(photo credit: Courtesy)
SAN FRANCISCO – A Californian aiming to be the first representative of Hmong
descent in the US Congress expressed strong support for Israel in an interview
Thursday with The Jerusalem Post.
Democrat Blong Xiong is running in the
newly formed 21st district that covers Fresno and Bakersfield, a region that is
at least half Latino but also has many Jews. The primary will be held June 5 and
the top-two finishers, regardless of party, will face off on November
Blong said that, if elected, he would want to focus on foreign affairs
and visit Israel. He expressed an affinity for the Jewish state and the Jewish
people in Israel and the US.
“I have always admired Israel and its
people,” he said. “They are a great story. My people were nomadic and went from
country to country. When we came to the US, we looked at the success of the
American Jewish community as a model.”
The Hmong people are from the
hills of Southeast Asia.
They fought with the US in the Vietnam War, and
were rewarded by being brought to the US, where they mostly settled in Fresno
and Minneapolis. Blong came to the US at age five.
The candidate said
that, based on his knowledge, he was not in a position to give Israel advice.
But he said it was important to prevent Iran’s nuclearization.
the US position that we must work diplomatically but keep all options
available,” he said. “The case of North Korea shows we would be misguided to
think only talks are the solution. It is important to do what is necessary to
keep the world safe.”
Blong’s opponents in the race include Republican
David Valadao, who is a first-term member of the California assembly, and
Democrat John Hernandez.
Because the seat is a new one created by
redistricting, both parties are taking the race very seriously.
Fenenbock, a strategist for Blong, said his own Jewish heritage was one reason
he decided to support him.
“He is pro-Israel, and Israel needs all the
friends it can get,” Fenenbock said.
“Israel could especially use someone
like Blong, who can carry a large banner for Israel to new populations in the