(JTA) — A Democratic candidate for the California State Assembly said Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians and offered her support for anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Maria Estrada, who is running in a district representing suburban Los Angeles, finished second in the June 5 primary with 28 percent to qualify for the November election. She will be vying for the seat against the incumbent, fellow Democrat Anthony Rendon, who also serves as the Assembly speaker.
In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted that Estrada posted last year on Facebook: “Democrats turn a blind eye to the genocide against Palestinians and justify it by bringing up the Holocaust. As if what happened 70 years ago justifies it. Anyone who believes they are one of ‘God’s chosen people’ automatically feels superior and justified in all they do. Religious fanaticism is used to justify apartheid and crimes against Palestinians and no one should be okay with it. #FreePalestine”
On Tuesday, Estrada posted a screenshot of a dictionary definition of the term genocide and wrote: “Because some people are unsure of the meaning of the term genocide because the number of people being murdered isn’t enough for them. #FreePalestine.”
She added in a 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 op-ed also said that Estrada tweeted that “I, for one, enjoy listening to Farrakhan’s sermons.”
Earlier this month, Estrada also used the hashtag #FreePalestine to back five women who left their Birthright Israel tour early “to protest the program’s bias and attempts to hide the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
In a July 6 statement, the Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party said in a statement that it was “concerned” about Estrada’s “public support of notorious homophobe and antisemite Louis Farrakhan and her repeated and extreme antisemitism in the guise of ‘criticism of Israel.’”
The statement pointed to other anti-Semitic Facebook posts, including one from May 10, 2017, in which Estrada posted a cartoon replacing the Star of David on the Israeli flag with a swastika — a post for which she apologized the following day — and a more recent post, on May 14, in which she criticized California Democratic Chair Eric Bauman for not keeping “your party, your religion and your people in check.”
“While we are not endorsing any candidate in this race, we must conclude that Maria Estrada’s repeated expressions of antisemitism disqualifies her from seeking public office,” the group said. “We call on Maria Estrada to resign from this race, apologize for her blatant antisemitism, and take the necessary time to consider her harmful and hateful words.”
In a statement to the Forward regarding her social media posts, Estrada said: “To be clear, I am anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitic. Listening to Farrakhan doesn’t equate to being anti-Semitic. 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.”