October 17, 2018

CA Dem State Assembly Candidate Under Fire for Praising Farrakhan and Other Anti-Israel Comments

Maria Estrada, who is running in the for state assembly in Assembly District 63 of southeastern Los Angeles, is under fire from Jewish organizations for her praise of Farrakhan and other anti-Semitic comments.

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party wrote in a Facebook post about how Estrada once praised Farrakhan’s sermons on Facebook and compared Israel to the Nazis.

“On May 10, 2017 she posted a cartoon replacing the Magen David on the Israeli flag with the swastika of the Nazis, but the next day she apologized for her post,” the Progressive Zionists wrote. “However, on October 6, 2017 she claimed non-Jews could not be Zionists without being influenced by Jewish friends or loved ones. In this same exchange, she commented that she ‘enjoys listening to Farrakhan’s sermons’, as well as claiming Democrats turn a blind eye to Palestinians, and justify it by bringing up the Holocaust. As if what happened 70 years ago justifies what is happening now.’”

Farrakhan, of course, has a lengthy record of vile anti-Semitic comments, including referring to Jews as the “Synagogue of Satan” and promulgating the conspiracy theory that Israelis and Zionists were behind the 9/11 terror attacks.

When asked by The Forward about her praise of Farrakhan, Estrada used the “I am anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic” defense.

“Listening to Farrakhan doesn’t equate to being anti-Semitic,” Estrada said. “There is no doubt he is wrong on many issues, including Judaism. Listen to him speak on the American media, imperialism and several other issues.”

Additionally, on July 10 Estrada posted a screenshot of the definition of genocide while writing “#FreePalestine” on Facebook. She wrote in another comment, “The argument from Zionists is that the number of Palestinians has grown. Apparently they aren’t killing enough Palestinians for them to consider it a genocide.”

The Progressive Zionists have called on Estrada to drop out of the race.

“Maria Estrada’s repeated expressions of anti-Semitism disqualifies her from seeking public office,” they wrote. “We call on Maria Estrada to resign from this race, apologize for her blatant anti-Semitism, and take the necessary time to consider her harmful and hateful words.”

Other Jewish organizations have criticized Estrada’s statements.

“We are deeply disturbed by Maria Estrada’s comments praising Farrakhan, an avowed anti-Semite who leads a group that traffics in hate not just towards Jews but also the LGBTQ community,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles Regional Director Amanda Susskind said in a statement sent to the Journal. “Despite his continuing popularity among his loyal followers, Farrakhan’s views about Jews put him far outside of the mainstream.  Such hatred should not be difficult to denounce. We hope that Ms. Estrada will denounce him for the bigot he has shown himself to be.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper and consultant Dr. Harold Brackman wrote in a July 10 Journal op-ed, “Like Farrakhan and other anti-Semites before him, Estrada has taken a page from Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish playbook and invoked ‘God’s Chosen People’ to justify her vilification of Jews, not just Zionists. She apparently took no notice that Farrakhan’s hateful dog whistle also transcends the racial chasm between Black Nationalists and White racist anti-Semites who marched in Charlottesville this past August. Alt-right Charlottesville guru Richard Spencer wants to meet with Farrakhan, to work together toward ‘the sort of self-determination we and the broader Alt-Right support.’”

American Jewish Committee Director of Political Outreach Julie Rayman also rejected Estrada’s “anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism” defense.

“The Israeli government’s policies, like the policies of any government, are of course subject to criticism,” Rayman said. “Yet the use of Nazi imagery and bigoted tropes against Jews crosses a line into something far more sinister. Ms. Estrada’s comments and posts should be condemned by all people of good will.”

Estrada has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Estrada is currently part of a runoff election with incumbent Democrat Anthony Rendon, the Assembly speaker.