They are crying out for change. They are commanding us to do better.

We’re obligated to move forward with a collective commitment to reject the status quo and embrace societal change and racial justice. The problems in our police departments in particular are so significant and so widespread that there can’t only be one solution; instead, we need a broad set of reforms. To start, we need a deep and thoughtful examination of how we spend money on our police forces while simultaneously increasing funding for mental health, rehabilitation, and education. Additionally, I’m committed to promoting the demilitarization of police departments, ending qualified immunity for law enforcement, fully banning chokeholds, and creating civilian review boards to investigate police misconduct.

I also recognize that fighting for racial justice goes beyond reforming our police departments –– institutional racism is built into a whole range of institutions. Whether it’s confronting the legacy of discriminatory redlining practices that results in segregation and scarce affordable housing; or repairing the deep racial inequalities in school district funding; or fighting for equal voting rights since Shelby County V. Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act; or closing the racial wealth gap and providing Black entrepreneurs with access to capital, we have so much work to reverse 400 years of racial oppression. I’m committed to being a strong ally and advocate for these causes in Congress.

Question 2:        There is widespread agreement that our current immigration system is in need of reform consistent with our nation’s economic and national security interests and its historic commitment to be a haven for the vulnerable and oppressed around the world. What do you foresee as the best pathway forward for immigration reform and how would you work across the aisle to achieve these policy goals?

Immigration is a deeply personal issue to me. I am able to have the life I have and step forward as a candidate for U.S. Congress because my family managed to escape Poland before the Holocaust and immigrate to this country. I’m horrified and outraged by President Trump’s campaign of lies and relentless racial, ethnic, and religious hatred against immigrants, threatening people and tearing apart families who have contributed to our nation for years and demonizing those whose only “crime” is to believe that America means a better future for themselves and their children. Separating families and putting children in cages not only undercuts our values but also doesn’t make us any safer. Reversing Trump’s cruel immigration agenda must be the first step when the next administration takes office.

Moving forward from there, I will fight to protect immigrants and American values and support long-overdue immigration reform. We need to protect our DREAMers and ensure that DACA is once and for all the law of the land. We need to stop dehumanizing undocumented immigrants and instead treat them with compassion and open a path to citizenship. We also must ensure that America is once again a safe haven for those escaping persecution and abuse, and I will fight to restore our annual refugee quota to the Obama-era levels. Finally, we need to redeploy our federal to focus on real cross-border dangers such as human trafficking, weapons smuggling, and the illicit importation of drugs.

Question 3: To what extent should the safeguarding of human rights, including but not limited to preventing genocide and combating racism and religious persecution, inform our nation’s international relationships, trade agreements, and diplomatic conduct?

From Xinjiang, to Crimea, to Myanmar, we’ve witnessed an assault on human rights globally over the last several years. Rather than conducting a values-based foreign policy that fulfills America’s diplomatic, security, moral obligations, President Trump has embraced –– even celebrated –– authoritarian leaders and regimes engaged in vicious suppression of their people based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. In January of 2021, the United States must start to reclaim its mantle as a steadfast supporter of human rights and international norms by repairing and renewing our alliances with other democracies and centering diplomacy as the cornerstone of our foreign policy. Along with our allies, we need to send a clear message to the world that persecution and infringement on human rights will not be tolerated. States who engage in this behavior must understand that they will not benefit from trading privileges or warm diplomatic relations with the U.S. and other democratic countries. These efforts must also go hand-in-hand with a democratic renewal at home, with efforts to root out systemic racism and voter suppression and a return to a humane immigration agenda, among other measures. As I see it, safeguarding human rights globally isn’t just a moral obligation –– it’s also a matter of strategy, as abusers of human rights simply aren’t trustworthy partners.

Question 4: There is growing concern in the country about financial inequality and its consequences for those lower on the economic ladder.  If elected to the United States Congress, describe at least one initiative you will propose to address this concern?

