Janice Weiner (IA): ‘It’s Not Anti-Semitism to Disagree With Israeli Government Policies’
Janice Weiner (61), a Democrat from Iowa City, IA, is president-elect of her synagogue, Agudas Achim, and on its safety committee, an area where she gained expertise while in the Foreign Service. She is very active in the Democratic Party, serving as first vice-chair of the Johnson County Democrats (the “bluest county in Iowa”) and was recently elected to the city council in Iowa City. She also serves on the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council.
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’m very concerned about it. I would be blind and deaf if I weren’t. We’ve been talking about it locally; we speak out about it. And we know that it’s not the only issue around: there’s racism and sexism; there’s a whole variety of other issues, and we dare not turn a blind eye to this.
Do you think anti-Semitism is being addressed adequately by the presidential candidates?
I don’t know that anybody’s talking about it at length. We need a decent person, someone with integrity, who ends up in the presidency and then has the moral standing to be able to start addressing some of these issues. For me, anyone on the Democratic side would be able to accomplish that, whether they’re my favorite candidate or not. As we’re seeing in Washington every day right now, we just need different leadership at the top that tells the truth and really tries to bring some decency, caring and compassion back into our government and in our national discourse.
Some people blame the far right for the rise in anti-Semitism, while others blame the far left. Who do you think is fueling the rise of anti-Semitism in this country?
To some extent, both are. I think there are anti-Semitic tropes, definitely by white nationalists; and the extreme left is not innocent either. A lot of this comes down to being able to have a conversation, which is one of the things missing so often in our national dialogue today—the ability to talk about the issues. The fact that I may disagree with someone because they’ve used anti-Semitic tropes doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with other parts of their policies. I would like to be able to talk to some of the folks on the left as well as on the right.
What is your response to President Trump’s statement: “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
It’s vintage Trump. It’s always a loyalty test. It has nothing to do with what is in line with our constitution or what is best for this country.
What is your response to Bernie Sander’s statement: “It is not anti-Semitism to say that the Netanyahu government has been racist.”
I agree with him. It’s not anti-Semitism to disagree with Israeli government policies. That’s one of the advantages of having a democratic system with freedom of speech. You have the freedom to disagree.