Congressional hopeful Max Rose: Public service is a real core tenet of the Jewish faith

Former U.S. Army veteran Max Rose is setting his eyes on the only House seat held by a Republican in New York City. With the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Rose is hoping to deliver on his party’s desire to flip control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.

On Tuesday, after 11 months of campaigning, Rose clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination to take on Rep. Dan Donovan in the fall.

Rose discussed his Jewish upbringing and policy positions in an interview with Jewish Insider while doing door-to-door campaigning in the Northerleigh Park neighborhood on Staten Island on Sunday.

“Since my great-grandfather came here from the Soviet Union, we’ve been New York Jews with all of the religious commitment that comes with that, but also the cultural understandings – a commitment to family and education, a commitment to your community, and a commitment to public service, which is something that is all too often not acknowledged as a real core tenet of the Jewish faith,” Rose said.

“But when you grow up in New York as a Jew and then you go — I went to undergrad in Connecticut and then graduate school in England, you think, ‘Oh my God, there must be 500 million Jews, right? Everybody knows Jews.’ It was not until I joined the military that you begin to understand just actually how few Jews there are in the world,” he continued. “But no matter where I went, despite that low number, whether it was Georgia or El Paso, Texas or England, there was always a Jewish community there for me, who welcomed me with open arms, offering a place for dinner or a place to worship. And that has always been an amazing experience. And I am extraordinarily grateful for my faith.”

The New York 11th Congressional District contains a large bloc of Jewish voters. An estimated 18% of the general population is Jewish, according to data based on the 2010 census.

Rose first visited Israel in 2009. “I think that, all too often, we just focus on the politics and the geopolitics,” Rose said about the Jewish State. “People often forget or they don’t acknowledge publicly just how gorgeous that country is, just how beautiful the people are, and how wonderful the culture is. I had an absolutely wonderful time.”

At a time of partisan politics and division, and as recent polls show a decline in support for Israel among young Democrats, Rose pledges to be both a proud Democrat and a proud supporter of Israel. “As a Jew and as a veteran, I will bring an understanding of what Israel’s role is in the world, as well as an understanding of the importance of the Jewish faith, to advance two things. One, to undeniably make sure that we are supporting Israel into the next generation. It is so important for a variety of reasons. People always forget the importance of Israel economically speaking, and from a national security perspective. But also to advance the cause of peace because for all of the discussions about the ways in which there are significant divisions, I do come back to my core belief that humans want very similar things. They want safety and security and a bright future for their families. And I know that Jews also have a commitment to peace, they want that. And that’s what I think we need to focus our attention on.”

On the Iran nuclear deal: “I do not come to this discussion with any misnomers, any false beliefs about who is sitting on the opposite end of the negotiating table. Iran has supported terrorist activities throughout the world, and especially in the Middle East region, and they have yet to concede the fact that Israel has a right to exist. On the same hand though, I do not want to see a nuclear arms race in the Middle East either. And I certainly want to make sure that whenever we come to the table for negotiations, we are immediately considering how do we ensure Israel’s security, which I do not think the Iran deal did nearly enough. It did not do it nearly enough. We should have equipped them with far more assets than what we are currently doing under the pretenses of that agreement. And what I will never do is try to achieve short-term political gain to the detriment of long-term security in the region, and for the Israeli people.”

On Syria: “The solution is not rooted in another Iraq war. The solution will not be found by deploying another contingent of 100,000 troops for 10 to 15 years. On the same end, the solution is not to be found in isolationism either. We need to push negotiations. This is a regional conflict. It involves Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and it involves Iraq, certainly as a consequence of ISIS. We need to unite around ensuring three things. One, that this ceases to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world where hundreds of thousands of people are dying every year. Two, that it ceases to be a power vacuum that an entity like ISIS can emerge within, which is something that none of us want. And that, no matter what happens, Israel’s security is not impaired. Israel’s security cannot be impaired because the elephant in the room is that if you see Iran pushing into the area, that’s a very, very small short distance to Israel. That’s a very big deal. So if we focus on those three things, I have the utmost confidence that with strong American leadership we can end this crisis and achieve peace.”

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