In just a few short weeks, Queens will elect a new District Attorney for the first time in 28 years. As criminal justice issues have come to the forefront of mainstream attention, the DA race has become the campaign to watch for those with their finger on the political pulse of the city.
New York City is safer than it has ever been. Violent crimes continue to fall in nearly every category at a steady clip, thanks to great measures taken by our Police Department. However, there is one exception to this statistic. Hate crimes have seen a dramatic uptick in the last year, and there is no doubt that the majority of them are directed at the Jewish community.
To date, there have been 184 hate crimes reported in the city this year, a 64 percent jump since last year. Of that number, 60 percent have been anti-Semitic, which largely makes up the 82 percent increase in anti-Jewish crimes since 2018. As election day inches closer, let us all bear in mind that it is our District Attorneys who will have the most influence in curbing the rise of anti-Semitic incidents. The District Attorney’s office is responsible for prosecuting hate crime charges and prosecuting alleged violators to the fullest extent of the law.
Of the numerous candidates who have entered the stage, there is a variety of thought in policy and politics being represented. There is one candidate running for this office who should raise a clear alarm for the Jewish community, based on her rhetoric and political affiliations. We must ensure that Tiffany Cabán and her political allies do not succeed in bringing their policies to the District Attorney’s office in this crucial time.
Cabán climbed the ranks of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to become the left-wing faction’s representative for this race. After an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, her popularity has surged and she has begun to gain the attention of the national media. Cabán’s policies largely reflect the politics of the extreme left’s views of criminal justice. She has vowed to end the prosecution of numerous offenses, and in essence, diminish the law enforcement authority of her sought office. But it is not her progressive ideology that is of the greatest threat to the Jewish community. Rather, her affiliations within DSA and a ringing endorsement from well-known anti-Semite Linda Sarsour that raise immediate red flags.
The DSA has been flirting with anti-Semitic sentiments for decades. They openly support the BDS-movement and spread biased information about Israel on social media and left-wing platforms. Their website openly stood with the hateful statements put out by Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. The Queens faction of this organization recently organized a pro-BDS event which was going to feature two anti-Israel activists who had a long track record of statements that supported violence against Israel. And this does not hold a candle to the consistent and unapologetic smears against the Jewish people held by activist, Linda Sarsour. Her vitriol is so hateful that even the Democratic National Committee distanced themselves from her and dropped their support of her Women’s March. Tiffany Cabán has been proud to tout the support of both of these hateful parties, and as such is woefully unqualified to protect our community in this troubled time.
It is no secret that, in New York City, elections are determined in the Democratic primary. In Queens alone, Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-to-1, so this election will ultimately be determined in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 25. To be eligible to vote in a Democratic Primary in New York State, you must be a registered Democrat. Without the ability to vote in New York’s closed Primary system, Jewish communities and our needs will continue to be overlooked in city and state government. As the Democrats struggle to keep the party centered, its progressive left wing is pulling it to dangerously anti-Semitic levels in our own backyard. We must vote in the Democratic Primary for District Attorney, and we must correct the anti-Semitic trend to which the party is headed before it is too late. The Jewish Community cannot afford to be complacent.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.