Letter to the editor,
Many in Georgia are following the close Senate race between Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, a media executive and small business owner. This race is one of many across the country that could help Democrats take back control of the Senate if it results in an Ossoff victory. For us as the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Atlanta, a grassroots organization, this race hits close to home.
If elected, Ossoff has pledged to fight for the things that matter most to us, including healthcare coverage for every American, defending a woman’s right to choose, instituting gun safety reforms and closing equity gaps in our education system. Jon’s mother Heather is an active member of JDWS and a role model to all 1,500 members of our group for the power of activism to accomplish community change.
When news broke that Perdue’s campaign had run a now-deleted ad accusing Democrats of “trying to buy Georgia” along with a photo that appeared to make Ossoff’s nose larger, we were disappointed but not surprised. We were disappointed that Perdue has decided to play into the political divisions that are plaguing our nation instead of working to unify our community. We were disappointed that his campaign chose to target Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ossoff, both of whom are Jewish, and accuse Democrats of trying to buy the election. We were curious why, with less than 100 days remaining until the election, Perdue’s campaign is blaming an outside vendor for the altered photo – which they are calling an “unintentional error” – and attacking his opponent rather than focusing on bettering the lives of the citizens he was elected to represent. We were disappointed, but we were not surprised. We were not surprised because we have seen this type of attack before. The world recognizes an anti-Semitic attack when they see one. And we are not surprised that Perdue and his campaign have not sufficiently apologized for this “unintentional error.” Ossoff is correct in saying that this type of ad is the “oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history.” And it does not belong in politics.
For far too long and far too often, discrimination against the Jewish people has been motivated by fear, or even more commonly, simply because of blatant racism. Instead of pressing his opponent on priorities and policy ideas, Perdue has chosen to attack the identity of his opponent. We may never know what led up to the production and publication of this ad, nor who was directly involved, but we do know this: anti-Semitism has plagued our nation and our politics for far too long – and we will not tolerate it.
We in Georgia who are committed to ending hate in our midst feel compelled to call it out and remind others that we cannot tolerate hate in any of its forms. As women, as Jews, and as Georgia residents, we are fighting to end the divisiveness that has broken our nation. Changing the tide in America starts on the local level, and we are urging you to join us. Join us in standing up against anti-Semitism. Join us in creating a political environment where candidates prioritize the well-being of those they work to represent and value discourse rather than attacking the identities of their opponents. We cannot do this alone. In the days leading up to one of the most important elections in American history, both nationally and on a local level, we invite you to join organizations like ours that are fighting for the issues that matter. Vote and encourage your family and friends to do so as well. Get involved in a campaign. Advocate for the issues you value the most.
We were disappointed by Perdue’s ad, but we will not let his campaign, or any other groups or individuals, succeed in running elections by resorting to anti-Semitic tropes. Join us now in changing the tide of our country and proving that anti-Semitism and hate have no place in our politics.
Valerie Habif and Joanie Shubin, Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon Atlanta