What Salazar’s Win Has Revealed

Julia Salazar (Photo from Julia Salazar for State Senate website)

Julia Salazar, the democratic socialist candidate who unseated an incumbent to win the Democratic nomination for the New York State Senate seat from the 18th district, received widespread coverage and criticism in the weeks leading up to the primary vote on Sept. 13. Her win happened, writes Batya Ungar-Sargon in The Forward, “despite a flurry of negative press over the summer questioning some of her biographical claims, exposing a lawsuit and arrest, and forcibly outing her as a sexual assault survivor.”

Ungar-Sargon argues that both Salazar’s win and the focus on details about her background are reflective of a lot more than the worthiness of Salazar as a candidate and a young politician. Rather, says the opinion writer at The Forward, “Salazar’s candidacy has revealed that a growing generational divide in the Jewish community when it comes to Israel is expanding to other areas.”

As poll after poll has pointed out, when it comes to Israel, younger Jews are much more ambivalent than their parents and grandparents, and increasingly supportive of the Palestinian cause.

Very much in line with this, Salazar herself has written pro-Palestinian articles, and is a supporter of the movement to boycott Israel, along with the DSA more generally.

Though she’s not Jewish in the strictest sense of the word — Salazar’s father is of Sephardic origin, and she has made conflicting statements about having converted — Salazar is representative of a young generation of progressive Jews whose politics involve criticizing Israel’s occupation and other progressive causes like healthcare for all and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

She is also representative of a new and newly vocal Jewish form of identity. Coming to her defense when her claims to being Jewish were questioned was JFREJ [Jews for Racial & Economic Justice], where Salazar worked, a voice for young Jews of Color and those who support them. Jews of Color are used to having their Jewishness questioned, and the Tablet article triggered a difficult conversation about the pain such questioning causes.

Go to The Forward to read more about why Ungar-Sargon believes “as important as the shift in New York politics is the shift in the Jewish community that Salazar — and the conversation about her — portends.”

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