Silence from the sidelines

Silence from the sidelines

N.J. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Dist. 12) tries to explain her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) by saying she really doesn’t support their goals (“NJ representative supports boycotts, not BDS,” Sept. 19). For good measure, she lets us know that she is in favor of a two-state solution and some of her favorite trips have been to Israel. 

Of course, if BDS had its way, her next trip could be to Palestine, where she could see first-hand how minority rights were being protected. 

But Watson Coleman doesn’t call attention to herself for this vote alone. Her indifference and hostility to concerns affecting the Jewish community neither begin nor end here. According to the Washington Post, when the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives was considering how to respond to the incendiary remarks of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Watson Coleman was among the first members to speak up in the meeting asking, “Why are we doing this?” She also said she was concerned that a House vote condemning hate was “a distraction.” 

I suppose one community’s concern is another’s distraction. In both cases, it is easy to see how important anti-Semitism, and its thinly disguised hostility to Israel, are to the congresswoman. Neither appears on her website’s list of a dozen “issues.” Even as violent anti-Semitic acts are on the rise in New Jersey and around the country, she is nearly silent. In her nearly 40 press releases since the beginning of the year, there is only the acknowledgement of the House’s watered-down resolution (passed in March) condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance,” and, now that the problem has been solved, the need to get back to work. 

Watson Coleman may not be in the front row of those who would attack, but she is clearly willing to stand in silence on the sidelines.

Jonathan Hirst

read more: