Lynne Toporov (76), a Republican from Sarasota, FL, grew up in an agnostic Philadelphia family surrounded by Democrats. Her grandfather was a Communist. She was confirmed but does not consider herself religious and does not currently belong to a synagogue. She always voted for Democrats, including President Barack Obama, until about four years ago when she started listening to conservative talk radio and found she connected to what she heard.
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 rising anti-Semitism in this country?
It seems to have gotten out of control; it’s one incident after another. I know what it’s like and I don’t like it at all. When I was younger, I was taunted because we had a summer place and it was basically surrounded by non-Jews. I would walk down the boardwalk and be taunted with disparaging remarks about being Jewish. When I got older and we moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, someone put bloody t-shirts in our mailbox and swastikas all over our steps and broke our windows. We found out later that it was our German neighbors who were doing it. It was horrible.
Do you believe President Trump’s rhetoric has fueled the recent rise in anti-Semitism?
I can’t see how. I disagreed with that one statement he made after Charlottesville—that there were good people on both sides. I really didn’t know where he was coming from with that. So, there are things he has said that I don’t agree with but that still doesn’t make him a bad person. I don’t think that everything starts with Trump. Anti-Semitism has been around for many, many years. It didn’t just happen now.
Do you think the left, particularly supporters of the BDS movement and comments made by members of the so-called squad in Congress, have contributed to the problem?
I cannot stand “the squad.” I cannot stand where they’re coming from. And then there’s Bernie Sanders who I don’t understand at all. He worked on a kibbutz and members of his family on his father’s side were killed by Hitler. I don’t know why he became a socialist. If he’s elected, it will destroy the country.
Do you think the presidential candidates are doing enough to address the issue?
Most of them are pro-Israel and against anti-Semitism. I’d like them to say more but I don’t know how much they can actually do. I personally think that anti-Semitism starts in the home. I think you’re a product of your environment and what your parents tell you. I don’t think anything’s going to really change unless it starts from there. Not everybody is brought up to be free thinkers and to have respect for others like I was brought up. Some people feel as though they have to hate somebody or something in order to feel important.