Sander Eizen (21), a Republican from Ann Arbor, MI, grew up in a Modern Orthodox household in Oak Park, MI. He attended Jewish day school starting in nursery school and went to an Orthodox Zionist sleepaway camp. At the University of Michigan, he attends events at Hillel and the Jewish Resource Center, and lives in a house with eight students who come from Modern Orthodox or “Conservadox” backgrounds.
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 America?
It’s concerning because it’s targeted bigotry towards our people. It’s become more prevalent, although it has existed within American society for years. Now that we have social media, and we’re constantly aware whenever an anti-Semitic attack occurs, it makes you realize that it exists in more ways than some of us may have thought. The most recent attack [the stabbing in Monsey, NY during Hannukkah] shook me the most. It was really eye-opening and made me think about where the future of this country is heading. It should be on the higher side of priorities for anybody running for any office, making sure that things like this don’t happen anymore.
I’ve heard from a lot of young people that the Jersey City shooting and Monsey stabbing shook them more than previous attacks. Why do you think that is?
Because we’ve all been at our rabbi’s house for some event. The thought of somebody coming in with a machete and just hacking away is truly terrifying. And I think that’s why that attack, as well as the Jersey City attack, felt different than the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting. In some sick way, an attack on a religious institution is almost more expected than an attack on somebody’s home or at a supermarket.
Do you think that the presidential candidates are adequately addressing the problem?
No one can singlehandedly solve anti-Semitism. It has to be a national mentality. The priority in fighting anti-Semitism should be in unifying people and showing Americans that they have much more in common than they have differences. When there’s anti-Semitism, there are always other forms of hatred and divisiveness that exist in society.
Some people say the rise in anti-Semitism comes from the right with Trump’s rhetoric and white nationalism and others blame the left including the BDS movement and members of “the squad” in congress. What do you think?
Anti-Semitism isn’t exclusive to a political ideology or political party. The alt-right is very anti-Semitic and it’s troublesome to me that they’re part of the Republican coalition. But it comes from the left as well, where under the guise of human rights and equality is a hateful and anti-Semitic movement like BDS. It’s boring to say that it comes from both sides, but it’s the truth. And we need to get better at saying that. In our divisive political times, people don’t like to say that their team is wrong.
What other factors do you think are contributing to the increase in anti-Semitism today?
If I was better educated on it, I could give you a better answer. I just don’t know why people would hate other people. A lot of this anti-Semitism comes from stereotyping, from just pure baseless hatred, and I think that’s a ridiculous way to live life, to just hate people you don’t know. It’s something that has been around for centuries, for millennia. It just kind of exists.