Increasing figures

Shomari Figures joins pro-Israel chorus in packed Alabama Democratic primary field

‘Israel is an ally. It always has been, and always will be. The United States has to be there for its allies, just as we expect our allies to be there for us,’ the former Department of Justice staffer said

Shomari Figures

Figures for Congress website

Shomari Figures, a former Department of Justice staffer running in the crowded primary for Alabama’s new Democratic-leaning 2nd Congressional District, is joining other competitive candidates in the race in staking out a pro-Israel stance.

“Israel is an ally. It always has been, and always will be. The United States has to be there for its allies, just as we expect our allies to be there for us,” Figures said in an interview with Jewish Insider last week.

The U.S., Figures continued, also benefits from its relationship with Israel, with Israel serving as a key to regional stability — ”Israel’s security is paramount to the United States’ security… because we have mutual threats.” 

Figures and state Reps. Anthony Daniels and Napoleon Bracy are seen as the most competitive candidates in the wide Democratic field. Daniels and Bracy have also staked out pro-Israel positions, even publicly pulling for endorsements from AIPAC.

Figures said he had worked on security assistance packages to Israel while serving as a staffer for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and said he’d be supportive of continuing that assistance, including through the still-pending supplemental aid bill.

He added that Israel, in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, has the “right to defend itself and mitigate the threat, and do everything it could to secure the release of the hostages that were taken, do everything that it could to remain sure that this [could not] happen again.”

He said that he would “ultimately like to get to a place where the violence comes to an end” and that he has “every confidence” that the U.S. is working to achieve that. 

He demurred when asked what, if any, preconditions — like freeing the hostages or removing Hamas from power — there should be to bringing the war to an end, noting that he does not have access to confidential information on the conflict, but trusts U.S. leadership to make “informed decisions and informed approaches to how we go about this.”

Figures, a former deputy chief of staff to Attorney General Merrick Garland, said that experience made him “keenly aware” of the rising antisemitism in the United States.

“This is a real threat. Hate crimes — standing up against hate crimes — is something that is in my DNA,” he said, pointing to both his work with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to prosecute those responsible for hate crimes and his work in the Senate on funding packages that included security grants for religious institutions and nonprofits.

“I think the federal government has to be willing and committed to protecting its people,” Figures said. “There’s no greater responsibility that the federal government has than to protect the people…. So I’m a big proponent of doing everything we can to protect our Jewish citizens, and all of our citizens here in the United States who are unfortunately subjected to a higher risk of… hate crimes.”

Figures’ father, an Alabama state senator, led a lawsuit that bankrupted the Ku Klux Klan. He said that history of fighting hate has helped drive both his campaign and his life.

“I was raised and grounded in the belief that you do what you can to make your community safer and better places to live for you and your children and others around you,” he told JI.

Figures is leaning on his experience in the federal government to help him stand out from the crowded field — he served as a White House staffer in the Obama administration in addition to his time with the Department of Justice and Brown’s Senate office. That experience, he argued, gives him the skills and knowledge to get results for the district.

The district, which includes the state capital of Montgomery, was recently redrawn by court order from a deeply Republican one to one that favors Democrats, with a significant Black population.

“This district that we’re running for is an example of what happens when government works the way it’s supposed to work. Government stands up for the rights of all of its people to make sure that America is living up to the promises made in the Constitution,” he said. “That’s why we’re in this race, because we believe that government can do good.”

Although he’s spent much of his recent career in Washington, Figures told JI that his childhood in the Alabama district “prepared me to go on and have the career working at the highest levels of federal government.”

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