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?

There is deep, systemic racism in the United States that permeates all of our systems and institutions, especially law enforcement and our criminal justice system. A systemic problem requires systemic reform and that means members of Congress have a responsibility to pass legislation to address these systemic inequities. Every single policy proposed or is being implemented must be scrutinized through the lens of inequity and discrimination.

I will advocate for the reallocation of federal funding from policing and incarceration to education, housing, building open spaces in our community, mental health services, and community-based solutions, especially in Black and Brown communities that have been disproportionately targeted by police brutality, mass incarceration, and crime. I’m one of only a few candidates in the race to sign the Defund Newton Police Department’s Refunding Community Safety pledge committing to doing just that.

In addition, I will support a variety of proposals to address our inequitable public safety approach, including:

● Amend the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 to end mandatory support for police forces and make restorative justice, youth employment and education programs eligible for grant fundings.

● Discontinue the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and divert its more than $300 million in funding to local and state governments to build out non-law enforcement expertise in responding to calls for service.

● End qualified immunity, immediately.

● Make it a crime to deny medical care to someone in custody.

● Ban chokeholds, tear gas, no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, and “broken windows” policing.

● Improve oversight – including data on use of force – and expand independent investigations.

● Reassert the Justice Department’s authority to investigate racial profiling, police brutality, violence, and civil rights violations. Increase funding for the Office of Civil Rights.

● Establish all-civilian review boards for police misconduct and improve data collection on police-involved shootings and ethics violations.

● Expand use of body cameras.

I know that, as a white woman, my efforts at helping end racism must also mean centering the voices of Black and Brown leaders in my own continuing education about race and racism (as there is no finish line in this process). It must also mean amplifying Black and Brown voices, and understanding that there will be times when my role must be to listen and support rather than to speak.

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?

The treatment of children and families at our borders has been one of the most offensive and unjust actions of Donald Trump’s many racist policies and will forever be a stain on our nation. The Trump administration has attacked immigration at every level, across the board – from refugees and asylum seekers to those holding H1-B visas to meet our workforce needs and, most egregiously, those being inhumanely separated from their families at the border. We need strong, moral leadership to right these wrongs and find a path that is reflective of the values America aspires to embody.

We need to fight back against the policies the Trump administration has set forth on immigration and find a different path more in line with our history and our values. The Fourth Congressional District has a proud history of welcoming people from distant shores– no matter which corner of the planet we all share. Our broken immigration system needs to be overhauled to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants- not criminalizing their mere existence in our nation. I support the Dream Act and Migrant Justice Platform. Here in Massachusetts, I have been supportive of the Work and Families Mobility Act (the Driver’s License bill).

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?

I strongly believe in safeguarding human rights and that Congress must use its existing powers of impeachment, subpoena, and the purse to engage in thoughtful and diplomatic foreign policy that reflects our values globally and uses our power to stop genocidal and hateful acts.

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?

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the people of the Fourth District were experiencing sweeping and systemic economic challenges that were still leaving far too many people and families behind. Now, economic inequality has only been exacerbated. We need to bring this economy back and, unlike now or before, we need a fair economy. This is especially important in a district that’s as economically diverse as the Fourth. And it intersects with many issues that the people of the Fourth District face every day – especially amid this crisis.

An initiative that I would lead on day one is the fight for a national Paid Family and Medical Leave law. The United States is the only industrialized nation without out and our failure to protect our workers is being seen in stark relief during the pandemic. No one should have to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of a sick loved one.

I was on the eight person team that negotiated the strongest Paid Family and Medical Leave law in the country here in Massachusetts. It is the first state law in the nation to allow for job-protected paid time off for personal health and additional paid time for military caregivers. I will fight to do the same on the federal level.

To build a fair economy, we also must invest in transportation, housing, and infrastructure, enact equal pay, empower SouthCoast communities by providing funding for job training programs and investing in good clean energy jobs, raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $15 per hour, strengthening labor protections, and addressing the underlying causes of the racial wealth gap. I believe we must pass a wealth tax and close corporate loopholes to level the playing field and I have been a fierce advocate in support of the Fair Share Amendment in Massachusetts to tax the wealthiest among us to make critical investments in education and transportation.

 

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?  

Anti-semitism is not new but it has been reinvigorated in recent years with an increase in anti-semitic rhetoric and acts of violence. Acts of anti-semitism are on the rise here in Massachusetts and there are reports of spikes due to COVID-19 conspiracy theories fueled by an out of control White House occupant. Politicians of both parties must be thoughtful and precise with the words they use in discussing Jewish issues, including Israel. In Congress, I would support legislation such as the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act to improve data collection on hate crimes, overhaul state and local crime reporting systems, establish hate crime reporting hotlines, encourage law enforcement policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes, and create education programs and community service programs for those convicted of hate crimes. The IHRA offers a thoughtful, well-researched definition of anti-Semitism, one that I personally use when thinking about what anti-semitism looks like. I believe it should be an important part of our discussions aimed at understanding and counteracting this unique form of hatred.

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?

We must have strong moral leadership to fight back against hateful rhetoric in all forms, and particularly anti-Semitism. As leaders, we need to hold ourselves and others accountable to ensure we are all intentional and thoughtful about the language we use when discussing groups that have been targets of oppression. We must ensure that our allies are educated about long-standing tropes and stereotypes that have been used to advance hate. This is true across all forms of hatred but the unique nature of anti-Semitism forces us to be particularly vigilant in guarding against it.

 

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?

I believe that the best approach to achieving long-term stability is a two-state solution: a secure, democratic, Jewish state of Israel and an independent, viable, peaceful Palestinian state. Such an outcome is a crucial American interest and the U.S. must play a central role in efforts moving forward.

As far off as a two-state reality seems at this moment, it remains a future worth fighting for. Alternative proposals unacceptably threaten either the Jewish or democratic nature of Israel. The United States and Congress must recommit to encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to take the small, difficult steps that will someday lead to peace. In the long-term, the United States should work to bring both parties back to the table, playing a facilitating role that recognizes their mutual need for peace, security, and self-determination. In the short term, the U.S. must use its influence to preserve the core elements of a two-state solution to be directly negotiated by the two parties, including borders based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed upon swaps, and a shared capital in Jerusalem for both states.

I do not think President Trump’s so-called “Peace Plan” will achieve peace. It is unacceptable that he acted without broad support from our allies and did not include key stakeholders in the framing of the plan. Furthermore, I am deeply disheartened by the Trump administration’s apparent encouragement of unilateral Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. These actions do not move us closer to a two-state solution but instead further increase tensions in the region.

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?

I oppose the global BDS Movement because, first and foremost, it does not support a two-state solution or the vital need for a Jewish state. I strongly oppose any anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from this movement and will forcefully do so whenever I see it - as we all should. I believe that BDS is misguided and not the most effective approach to the pursuit of peace or security for Israelis or Palestinians.

I am very much opposed to BDS as a movement and would support anti-BDS legislation like HR – 246. I do, however, firmly believe in civil liberties and the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech. As Americans, we have the right to offer political opinions and to perform acts of political expression. As such, I am also opposed to efforts to curtail free speech aimed at BDS proponents. I believe in informed democratic debate and the thoughtful exchange of ideas and I do not believe that Israel's defense requires the silencing of its critics.

 

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?

The current situation in Iran and Iraq is deeply concerning and I oppose the Trump administration’s effort to move the U.S. to a dangerous war footing. As it relates specifically to Israel, however, Iran has openly threatened the state of Israel and is a sponsor of terrorism across the world. The U.S. must work to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weaponry for the sake of Israel, the Palestinians, and the world.

I believe that the Trump administration made a dangerous error in pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While imperfect, the deal was succeeding in restraining Iranian nuclear development while simultaneously working to counteract the actions of a dangerous, anti-democratic Iranian regime. Furthermore, by abruptly pulling out of the agreement, the Trump administration undermined U.S. credibility around the world. The U.S. cannot possibly become an honest broker in the Middle East by breaking promises aimed at securing peace and stability in the region. I am hopeful that the Iranians will agree to come back to the table to negotiate a new deal. I am particularly hopeful that a negotiation in the future will address the full scope of Iranian malfeasance, including their support of terrorism.

In Congress, I would take any steps available to encourage the U.S. to come back to the underlying principles of the JCPOA and to find a way forward that ensures the international community is working together to reach a better deal.

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?

Trump has no foreign policy – he legislates by Tweet based on what he watches on Fox News. First and foremost, we need to restore our standing in the world and reinvest in diplomacy and our alliances, including in Europe. We need to end endless wars, repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force and bring troops home while remaining vigilant for continuing threats. Additionally, this is important to me on a personal level, as the daughter of a Dutch immigrant with strong family ties in the Netherlands.

 

General

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

I’ve built a 20-year career as a progressive fighter on issues that are critical to voters in the Fourth Congressional District. My professional experience working at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts during the height of the fight to include reproductive health care in the Affordable Care Act, serving on the Brookline Select Board for six years where I partnered with community activists to tackle climate change by banning plastic bags and styrofoam at the local level, running point on the Strong Women Strong Families Initiative during my time in Governor Patrick’s administration, and leading the state's progressive business community as President of the Alliance for Business Leadership, where I was one of eight voices at the table with legislative leaders negotiating what is now the strongest paid family and medical leave law in the nation, makes me uniquely qualified to go to Washington to fight for residents of the Fourth District.

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

My top priority if elected is leading an equitable response to COVID-19 that creates a fair economy that works for everyone, including:

●             Fixing our broken health care system. We need Medicare for All – right now –more than ever. The pandemic underscores the deep flaws of our current system, with millions of Americans losing their access to health care in the middle of a pandemic just because they lost their jobs.

●             Fighting like our reproductive rights might be stripped away – because they might be. That includes access to abortion, which is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure, not something that can be denied during a crisis to further a radical, anti-choice agenda. That’s why I was the first candidate in the race to put out a comprehensive plan to protect and expand reproductive rights.

●             Enacting paid leave at the national level to protect workers who get sick or need to take care of sick loved ones. I was one of eight people who negotiated what is now the strongest paid family and medical leave policy in the country in Massachusetts.

●             Passing a Green New Deal to address our climate crisis and to create good jobs, with particular attention to making desperately needed improvements to our failing transportation system to foster equitable economic growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 


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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