Despite retaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democrats saw a number of significant defeats in the Nov. 3 elections that will shrink their majority going into the 117th Congress.
One of the biggest upsets was by Republican Nicole Malliotakis, who defeated incumbent—although newly elected himself two years ago—Democratic Rep. Max Rose in New York’s 11th Congressional District.
Rose, 33, who was first elected to Congress in 2018, conceded to the New York State Assembly member on Nov. 12.
Out of 717,708 people who live in the congressional district, which covers all of Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn, there are approximately 80,000 Jews, or 11.84 percent, of the population.
Malliotakis, 40, expressed her appreciation for being elected to represent a congressional district that is demographically diverse, including within the Jewish community.
“We have Conservative, Orthodox … Sephardic … also Russian Jewish … we even have Cuban Jewish,” she said. “It’s a very, very diverse district, and I’m very fortunate to represent a district that brings together so many different communities.”
Malliotakis attributed votes from these segments of the Jewish population the result of her support for Israel, religious freedom and her willingness to take to task those she said “have not shown the same respect towards the Jewish community or towards Israel.”
Malliotakis was among a record number of Republican women who will be sworn into the House on Jan. 3.
“It’s refreshing to see more Republican women being elected to Congress,” she said. “When you look at the Socialist ‘Squad,’ we need conservative women who will counter what they are pushing. The messenger is important.”
Malliotakis has called for forming a “freedom squad” to counter fellow New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her allies in Congress. She touted her own record of voting for resolutions condemning BDS, calling out anti-Semitism and being critical of members of Congress such as “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for making anti-Semitic remarks.
‘Need to be vigilant and push back’ on Iran
On foreign policy, Malliotakis praised U.S. President Donald Trump’s actions on Israel and said that the U.S.-Israel relationship is important for economic, militarily and security reasons, and needs to be strengthened.
The Trump administration “really enhanced” the U.S.-Israel relationship, she said, citing the U.S. embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018 and building on the recent Abraham Accords.
She has been to Israel once, going in July 2019 with the National Council of Young Israel and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. She said she spent most of the time in Jerusalem.
She warned about the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America trying to get commitments earlier this year from New York City Council candidates through questionaries to them to join the anti-Israel BDS movement.
Malliotakis said she is “certainly concerned” about U.S. President-elect Joe Biden possibly re-entering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The United States withdrew from it in 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new sanctions in what the Trump administration has called a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Biden repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that America would re-enter the deal if Iran returns to compliance.
“We need to be vigilant and push back on that,” said Malliotakis, who declined to specify what could be done legislatively to stop such a move, only to say that at the moment, it’s about “being vociferous against it.”
‘I do believe there is a double standard’
Malliotakis is all too familiar about the rise in anti-Semitism in her state and region, where Jews have been targeted by recent sprees of hate crimes against Jews. As such, she focused on law and order during her campaign, which struck a chord among voters.
She also criticized New York’s bail-reform law, which allows for people charged with certain crimes to be released from jail prior to a trial without posting bail.
Touted as one of the hallmarks of New York’s criminal-justice reform, the bail law has come under fire, particularly in light of the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in New York City.
Furthermore, Malliotakis called out elected officials who have been giving a pass to those who, for example, celebrated Biden’s win in the streets but have cracked down on houses of worship and businesses, especially in Jewish neighborhood, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malliotakis said “they have not treated the Jewish community well throughout this process, and I do believe there is a double standard. That’s why you saw the Jewish community come out in droves and vote Republican because they feel they were being targeted, and that they were being treated differently by the mayor and the governor.”