In defense of Rep. Mikie Sherrill

Alan J. Steinberg’s characterization of NJ 11th District Congressional Rep. Mikie Sherrill as an “appeaser” of antisemites and “on a political collision course with the New Jersey Jewish community” (“What does genocide mean,” 12/15) doesn’t hold water.

Those of us in her district know Rep. Sherrill to have been a close friend of our community for many years, and someone who has consistently stood up against antisemitism, including quickly coming to the aid of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield when it was the site of an attempted firebombing this February, and most recently delivering a strong letter to the presidents of New Jersey’s public colleges demanding to know what they are doing to ensure that Jewish students are free from harassment and bullying on campus.

Steinberg’s principal complaint appears to be that Rep. Sherrill did not go along with a particular Republican-sponsored antisemitism resolution that was rushed through to a vote with little consideration earlier this month. That resolution was not supported by the House bipartisan Antisemitism Task Force, the Anti-Defamation League, or the American Jewish Committee.

New York Congressman Jerold Nadler, the dean of Jewish members of the House, who along with Rep. Sherrill voted present on the bill, has protested against the leaders of the narrow Republican House majority pushing this purely symbolic measure while refusing to take action to fund the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which is charged with protecting Jewish students from discrimination on campus, or to ensure that the High-Risk Nonprofit Security Grant
Program run through the Department of Homeland Security, which protects synagogues and Hebrew schools, has a meaningful increase in funding.

Rep. Nadler also pointed out that in its haste to brand all adherents of anti-Zionist philosophies as antisemites, the resolution lumps in members of the Satmar chasidic community, who oppose Zionism on religious grounds.

Rep. Sherrill’s positive position on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is also a matter of public record — unqualified support of the continuing efforts to free all the hostages and for pauses in the fighting to address the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza. Those are positions that almost all of our Jewish community in the 11th District agree on. All of us should be working with our representatives and informing them in the best way we know how at this difficult time. There may differences on particular language, but it’s also true that the manner in which the current Israeli government has been choosing to conduct the war is unsustainable and not an acceptable way forward.

Mark Lurinsky, Montclair

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