I’m deeply concerned about rising inequality in the United States. Tackling inequality isn’t only a matter of economic justice, but also vital to repairing our social fabric and demonstrating to those who have lost faith in our system that government works for them too. In the country at large, wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1% and everyone else is treading water. I will work to repeal the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations, to provide tax relief for the middle class, and to ensure that the ultra-rich and corporate giants pay their fair share. The current financial crisis is an opportunity to reimagine an economy that works for everyone, and we must start to mobilize our federal resources and invest in working families.

I will also advocate for numerous other measures to reduce inequality in America. First, we should couple the need for bold climate action with the need to put millions of Americans back to work with good-paying jobs through robust investments in green jobs, infrastructure, and public transit. We also need a large infusion of affordable housing across every community. The federal government must increase our housing stock while prioritizing groups who have been marginalized on the basis of race and sexual orientation because of redlining and outright discrimination. Another issue I’m passionate about is achieving universal pre-K in child care. Compared to other highly-developed economies, the United States has a glaring lack of public policy and infrastructure to support young families. We know that the opportunity gap starts at the very beginning of a child’s life. Andchildren who don’t have access to quality early childhood care and education grow up with severe, long-term disadvantages. In order to level that playing field, it’s become clear that working families in this country desperately need relief. Rebuilding the middle class, providing pathways to opportunity for those struggling to get into the middle class, starting to tackle the racial wealth gap, and recovering equitably from this economic crisis starts with a child care system that is affordable and accessible to all.

 

Antisemitism

Question 5: Antisemitism and violence against Jews are on the rise around the world. According to the FBI’s most recent Hate Crimes Statistics report, in 2018 anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for 57% of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Nearly one third of respondents in a recent AJC survey of American Jews reported having been afraid to wear something in public that identifies them as Jews. To address this problem, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance drafted a “Working Definition” of antisemitism, which has been adopted in dozens of countries in Europe (including Germany, France, and the UK) and endorsed by UN Secretary General Gutierrez and the US Department of State. This definition provides a means for assessing when given actions may involve bias against Jews, thereby reducing confusion and providing a basis for constructive action. Will you go on record to endorse the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism?

The recent rise of anti-Semitism here at home and around the world is heartbreaking, alarming, and a threat to the safety and well-being of Jews here in America and around the world. We have an obligation to combat and root out anti-Semitism in all forms, and I will use my bully pulpit in Congress to address and forcefully speak out against anti-Semitism. I wholeheartedly endorse the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism and hope to see more and more countries around the world adopt this definition as well.

Question 6: In recent years, advocates for anti-Israel and, at times, anti-Jewish political agendas have demonstrated growing success in their effort to coopt the movement for racial justice.  For example, before and since the murder of George Floyd, some proponents of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement have circulated a false and tendentious narrative that holds Israel responsible for law enforcement tactics that brutalize people of color. These claims undermine the fight against the current manifestations of white supremacy (e.g. voter suppression, de facto segregation, over-policing, over-imprisonment and other measures that promote inequality). They also demonstrate how readily false and malicious claims about Jews and Jewish interests can take root and spread. Should you be elected to the United States Congress, how do you propose to ensure that the quest for racial justice remains strong and that those who would undermine it through false and malicious claims are marginalized?

I oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is rooted in anti-Semitic sentiment, and I support Black Lives Matter, which is about confronting and ending the daily reality of systemic, pervasive racism against Black people. I will never tolerate any attempt to shift the blame for American racism, including police violence, onto Israel or anywhere other than where it belongs, which is on our country and society here in America. And I will call out anyone who seeks to poison and pervert the extraordinary movement happening now for racial and social justice in the United States with anti-Semitism and hate.

 

Israel

Question 7: We are in the midst of another fraught moment in the ongoing struggle for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Hamas continues to advocate for Israel’s destruction. The Palestinian Authority has refused negotiations for more than 5 years. And, in the absence of a credible peace process, the new Israeli coalition government has stated its desire to apply Israeli law to West Bank settlements (albeit, it appears now, within a much smaller territory than was proposed before the formation of the current government).  For decades, a two-state solution has been a pillar of American foreign policy. Do you support a two-state solution to this conflict that will provide for a Palestinian and an Israeli state? What do you believe the role of the United States should be in resolving this conflict? As a member of Congress, what policies would you advocate for to advance your view of our nation’s role?

