To everything there is a season. Except during a pandemic, when every day has felt like a Tuesday in June—or is it July? Like many others in quarantine, I’ve had a good run on domestic projects, including the ubiquitous sourdough bread-baking and straight-from-the-pantry dinners. Even before the tragic explosion in Beirut, I’d ordered Lebanese cookbooks on a whim and have been deep into kafta and kibbe.

Now, as pandemic season turns into election season and there’s a real focus, a real date called Sept. 1, I should be poking my head out of the sand. However, as I ponder the candidates vying to replace Joe Kennedy as representative in my district, the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District, I feel as if I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. 

Perhaps the most inscrutable candidate is Ihssane Leckey, an  ambitious former Wall Street regulator, who’s articulated a noble fight against Wall Street bankers. As a true democratic socialist, she has established her social justice bona fides with her personal immigration narrative, from working-class Morocco to mopping restaurant floors in America, to a degree from Boston University, then the purchase of a high-end Brookline condo. Hers is a hard-earned, rags-to-riches-becomes-Robin-Hood story. She’s intelligent. Compassionate. Out to “dismantle every oppressive system that denies us basic necessities to live.” It sounds too good to be true—because it is.

Leckey is a supporter of BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement that urges the public, governments and corporations to end trade with Israel and Israeli companies, and to effectively excommunicate Israel and its universities from international communities. The BDS movement promotes itself under the heading of “non-violent” criticism of Israeli policy. In truth, BDS is a bullying and intimidating organization, financially and ideologically involved with official terror groups. BDS promotes hate rhetoric and violence against Israelis and systematically bullies and sabotages Jews who support Israel—or any Jews, for that matter. BDS is active in the U.S. but has been outlawed in many countries, including Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, Britain, France and Austria. 

When singer Justin Bieber performed in Tel Aviv, BDS activists threatened that his “Jew manager will die.” University of Michigan professor John Cheney-Lippold upheld BDS directives when he rescinded his offer of a letter of recommendation to a student intending to study in Israel. BDS activists at UCLA blocked the nomination of a Jewish student to the judicial council of the student union because of her Jewish identity.

Leckey has been coy about BDS when convenient. In fact, “Meg,” a campaigner for Leckey who recently texted me out of the blue,  articulated Leckey’s pretense of BDS aspeaceful protest.” In one interview, Leckey provided a squirm of an answer to the question of rising antisemitism. She stridently complained about the “age-old double-loyalty trope lobbed at Jewish people.” Nevertheless, her associate and staunch supporter, the irascible Linda Sarsour, claims that Jews “masquerade as progressives” and “always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

When I grew up in Baltimore in the 1950s and ’60s, my father, more than a little sensitized as one of the handful of Jews allowed in his class at Johns Hopkins University, used to point out the judiciously placed words in the real estate ads in The Baltimore Sun. This “exclusive neighborhood,” or this “traditional neighborhood,” meant no Jews, African Americans or Italians need inquire. Leckey is sly enough to code her website for people who know how to interpret. The site says: “No donations from pro-Israel lobby accepted.” “Pro-Israel lobby” refers to one thing: the age-old antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging insidious Jewish efforts to dominate seats of power. Media, banks, government. Benjamins.

I don’t doubt Leckey’s sincerity or her passion. I do wish her social justice were more just. And instead of wishing rabbit holes were NIMBY (not in my backyard), I will say, please, no rabbit holes, NIMDF—not in my District 4.

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