How a small town family shaped my views on the Jewish Community

A courageous voice for the tolerance and noble purpose that made America great and that should characterize its leaders. Op-ed.

Vernon Jones ,

Georgia State capitol building
Georgia State capitol building
iStock

Note: This article was cancelled by the Atlanta Jewish Times. Arutz Sheva is proud to post it.

Politicians these days consider standing with Jewish Americans and Israel as detrimental to their political careers. These politicians – Democrats for the most part – are afraid to take a stand against anti-Semitism. They refuse to acknowledge what our Jewish brethren have accomplished for our country, and they refuse to acknowledge Israel as a nation. We cannot tolerate this behavior in the United States of America any longer.

When I am elected governor of Georgia next year, I will proudly support and recognize what our Jewish communities mean to our extraordinary state, regardless of how controversial my political opponents may deem it.

Our Jewish communities have positively impacted my life for as long as I can remember, and I have worked my entire political career to repay that debt. My relationship with our nation’s Jewish communities started when I was just a child, and I saw firsthand the special relationship that African American communities shared with our Jewish brothers and sisters.

I was raised with my siblings in the small town of Laurinburg, North Carolina. My parents were farmers who did their best to provide for us. We never had the nicest luxuries in life, but they ensured that we had food in our bellies and shirts on our backs. Laurinburg was also the home to the Risk family – a kind Jewish family that settled down in our neck of North Carolina. The Risk family owned a merchant store in town, which was common for small rural communities at the time.

Despite my parents being simple farmers, Mr. and Mrs. Risk always treated them with the utmost respect. My parents would often take us to the Risk family’s store to buy us a new suit of clothes. When Mr. Risk would take my measurements, I can remember how kind and caring he was to make sure I looked nice in the clothing he tailored for me. He genuinely made me feel like royalty. And when our parents couldn’t afford the clothes, Mr. Risk would tell them to just pay their debts when they could afford it. That meant so much to us, and I have never forgotten the Risk family’s kindness and generosity.

In fact, they are the reason I pushed to recognize Jewish heritage in my time as an elected official. It was a goal of mine to ensure the hardships and the culture of our Jewish communities were recognized when I was elected as Chief Executive Officer of Dekalb County, Georgia.

Soon after I was elected to the office, I established an annual Holocaust commemorative service in Dekalb County to honor and respect our Jewish communities and the journeys that they made to reach the United States. We must recognize the atrocities that occurred in the past and ensure that similar events never happen again. Too many Americans in the 21st century have no idea the true horrors that Jewish communities suffered through under the terror of Nazi occupation, and we must educate future generations so that history does not repeat itself.

And before I stepped down as the top executive of Dekalb County, I worked to introduce an Anne Frank exhibit in an effort to educate my constituents on the Holocaust along with the trials and tribulations that Jewish communities faced in the early 20th century. When organizing the exhibit, the owners of the building where the exhibit was originally intended to be located turned me down because they didn’t want it located there.

I refused to let that deter me. Rather than rely on more building management that I could not trust, I had the exhibit showcased at the Historic Dekalb Courthouse. I wanted to ensure that the public had open access to the Anne Frank exhibit so that they would be better educated about the tragic events of the past.

I cannot overstate how much Jewish Americans have impacted my life as a child and now as an adult. The interactions I had growing up around the Risk family encouraged me as an elected official to spotlight our nation’s Jewish communities, and those interactions helped turn me into the man I am today.

Too many politicians – Democrats for the most part – no longer respect Jewish Americans, Israel, or our Jewish allies overseas. I am surprised and quite frankly taken back by how the Democrats have cut and run on our nation’s Jewish communities and Israel.

In May earlier this year, Democrats in the House of Representatives successfully blocked legislation that would have imposed sanctions on foreign entities that provided assistance to Hamas. To put that into perspective, the U.S. government officially recognizes Hamas as a “Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” and the terrorist group has made a habit out of frequently targeting Israel. Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel earlier in the summer, but Democrats appeared perfectly fine with allowing the terrorist organization to remain unscathed after such a vicious and disgusting attack.

Rather than support Israel, several prominent Democrats attacked the nation for daring to fight back after the Hamas barrage. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) called Israel’s retaliation “an act of terrorism.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) even appeared to tweet that Israel was an “apartheid state.” And Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) attacked her fellow Americans for simply defending Israel. This is the Democratic Party that America is dealing with today, and I cannot tolerate this bigotry any longer.

When I am elected as governor, I promise to take my experiences with me and recognize our fellow Jewish Americans and their heritage. We often hear about Democrats pushing for “sanctuary states” across the country. Why not make Georgia a sanctuary state for every Jewish family in this great nation? We will not tolerate bigotry and anti-Semitism when I am elected.

I honestly feel that African Americans and our nation’s Jewish communities have a lot in common. We both faced prejudice in the past, but through hard work and determination, we pushed through the stereotypes and the figurative glass ceilings to earn the respect of our fellow countrymen. And we cannot allow the demons of our past to return and derail the progress we have made over so many years.

Our Jewish communities have a bright future in the United States of America, and as the next governor of Georgia, I will ensure that every Jewish family feels safe and secure in my state. Anti-Semitism is an evil ideology of the past, and that is where I plan to keep it – regardless of what Democrats and others may think.



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