To ensure lasting peace and security for Israel, I support finding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Finding this solution is essential to protecting a permanent home for Jewish people around the world and safeguarding the only liberal Democracy in the Middle East. The United States must return to its role as an honest broker that brings both sides to the negotiating table.

Question 8: Israel is home to nearly half of the world’s Jewish population. Israel is a democratic country and its citizens are accustomed to robust debate, at home and abroad, concerning their nation’s policies and actions. Regrettably, in the United States and elsewhere, there is mounting support for movements, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, that purport to promote Palestinian rights but do so by denying Israel’s legitimacy, refusing dialogue, and advocating for Israel’s destruction. This malicious portrayal of Israel and the reality of its conflict with the Palestinians has prompted notable acts of antisemitism; especially on college campuses. It has also polarized public discourse and dimmed prospects for a negotiated solution to the conflict. If elected to Congress, what, if anything, would you say to those who deny Israel’s legitimacy and advocate for an end of the world’s only Jewish state?

For me, advocating for lasting peace and security for Israel isn’t simply a policy position, it’s personal. I grew up in a Conservative Jewish household, with a father who converted to Judaism to marry my mother. When we were kids, my mother would tell us about my great- grandmother who stood up to the Cossacks in Poland, refusing to cook a nonkosher chicken for soldiers who came to her door demanding she do so. I was raised knowing I would always have a home and a safe haven in Israel. I oppose the dangerous Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which is rooted in anti-Semitic sentiment. I believe that the BDS movement should be called out for what it is – an anti-Semitic attempt to delegitimize Israel and deny her right to exist. One of the BDS movement’s three stated goals is the right of return of Palestinians who have left Israel over the last 70 years to their homes and properties in what is now Israel; such a notion would mean the end of Israel as a democratic Jewish state. BDS further undermines a two-state solution by laying blame singularly on Israel, prioritizing that over lifting up ordinary Palestinians. BDS also puts US jobs at risk, as US exports to Israel support American jobs, and Israeli-owned companies provide jobs to US workers.

 

International Relations and the U.S. Role on the Global Stage 

Question 9: Should a new administration come to Washington, a discussion may result concerning a return to the JCPOA.  Given new evidence of Iran’s secret undeclared nuclear facilities and Iran’s: (1) refusal to allow inspection of these facilities, (2) ongoing efforts to destabilize countries across the region,(3) continuing to financing and arming of  Hezbollah and other radical actors dedicated to Israel’s destruction and (4) repeated bellicose attacks on Western values and interests, are there conditions you would want to attach, beyond those stipulated in the JCPOA, to any proposal to return to the JCPOA?

A nuclear-armed Iran presents the greatest threat to Israel and the region. It is in our national security interest and in the interest of Israel to never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Undoubtedly, the Trump Administration’s impulsive decision to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with no credible plan to attain a better alternative, has hurt that goal, regardless of one’s belief if the JCPOA was the best way forward. When the JCPOA was intact, observers found that Iran was complying with the terms; Trump’s withdrawal freed Iran to take steps toward development of nuclear weapons and isolated us from our European allies. President Trump’s reckless action has hurt the United States’ standing with our allies around the world and has taken us backwards in our goal of peace and security for Israel. I worry now without any agreement in place that Iran is building up its enrichment infrastructure.

Question 10: A robust Transatlantic relationship between the United States and European democracies (AJC has 5 European offices and three regional representatives) has been a pillar of US foreign policy since the end of World War II. In recent years, this relationship has suffered strains. Some contend that this historic alliance is undergoing a fundamental change. Is it important that we sustain the United States historic post-World War II partnership with Europe or is it time to rethink this relationship? If elected, what policies will you pursue to advance your views?

It’s vitally important that that the United States sustains and renews our historic post-World War II partnership with Europe. President Trump has deliberately torn down international institutions and values which America spent decades cultivating, quitting the Paris Climate Accord, gutting our diplomatic corps, and cozying up to dictators while alienating true friends and allies. In order to regain Europe’s trust, the next administration and Congress should immediately pursue dialogue and policies that demonstrate our commitment to the United States’ and Europe’s shared values and interests. We must partner together to counter rising illiberalism and authoritarianism as well as weaponized disinformation, and we must revitalize a global coalition to combat climate change, elevate human rights, and defend democracy.

