Lavea Brachman (57), a Democrat from Colombus, OH, grew up in an observant family with deep moderate-Republican roots. She is an expert on urban policy who cofounded the Greater Ohio Policy Center. She is married to Andrew Smith, also participating in this project, who is a Republican. Brachman’s family owned a paint and resin manufacturing company in Columbus, where Smith is currently CEO.
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 do fear the general rise of anti-Semitic graffiti and the violence in areas around New York and other places. It makes me very concerned about intolerance in general. It legitimizes people’s attitudes that had gone underground because they weren’t acceptable in society. But it also makes me want to be more overt about my religion. We didn’t have mezuzahs on either of our homes, but we’re going to put them on both.
Do you think the problem is being addressed adequately by the presidential candidates?
I don’t think it’s being discussed sufficiently. I know that they’ve each been asked a question or two during the debates about it, but the answers have been really pat, like “Yes, of course, anti-Semitism is bad.” I don’t see any of them going out on a limb to really talk about it.
What would you like to see the candidates saying about anti-Semitism and how to fight it?
The Democratic candidates need to form a united front on anti-Semitism. It shouldn’t be just in reaction to these terrible incidents. At every turn, they should talk about how this country has been enriched by Jewish immigration and tie it to the important idea that we are a country that’s open to new people; that this is all connected to our policies on immigration and tolerance. It’s not just about Jews and anti-Semitism because we all know that as Jews go, so go other minorities. That’s exactly what every Democratic candidate needs to be saying.
What do you think are the primary reasons for the rise in anti-Semitism?
Trump has absolutely been a source for provoking all kinds of intolerance. Everything he does is rooted in promoting divisiveness. Trump’s white nationalist allies see him as one of them, which validates and legitimizes their ugly anti-Semitic, racist views. BDS and much of the left rhetoric is really more about Israel than it is about Jews. But it gets interpreted by many as anti-Semitism. I do not like “the squad.” I don’t like their views. But none of them is president of the United States.