Hannah Rosenthal (WI): ‘Israel Needs Very Profound Change’
Hannah Rosenthal (68), a Democrat who lives in Madison, WI, originally thought she would follow her father, a 16th-generation rabbi, into the family business. Instead, she became a “professional Jew” and a “professional feminist.” Rosenthal has held a range of political and government roles, including Midwest regional director, Department of Health and Human Services (Clinton administration) and the State Department’s U.S. Special Envoy in the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (Obama administration). She also served as executive director of the Chicago Foundation for Women.
Does religion affect your political views?
Absolutely. My Jewishness informs all my views and all my values. I can’t separate the way I identify as a Jew and the way I live as a Jew. I believe in the fundamental Jewish values: “Do justly, love mercy, and walk with humility before God.”
What do you think about Trump’s approach to Israel?
I believe with my entire heart that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish country. But I think Israel needs very profound change. I think the religious noose that is around the politics of Israel is extremely dangerous, and Netanyahu talking about one state and disenfranchising the Palestinians means Israel would not be a democratic state. I am strongly for a two-state solution and am worried about having Netanyahu/Trump heading up whatever is going to happen there. Israel is a complicated subject to discuss, and reckon with, but it’s not hard for me. I’m completely comfortable in my skin, loving Israel, but not liking her right now.
What are the top three issues that concern you most?
Health care. I’m one of those stories about how having a sick grandchild can move us all into bankruptcy. [Her granddaughter has a rare form of liver cancer.] I’m also concerned about economic justice and women’s rights.
What do you think about the Democratic presidential field?
I will support vigorously and financially whoever the candidate is. Cory Booker is not getting the traction I think he deserves. He’s passionate about bringing people together, and boy, does this country need some healing. I hope the other candidates can do that. I think that Bernie Sanders is a poor loser, and so I worry that some of his core voters will, like they did in the last presidential election, decide that there’s no difference between Trump and whoever the nominee is, and will either stay home or vote for an independent candidate.
Do you anticipate any surprises in this election?
I don’t think Joe Biden is going to win Iowa. And he might not win New Hampshire.
How do you feel about impeachment?
I believe that Trump has time and time again shown that he is not fit for the office of President of the United States. I certainly believe that for the safety of our democracy, our country and the world, Trump should be impeached. It is important that history record his crimes, his outrageous rhetoric, his belief that the rules and laws do not apply to him, his dishonesty and corruption, and his focus on using his official office for financial gain for himself and his family.