Alan Zimmerman (VA): ‘It Is Morally Obscene’
Zimmerman was president of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville during the Unite the Right march in August 2017. Zimmerman remembers standing on the steps, watching armed neo-Nazis shouting “Heil Hitler.” He was “not surprised that there is anti-Semitism in America—I’m not naïve—but that it could be displayed so brazenly and even proudly in the streets of an American city was frankly shocking.”
Do you think it’s possible for Democrats and Republicans to ever agree on the facts around the president’s actions?
I think they already agree on most of the facts, which are clear and incontrovertible. It has been proven beyond any doubt that Trump conditioned a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky on an investigation of the Bidens. I also think it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that military aid was conditioned on this as well, but there is less direct evidence to show that. I just think most Republicans are unwilling to admit these things publicly for a variety of political reasons.
What are your thoughts overall on impeachment?
I have plenty of thoughts, but I’ll focus on one. The inspiring stories of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Colonel Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill are reminders of the importance of immigration to the success of America. In particular, as Jews we should be mindful of the fact that they both came here as children in Jewish refugee families without a penny in their pockets. We should think about that as we form our own responses to the refugee crisis today. The Yanoviches and Vindmans of tomorrow are the Central American refugees of today begging to come into our country because they fear for their lives. It is not only morally obscene what the U.S. is doing in response to their need, but the intelligence, bravery and integrity shown by these witnesses during the impeachment hearings establishes that this policy is self-defeating.
Do the impeachment proceedings hurt or improve Trump’s chances for re-election?
I think they overall hurt his chances, but in a limited way. I think the 2020 election will turn on other issues, primarily health care and the ability of the Democratic candidate to create and inspire a new progressive coalition that continues to include minority communities and college-educated boomers, but that also inspires young people and actually gets them out to vote.