Felipe Goodman (52), a Democrat from Las Vegas, NV, is a Mexican immigrant. He was an assistant rabbi in Mexico City before joining Temple Beth Sholom in 1998. Named one of America’s most inspiring rabbis by The Forward in 2013, he participated in a series of White House meetings with President Barack Obama on relationships with the Jewish community and on Israel’s security. One reason he became a U.S. citizen 12 years ago was so he could vote.
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 this country?
I am concerned. I think that Jews in America have been living a dream. We tend to forget that we live in a world where hate needs no explanation. Unfortunately, we are always the first recipients of it.
Do you think the problem is being addressed adequately by the presidential candidates?
I have not heard anyone speak about this. I have heard them speak about the divided country, but not about anti-Semitism. I think the rise of white supremacy ideologies needs to be addressed. Also, the rise of the anti-Semitic left needs to be addressed. I think each one of the parties has to deal with their own ghosts.
Do any of the Democratic or Republican candidates stand out for you as particularly strong or weak on this issue?
No. I think, especially the candidates on the Democratic side of the ticket need to come to terms with the anti-Semitism on the left of their party. I remember when Representative Ilhan Omar started tweeting these anti-Semitic things and no one directly confronted her. They came up with all these solutions, but nobody said anything to her directly. That is shameful. And I think that needs to be addressed.
Do you think the rise in anti-Semitism is primarily fueled by President Trump’s rhetoric and white nationalism or do you place blame with the far left, exemplified by the BDS movement and comments made by members of the so-called “squad” in Congress?
I don’t think that the President is directly responsible for anti-Semitism. I really don’t. I think that certain things he does allows the far right to act with impunity. Certainly, saying there are perfectly fine people on both sides is ridiculous. On the other hand, members of the squad on the far left need to be controlled by their own party. There is a natural tie with the Palestinian issues when it comes to the left, which is very dangerous. Take the Women’s March. You had all these Palestinian flags popping up all over the place. Why? What is the linkage? There shouldn’t be any linkage. Nobody speaks out about it. Then the politicians say, “your suffering is our suffering” – they try to link it — and nobody calls it out. It’s ridiculous.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Look, as bad as it is here, I still don’t believe it’s as bad as in other countries, which means we have to learn from their mistakes. And that’s why, for me, to follow what happened in Great Britain with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor Party, is such an important example of what can happen here. I think that if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, the President will be re-elected. I’m not saying that it’s exactly the same, but it could get to that point.