Queens City Council Candidate Jaslin Kaur today declined to answer if she supported the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel – a key question she was asked in a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) survey in order to get the controversial but powerful organization’s support in the June 22 primary.
Kaur, 25, a first-generation South Asian-American whose parents are Sikh Punjabi immigrants, is running in Queens 23rd City Council district to succeed retiring Councilman Barry Grodenchik.
The district is about 35% South and East Asian-American but also has a sizable Jewish population. It includes the neighborhoods of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.
Several sources told PoliticsNY, that Kaur, a DSA member, answered yes to the following questions the DSA asked all candidates citywide seeking the organization’s support:
When asked by PoliticsNY what her answers were to these questions, she responded with an emailed statement that she opposes all laws that would criminalize nonviolent protests.
“I don’t believe that councilmembers should be taking trips around the world funded by groups with special interests. When I’m in office, my travel schedule will take me block by block around District 23,” she said, refusing to elaborate further.
Kaur recently received the support of several progressive lawmakers including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Queens State Sen. Mike Gianaris.
She also has the support of the progressive Jews For Racial & Economic Justice and other left-leaning Jewish leaders. She consulted with both before putting out a recent plan titled “Standing up to antisemitism and hate violence,” according to a story earlier this month in The Jewish Forward.
But several of her opponents in the nine-candidate race said they feel the questionnaire is antisemitic in that it singles out Israel.
“I quite honestly can’t make sense as to why one country would be singled out [on the DSA survey]. It doesn’t make sense to have that double standard on one country in particular, and not anyone that’s basically saying to me, you know, don’t travel to North Korea or any other country,” said Linda Lee, a Korean-American, who recently received U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s endorsement.
“I’ve already been to Israel. I don’t know if that takes me out of the running automatically but you know it’s actually very important for me as a Christian. I would definitely absolutely go back. There’s something to be said about traveling abroad. It helps you see the bigger picture and I think that is relevant to how we lead on a local level as well,” she added.
Candidate Debra Markell, who is Jewish, said she has problems with both the DSA and the BDS movement,
“This is a very diverse district and I work with everybody. Anybody with ties to and supports BDS should not be running,” she said.