July 13, 2018
The Anti-Defamation League does not participate in partisan political activity, but that does not mean we should ignore racism or anti-Semitism on the campaign trail.
Maria Estrada, who is running for a seat on the California State Assembly (63rd District), has attacked Zionism and Israel in a manner that raises concerns about anti-Semitism, and has expressed troubling support for notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
It’s impossible to ignore the undercurrent of anti-Semitism running through a number of Estrada’s comments about Zionism and Israel. Although criticism of Israel is entirely legitimate and is not inherently anti-Semitic, Estrada consistently ignores the difference between Israelis and Jews, and has argued that Israeli policies and Zionism more generally are inspired by a sense of Jewish supremacism and disregard for others. For example, on December 8, 2017, in reaction to Israeli actions in Gaza, Estrada wrote, “These are God’s ‘chosen people,’” referring (presumably ironically) to a biblical term for Jews. She continued, “Zionism, like any other religious fanaticism is wrong [sic].” This type of anti-Zionist rhetoric has been used by many anti-Semites as an attack on the Jewish religion as a whole.
In another post captured and archived by an activist group, she went even further, writing, “Anyone who believes they are one of ‘God’s chosen people’ automatically feels superior and justified and all they do [sic]. Religious fanaticism is used to justify apartheid and crimes against Palestinians and no one should be ok with it.”
On May 14, 2018, after calling on her “Jewish friends” to denounce “the terrorism being inflicted on the Palestinian people in the name of Zionism,” she wrote, “Zionists are the f---ing worst.” In November 2017 she wrote that “Zionists in America should have to immediately give up their land to whatever tribe it originally belonged to.”
Estrada’s repeated insinuations that support for Israel is a form of religious chauvinism is offensive and demeaning to the large number of American Jews for whom some form of Zionism is part of their cultural identity.
Meanwhile, Estrada has also posted social media comments allegedly expressing admiration for well-known anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. While those comments are no longer available publicly, Estrada has confirmed in the media that she made them, including a post stating that she “enjoys listening to Farrakhan’s sermons.” She prevaricated on the issue of Farrakhan and anti-Semitism, writing that “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.” This denial rings hollow, given that Farrakhan routinely alleges that Jews control the American media and foreign policy.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Anti-Defamation League does not support or oppose candidates for political office.