Bud Hockenberg (92), a Democrat from Des Moines IA, is the former president of the Des Moines Jewish Federation and a founding member of what is now the Republican Jewish Coalition, as well as of Iowans Supporting Israel, a bipartisan group. He is a fourth-generation Des Moines resident and former president of the Conservative synagogue Tifereth Israel. He is still a “very active” attorney and recently attended his 52nd consecutive AIPAC conference.
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 the rise of anti-Semitism in our country?
On a scale of one to ten, I would put it at a six. But that will probably move to an eight because of the presidential campaign and the competition on the Democratic side for the nomination. I believe that the group in the House of Representatives that includes Representative Ilhan Omar will have significant influence on the selection of the candidate, and on the Democratic platform and campaign.
So, do you believe that groups on the left and in Congress, such as “the squad,” are driving the rise in anti-Semitism?
I would say that American Jewish leadership is slow in recognizing the “squad” problem and their influence on key Democratic presidential candidates. In a recent interview in The New Yorker, prominent Jewish scholar Deborah Lipstadt equates the threat of anti-Semitism on the left and right. We need to pay attention to that. I would also add that many distinguished observers have said that being anti-Israel is anti-Semitism.
What about Trump’s rhetoric, especially on white nationalism? Do you think that has contributed to the problem?
Absolutely not. The white nationalists such as David Duke have always been anti-Semitic. The idea that Trump suddenly created or influenced or accelerated this is just mythology.
Do you think the problem of anti-Semitism is being addressed adequately by the presidential candidates?
No, there’s been an inattention to the left, to groups like Antifa, which has intimidated Jewish college students. The progressive-socialist academia at the premier college campuses in America has indoctrinated the last two generations to a philosophy that is a step toward the extinction of Israel.
What are the main reasons you’re supporting Donald Trump?
Here are Trump’s major assets: the safety and security of America—part of that is his cancellation of the Iran deal; the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our embassy there; the assets of our economy—this is one of the best economies we’ve had probably in the past 50 years; and the internal security of America—the southern border is the best we’ve had.