Shelley Berkley (68), a Democrat from Las Vegas, NV, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms (1999-2013), representing Nevada’s 1st District, which includes Las Vegas. In 2012, she ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. While in Congress, she was an outspoken supporter of Israel. At Touro University, Berkley oversees two medical schools—in Nevada and in northern California.
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. When I was a kid, I was active in the Jewish youth group and we occasionally saw films about the liberation of the concentration camps. I remember thinking, “What aberration could have caused a country to go crazy and murder six million people because they were Jewish?” Now, I’ve come to realize that what happened in Germany was not an aberration. What we have enjoyed in the United States since World War ll was the aberration. Anti-Semitism seems to have been prevalent practically since the dawn of civilization. I don’t know why this is. But the fact that you can feel it now and that it’s out in the open is very frightening to me.
Do any of the Democratic or Republican candidates stand out for you as particularly strong or weak on this issue?
I may disagree with a number of the Democratic candidates when it comes to support for Israel, but I don’t think any of them are anti-Semitic. I have been horrified by Donald Trump’s seeming tolerance for clearly anti-Semitic hate groups. And the seminal incident in this country in recent memory is what happened in Charlottesville—and the lack of condemnation by the president of the United States.
What would you like to see the candidates saying about anti-Semitism and how to fight it?
I would like a commitment to use the office of the president to ensure Congress passes legislation not only condemning anti-Semitism but protecting houses of worship and other religious organizations from anti-Semitic acts and appropriating resources to strengthen the security protecting Jewish institutions and buildings.
Some people blame the far-right, fueled by Trump’s rhetoric and white nationalism, for the rise in anti-Semitism. Others blame the far left, exemplified by the BDS movement and “the squad” in Congress. What do you think? White nationalism is anti-Semitism. There is no attempt on their part to conceal this. On the left, I think the BDS movement is as anti-Semitic as the marchers in Charlottesville. It needs to be condemned by Democrats, just as white nationalist organizations should be condemned and not tolerated by the Republicans. They are preaching the same thing. In the end, no matter if it’s coming from “the squad” or from the white nationalists, it still harms me and my family.