By Carolyn Conte
Jews should leave the Democratic Party and join the GOP. That was the message at a “Pizza and Politics” gathering in Olney on Feb. 13. Twenty people heard speakers and attendees say that the Democratic Party is partly to blame for rising anti-Semitism in the United States. The event, hosted by the Montgomery County Republican Club and Montgomery County Young Republicans, featured speaker Alexandra Levine, treasurer of JEXIT, a nonprofit organization founded in 2018 that encourages Jews to leave the Democratic Party.
“We back any president who supports Israel,” said Levine.
She said she was concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism. She said her alma mater, New York University, was an example because it hosted apartheid events.
In an interview before the event, Jackie Sackstein, social media and events chair of the MCGOP Club, said she has seen a similar campus trend.
“As a young Jewish Republican, I have dealt with a lot of hate in my recent college years,” she said. On her college campus, someone drew a swastika on a dorm door’s poster of President Donald Trump. Another time, students protested in front of Jewish students during High Holiday services. When she was invited to a Chanukah party, “I was on the subway, and I, actually, I covered my ugly Chanukah sweater, because I was genuinely scared that someone would beat me up because I was Jewish.” Sackstein recalled waking up one day and seeing her own synagogue on a list of places that had received a bomb threat call.
Sackstein believes the right is doing more to educate Jews, while Democrats do not have her best interests at heart. “I identify more with the ‘live and let live’ ideology, which I think Republicans lean [toward],” she said.
She supports JEXIT and said the group does “amazing work in exposing the source of that anti-Semitism.”
“A lot of the hate I experienced on and off campus were from radical leftists who disguise their anti-Semitism under the guise of a pro-Palestinian stance.” Sackstein named Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as an example. “A lot of people don’t realize Israel is the size of the state of New Jersey. The people claiming that land is Palestine are trying to take away the little space that is Jewish. It’s the one place Jews can go to from any country and express themselves and be openly Jewish.”
After Levine spoke, candidates for office talked to the audience about their campaigns. District 8 candidate Patricia Rogers, who is Jewish, emphasized religion as the value of the Republican Party.
“Republicanism is good for Judaism because we have traditional values, value education and are pro-Israel,” Dwight Patel, board member of the MCGOP Club, said.
Anil Chaudhry, a parent running for the education board in Montgomery County, said it is hard to find a different point of view in Montgomery County, and that he feels local politicians do not care about his voice or concerns. “I am here to listen,” he said. Chaudhry said every vote has to be earned, and he doesn’t believe Democrats have earned minority voters, including Jewish ones.
“The Jewish people and their allies need to stand together against hate,” said Sackstein, “and I truly believe that the Republican Party is a true friend to the Jewish people as well as the state of Israel.” Not all attendees were convinced that being against Zionism means someone is anti-Semitic, however.
“I hope they’re separate. I hate to characterize people’s motives,” said Mark Uncapher, president of the MCGOP Club.
Carolyn Conte is a staff reporter for the Baltimore Jewish Times, an affiliated
publication of Washington Jewish Week.