Beth Bendheim (VA): ‘I’m More Scared Now’
Beth Bendheim (50), a Democrat from Richmond, VA, was the development director for a Jewish day school in Richmond prior to working in finance. She also held public relations and marketing positions in the sports world, including with a cycling race originally sponsored by Donald Trump, known as the Tour de Trump. Bendheim was active in the 2018 Virginia Congressional campaign of Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who defeated Republican incumbent Dave Brat.
We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.
How concerned are you about rising anti-Semitism in this country?
I’m very, very concerned about it. Growing up I knew anti-Semitism existed, but I was never scared. I think I’m more scared now because I’m going to be sending a child off to college, and I’m concerned about what’s going to happen to him, what kinds of anti-Semitism will play out on college campuses.
So you think college campuses are particularly concerning when it comes to anti-Semitism?
Yes, I do. I really do. When I was in college at Ohio State a long time ago, we had hate speech written on our doors as Jewish girls. But we didn’t do anything about it. We just were like, okay, screw them. But now I think there’s just such a rise in hate in general, and a rise in ignorance, that people are just going to latch on to any kind of hatred.
Many people primarily blame Trump’s rhetoric for fueling white nationalism and the rise of anti-Semitism. Do you agree?
I think people feel that they’re allowed to say things now that they wouldn’t have said before because of the president’s rhetoric. He’s just so mean and they think they can act the same way. They probably already had hate in their hearts and now they feel more emboldened to act on it.
Do you think the far left and supporters of movements like BDS are also contributing to the problem?
Yes. I don’t support the BDS movement. And I do think they’re fanning the flames. There are plenty of other countries that do horrible things, and I don’t think it’s fair to call out Israel.
Do you think any of the presidential candidates are particularly strong in addressing anti-Semitism?
I think they’re all saying the right things—that they won’t tolerate hate of any kind. I do appreciate that Amy Klobuchar has pulled herself away from Representative Ilhan Omar. But I don’t like that Bernie Sanders has Linda Sarsour as a surrogate. She’s a Palestinian-American activist, an outspoken critic of Israel and a BDS supporter. I do not like that. Bernie doesn’t support the BDS movement, but he has a surrogate who does. I find that interesting and frustrating at the same time.