OP/ED - As we approach election day, we see races being more hotly contested.
Perhaps, none more so than those competitive races in California. What is concerning is that competitive races too often mean divisive races, and all too alarmingly the divisiveness is along racial and ethnic lines.
This has been none more apparent than in the Los Angeles City Council where comments made by councilmembers, though not running for office in this election, have sent shockwaves through the city with waves crashing in districts with candidates who are running, such as in District 13 where even incumbent Mitch O'Farrell has had to fend off unwarranted attacks.
Not surprisingly, both mayoral candidates Bass and Caruso have come out sharply in opposition to the scandalous exchange of speech having been made public from the recordings of Nury Martinez, Ron Herrera, Kevin DeLeon, and Gil Cedillo. Speech that was so outraging the former two have resigned in disgrace in the aftermath of the remarks, and the latter two are still under fierce criticism to do so.
Yet while the focus and attention are understandably on these individuals who have caused the City of Los Angeles to reel, just as ballots dropped in an era-defining midterm election, one should not think that discrimination in the nation’s 2nd largest city is relegated to the divide amongst Blacks and Latinos. Even in those same infamous recordings Nury Martinez was heard with slights towards the Armenian community as well, and in Los Angeles a large portion of the Armenian community are Jewish. Such comments only compounding an already combustible situation.
Furthermore, amid the cries for Kevin DeLeon and Gil Cedillo to resign from their LA city councilmember positions in order to allow the city a better chance at healing, there have been other deep cuts recently inflicted to the Jewish community and demonstrating that antisemitism is all too prevalent, as well. Most notably have been the comments by Kanye West and Donald Trump using heightened threat-level language such as "DefCon 3" and statements by the former president that the “Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel before it is too late.”
For as much as the former president makes claims of loving the Jewish people and pointing to his daughter and her family, his statements are not at all aiding to bring harmony amidst already divisive times. Meanwhile, on the international front, antisemitism is at an all-time high, especially with Putin attacking the civilian populations in the Ukraine. Populations with large Jewish percentages of the populace.
Yet, despite the local, national, and international attacks against Jews being heightened all that seems to be heard is a deafening silence in raising awareness and drawing attention to what is happening. In this election cycle, it can’t be reiterated enough that while “kitchen table” issues are likely to drive the vote, it shouldn’t be at the expense of forgetting the importance of our fundamental values for all people groups and all human beings.
Let’s not forget the values on which we were founded—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nor let us exclude those values which we seek to shape our future — equity, inclusion, and diversity. As LA seeks to heal, as our nation needs to heal, and as our world still recovers globally from the pandemic, may this election cycle be one that finds unity in those values for each and every person—regardless of age, size, developmental stage, economic status, skin color, geographic location, ethnicity, political affiliation, gender, or any other criteria that all too often has us turning to attack one another.
(Mihran Kalaydjian is the Chair Education Public Health / Homelessness Committee Woodland Hills - Warner Center Neighborhood Council [email protected])