Daniel Levin (FL): ‘Trump Has Made Hatred More Fashionable’
Daniel Levin (50), a Democrat from Boca Raton, FL, is a past president of the southeast region of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and served as a member of the Reform Movement’s Think Tank, a group focused on planning the movement’s future. He has also served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
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.
Do you think the presidential candidates are effectively addressing the problem of rising anti-Semitism?
I’m not sure any of the candidates have really addressed it in a meaningful way, other than to say it’s bad. I would love to hear the candidates talk about how they are going to counter bigotry; how they are going to try to create a tone in the United States that is embracing. I think candidates who talk about bringing everyone together—as opposed to “let me tell you what’s wrong with the other, let me tell you why half of America is the enemy”—are going to have the most success.
What factors do you think are contributing to the uptick in anti-Semitism?
I think it’s coming from a lot of different directions and in different flavors. You see anti-Semitism in the form of white nationalism and white supremacy, and in a sort of populist anti-Semitism that unfortunately resonates with our history. It also comes from the left in the form of anti-Zionism and the kind of intolerance that you see sometimes on college campuses where Jewish kids have, I think, a very difficult time sharing a sense of pride in the State of Israel because of the liberal zeitgeist.
Do you believe Trump’s rhetoric has fueled the rise in anti-Semitism?
I think the biggest danger from Trump is that he has made hatred fashionable because he practices it himself from his office. The rhetoric he employs about refugees, about Muslims, about the press has given license to people who have anti-Semitic tendencies and has sent a message that their intolerance and hatred are okay. He’s created an atmosphere where anti-Semites can say, “I’ve got a friend in the White House,” and that’s very dangerous.
Do you think the left, particularly supporters of the BDS movement and comments made by members of the so-called squad in Congress, are also to blame?
I don’t think the right has a monopoly on intolerance. The difference is that you don’t see people on the left picking up semi-automatic weapons and trying to impose their vision on houses of worship or in other public places. I think that’s an unfortunate quality of the right. But at the same time, if you are a pro-Israel student on a liberal college campus, that can sometimes be a very threatening place to be.