 

General

Question 11:     What experiences qualify you to represent the citizens living in your district?

I’m currently an At-Large member of the Newton City Council and Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee, representing residents of one of the district’s largest cities, with a particular focus on improving school building facilities, addressing the city’s infrastructure and transportation challenges, and supporting local efforts to combat the climate change crisis. But the job I cherish most is being mom to my two kids –– Madeleine, who just turned 9, and Jack, who just turned 6. I’m running for Congress with the fierce urgency of a mom who is fed up by what’s going on in Washington and determined to make change. Out of 435 members of Congress, there are only 25 moms of school-aged children. I believe that if elect more moms of young kids, we can start to finally move the conversation forward on urgent issues like gun control, climate change, and affordable healthcare and child care. We won’t be able to tackle our most urgent issues until we start sending new and different types of leaders to Washington who aren’t afraid to stand up to powerful special interests. This is a perspective that I believe is sorely missing and needed in Washington, and one that I’m proud to be offering.

Before joining the Council, I served as an Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County and an Associate at the law firm of Goodwin Procter. I also served as Director of Operations on my father-in-law’s (Steve Grossman) successful statewide campaign for Treasurer in Massachusetts. I received my undergraduate degree in economics at Cornell University and earned a J.D. and M.B.A. from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.

Question 12: What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  • Taking on the NRA and finally tackling gun violence in this country. When my son Jack started kindergarten this year, like so many parents, I had to fumble my way to find the words to tell him how to run in a zig-zag pattern or find a quiet place to hide if a scary person with a gun were to show up at his school. That is not a conversation that any parent should need to have with their child or a fear that any child should have going to school. Gun violence has torn too many families and communities apart – and disproportionately communities of color – for too long and the NRA continues to threaten our kids' safety. While I’ve been heartened by the progress and reforms achieved at the state level spurred by groups like Moms Demand Action, it’s way past time for us to enact reasonable gun measures on the federal level –– measures that have popular support from the vast majority of voters in this country. We deserve to live in a country free from fear of gun violence, and I will fight every day in Congress to make that a reality.
  • Fighting for an ambitious climate agenda in the vein of the value-proposition of the Green New Deal. We’re hurtling toward a future where the everyday realities of climate change overshadow everything. The climate crisis has already arrived, and this pandemic in particular has exposed that low-income communities and communities of color bear the brunt of the effects. I believe that we must leverage our federal resources and investment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, to overhaul our transportation and infrastructure systems, and to uplift millions of Americans with good-paying jobs – all while prioritizing environmental justice for frontline, low-income, and minority communities. We must also revitalize a global coalition to tackle the climate emergency, because we are all in this together and the world needs U.S. global leadership.
  • Getting money out of politics. In Washington, special interests run the show. Instead of working for families, the Trump Administration and Republicans work to cut taxes and line the pockets of their corporate interest donors. Whether it's Big Pharma indiscriminately jacking up prescription drug prices or Big Oil persuading the Trump Administration to roll back environmental regulations, we see a direct link between money and legislative outcomes that favor those who can buy influence – especially since Citizens United opened the floodgates for dark money and corporate money. That’s why I support enacting H.R. 1, cracking down on the revolving door between public office and lobbying, and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) is the leading organization dedicated to Jewish advocacy at home and around the world. Through a global network comprised of 24 domestic regional offices; 12 overseas posts in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East; and 37 partnerships with international Jewish communities, AJC engages with political, religious and civic leaders to combat antisemitism and bigotry, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, and advance democratic values at home and abroad.

AJC New England recently invited all 11 Republican and Democratic declared candidates for the Congressional seat from the 4th District of Massachusetts to participate in a survey on some matters of import to our community.

AJC is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan organization and does not endorse or support any candidate for elected office, whether or not they responded to the survey. We offer this survey to educate the electorate about the views of the candidates for this office.

 

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