Miriam Laing (FL): ‘We Never Got Rid of Anti-Semitism—We Just Pushed It Away’
Miriam Laing (50), a Democrat from Lake Worth, FL, has spent most of her career working for nonprofit Jewish organizations. An activist since childhood, she is very involved with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and lives just 32 miles from Parkland, Florida. She believes it is important that her children “understand what it means to be involved in your community and to give back and take responsibility.”
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 really concerned about it. As a liberal person, I think I’ve lived under the misconception for much of my life that we’d gotten past the worst of anti-Semitism and racism in our country; that we had grown as a people. But these last couple of years are showing me that what we were good at was making it unacceptable to publicly express those feelings. Folks who are anti-Semitic or racist or misogynistic didn’t go anywhere. They just weren’t as loud as they are now.
Do you think Trump’s rhetoric has empowered anti-Semites?
I think Trump has given them permission, but he didn’t cause anti-Semitism. He didn’t cause people to have these feelings. I think it’s important that we look at the systemic roots to really get at those issues. I’d like to hear a little more about that. For instance, how does poverty and job loss in certain kinds of communities impact this type of behavior? And why is the fact that whites are going to become a minority in the country so threatening to some people? We need to address those issues head on, which I don’t think we’ve done yet. That is why when somebody so hateful came to power, all of this stuff came bubbling back up to the surface. We never got rid of anti-Semitism—we just pushed it away.
Do you have any concerns about how the far left, particularly supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, may be contributing to the problem?
I do believe the BDS movement is inherently anti-Semitic. I don’t think it’s just about rights for Palestinians. I think it’s anti-Semitic in its roots and that’s where the folks who are driving it are coming from.
Do you think the Democratic presidential candidates are addressing the problem of anti-Semitism adequately?
They have not addressed it as strongly as I, as a Jewish American woman, would like to see. I do want to feel like it’s not just “yeah, yeah, yeah, we know it’s terrible. We love Israel, we love you Jews and it’s terrible that you get hurt and we should do something about it.” That’s pretty ineffectual.