How Silicon Valley congressional candidates think antisemitism, Israel-Hamas War should be addressed

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Silicon Valley congressional candidates speak at Palo Alto forum
Five of 11 candidates vying to replace Congresswoman Anna Eshoo gathered in Palo Alto for a community forum.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Five of 11 candidates vying to replace Congresswoman Anna Eshoo gathered in Palo Alto for a community forum.

The Jewish Community Relations Council hosted the event Wednesday night at the Oshman Family JCC.

Zack Bodner, President of Oshman Family JCC, and Tyler Gregory, CEO of JCRC, moderated the event.

"Because this is a chance to elect a new candidate potentially a generation in the seat, we think this is a rare moment to draw attention to our community's issues as voters head to the poles," Gregory said.

The first question to candidates, including former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, was what role the U.S. government has in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

"There should be, and I have called for it, an extended humanitarian pause to enable the release of hostages," Liccardo said. "And to get the relief to two million Palestinians that are suffering horribly."

Former Saratoga city council member and mechanical engineer Rishi Kumar said not many countries have endured the extreme violence to the extent that Israel has.

"And it's time for Israel to enjoy peace and security within their own borders, and this is absolutely non-negotiable," Kumar said. "At the same time, we must work to build an economically viable and peaceful state for the Palestinian people."

VIDEO: Bay Area Rep. Anna Eshoo says she's not running for reelection after over 30 years in Congress

Silicon Valley Rep. Anna Eshoo - who earned notoriety for spearheading cybersecurity, innovation and high-tech legislation - plans to end her three-decade congressional career at the end of her term in 2024.

The second question to candidates - how would they address bipartisanship politics in Washington?

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian's approach is finding common ground.

"When I was pursing renewable energy, I had republican colleagues who weren't all that engaged on climate change or air quality but when I talk about the economic development benefits of renewable energy in their districts they were there," Simitian said.

Candidates also answered questions from the audience, including how Congress should address antisemitism on educational campuses.

Palo Alto City Council member and former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims said she has experience working with young people and their strong convictions.

"Today's youth were raised in a kinder, gentler America, which is good in many ways but it also means when they hear views that are abhorrent they can feel tremendously unsafe," Lythcott-Haims said. "The antidote to speech we don't like is actually more speech, we have to get better at teaching our young people how to have these difficult dialogues and be their role model."

Assemblymember Evan Low talked about prosecuting hate crimes.

"What we need to do is implement- number one is fully funding our state institutions to allow for greater staff to expedite these proceedings on substantiated cases. Number two we also need to strengthen our hate crime laws," Low said.

The JCRC invited candidates with at least 20 public endorsements and a minimum amount of donations made to their campaign.

JCC uploaded video of the forum here.

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