Julia Salazar, a Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate, has identified herself as a Jewish immigrant. But other information suggests she was born in Miami and led a Christian campus group just a few years ago.
After reports of discrepancies in her background went public, Salazar updated her website and said a staffer had made a mistake in the way a sentence was worded. She also pointed to what she called inaccuracies in a report by an online news magazine report.
Critics say unanswered questions still remain. But Salazar says it's all a misunderstanding and she has never misrepresented her heritage.
What is going on?
Prior to her political bid, Salazar wrote articles criticizing Israel for left-wing sites such as Mondoweiss, the Washington Free Beacon reported. She has also served as a senior editor for a blog associated with the Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions group.
Her profile in the Jewish magazine Forward cites Salazar’s “unique” Jewish background:
She was born in Colombia, and her father was Jewish, descended from the community expelled from medieval Spain. When her family immigrated to the United States, they had little contact with the American Jewish community, struggling to establish themselves financially.
Now that identity has propelled her into politics. The 27-year-old is now running for a New York State senate seat as a Democratic Socialist, one of a new generation of politicians who are racing to the left in the Trump era.
The online news magazine Tablet wrote a piece this week that asked: “Who is Julia Salazar?”
In an interview, Salazar’s brother reportedly told the publication he and his sister were born in Miami, and their father was not Jewish.
"There was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish...my father was not Jewish, we were not raised Jewish," he reportedly said.
In late 2013, Salazar was a pro-life, pro-Israel Christian and the leader of several Christian groups at Colombia University, the Washington Free Beacon stated. By 2014, she had apparently converted to Judaism and became vocally anti-Israel after a visit to the West Bank.
In response to the article, Salazar made a lengthy public statement.
"First, the piece implies that I have misrepresented my identity as an immigrant by claiming that I was born in Colombia. However, as I stated clearly in a transcribed interview with reporter Emma Whitford on May 5th, at the outset of my campaign, I made it crystal clear that I had been born in Miami," she said.
"At the time I was born, my parents had been living in Colombia, where my father was born and immigrated from, before settling permanently in Florida when I was still a small child," she continued. "The fact that my parents traveled with me between Colombia and the U.S. as a small child produced confusion for some people about where I was born."
Following the Tablet’s article, Salazar also wrote on Twitter that the piece was inaccurate.
Fox News’ Stephen Miller questioned her contention.
Salazar attributed the change to a mistake made by a staff member.