As an Orthodox Jewish feminist, I have a foot in two worlds. “What comes first, though?” someone once asked me. “Are you a feminist who happens to be a Jew or a Jew who happens to be a feminist?” I responded that I am both; I can’t choose which is more important to me, my religion or feminism. They are equal parts of my identity. It can, however, complicate who I support politically. The only candidate I’ve encountered so far that meets all of my criteria is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and I would definitely back her if she ran for president.
The Middle East Crisis will definitely be a deciding factor in the 2012 presidential election. As a Jew, Israel is very close to my heart, and I will only back a candidate who supports Israel with every fiber of his/her being. Debbie Wasserman Schultz states emphatically on her website that she is “a staunch supporter of the State of Israel and her citizens’ right to live in peace and security.” Many politicians, especially liberals, criticize Israel, but Wasserman Schultz understands that Israel and America have a symbiotic relationship that must be valued. She also knows that it is possible to have peace in the Middle East; however, both the Israelis and Palestinians have to be truly willing to make honest negotiations.
While it doesn’t look like women’s issues will be a major aspect of the upcoming election, it is very important to me personally. As a woman, feminist, and human, I will only support a candidate who wholeheartedly believes that women deserve equal rights. Wasserman Schultz advocates for equality in the workplace, and voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
As a female, I closely analyze candidates’ opinions on women’s health. Reproductive rights are the core of any truly feminist candidate, and Wasserman Schultz fits the bill: she supports women’s right to have access to birth control, and is pro-choice. Because I am Jewish, breast cancer awareness is especially important to me; the risk of contracting the illness is 32% higher for Jewish women than those of the general population. Wasserman Schultz is a breast cancer survivor who has supported legislation that educates girls and women about their bodies, especially regarding breast health and early detection.
She also supports gay marriage and wants the Defense of Marriage Act repealed. LGBTQ rights are extremely important to me, since I believe that every human being deserves the same treatment under the law. I spent numerous hours campaigning for the passage of the gay marriage bill in New York, and I will happily back a candidate who supports it, too.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz represents everything that I’m looking for in a presidential candidate: pro-Israel, pro-women’s health, pro-choice, and pro-LGBTQ rights. I know it’s an odd grouping of political positions, but I’ve always been a little unusual in my views. I know that Wasserman Schultz isn’t running for president any time soon, but I look forward to the day that she does.