Jews living in London gave a thumbs-up for Hillary Clinton this week, ahead of an election that has polarised opinion like never before, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.
For Holly Kal-Weiss, 51, a “lifelong Democrat” from Illinois and Clinton voter, her decision is a matter of principle. “I wouldn’t vote Republican,” she says.
“I admire the Greens, but I wouldn’t waste my vote, especially as it might give Trump a way in. There is no choice in this election. Only Hillary can do the job.”
Kal-Weiss says the candidates’ views on Israel and/or Jewish issues had no bearing on her considerations. By far her bigger concern is Trump who, she says, is not the ‘friend of Jews’ he purports to be.
“He’s a danger to democracy,” she says. “He’s a bigot and a pig. Anyone who wants to ban Muslims, who calls Mexicans ‘rapists,’ is not fit for office. If Jews think he wouldn’t turn on them, they are foolish.”
President Trump would be “an embarrassment,” Kal-Weiss argues, adding: “His close relationship with Russia is also a worry, but the real concern is the Supreme Court justice appointments [over which he would have power, as president]. He could turn the clock back on women’s and minority rights by appointing someone who would overturn all the gains made in the last 50 years.”
PhD student in History at UCL, David Tiedemann, 25, a “stalwart Democrat” born in California, agrees, and says “a sense of decency” swayed his vote towards Clinton. “Trump simply lacks the moral fibre,” says the London-based PhD student.
“His anti-Hispanic racism, questioning the legitimacy of American democracy, misogyny, the unconstitutional attack on Muslims – it all makes him unfit for the highest office of state,” he says.
Likewise, Israel and/or Jewish issues are not a factor in his decision. Trump’s statements, and the way he has divided opinion, appears to have galvanised American Jews such as Tiedemann in a manner not seen in past elections.
“I have never before felt such a necessity that a brand of politics has to be refuted,” he adds. “Trump has to lose, and lose badly. The American people must reject his destructive political style or else his ideological successors will poison US politics for a generation to come.”
Is Trump worrying for Jews? “It is worrying for any Jew when a political figure proposes open religious discrimination against whatever group,” Tiedemann says.
“Trump’s open embrace of anti-Muslim repression evokes some obvious strong historical memories so, yes, the rise of right-wing or ‘alt-right’ anti-Semitism associated with the Trump campaign is concerning. I would hope that particular element of Trump’s support would disqualify him for any American Jew.”
New York media consultant Carol Bronze said: “There was never any question for me, it had to be Hillary. She’s the only sensible nominee. She’s conducted herself with dignity and intelligence, as a respected statesperson.”
When asked about the prospect of a President Trump, Bronze asks: “How can you believe in a country that elects probably the worst candidate America has ever seen in Trump? It would reflect how deeply the US is out of touch with everything that matters. If Trump gets elected, I’ll arrange to meet my US relatives in Israel or the UK, rather than popping back. It won’t feel like ‘home’ again until many years after his reign of terror.”
For Heidi Schwartz, 55, a Philadelphia-born content editor at a community charity in London, the bigger issues are corporate influence on politics, gun control, employment, education, health and the environment.
Schwartz, a fan of left-wing Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and now a “reluctant Clinton supporter,” says she is “embarrassed by what has happened to the country” and that Trump is “totally unqualified for the office”, but understands his support.
“People are angry,” she says. “They want someone who is not part of the mainstream. I completely understand that, but Trump is not the answer.
“He has no idea how government works, only how to get around it. He is not in this for America or the American people. He is in it entirely for himself, his empire and his own ego.”