Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene said Thursday that his Jewish identity triggers revultion for the levels of tolerance President Donald Trump exhibited toward rising hate groups, and he vowed to not tolerate any bigotry, racism, or hatred in Florida if he is elected governor.
Greene was speaking before a gathering at the Roth Jewish Family Center in Maitland, in an event organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando Thursday morning. He sharply criticized the president’s response to the Charlottesville rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists last year, and since, as affronts to all, and something he felt personally.
“With the president saying, ‘There’s good people on both sides,’ it made me sick to my stomach,” Greene said. “I have a very, very deep and strong Jewish identity, and I can tell you if I’m governor of Florida I would never tolerate any kind of bigotry, racism or hatred in this state.”
The declaration came up almost as an aside as Greene was addressing his thoughts on Israel. That discussion also led him to offer some faint praise toward Trump for supporting that country, but also some light criticism of the hard-line approach toward security shared by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Trump.
Greene faces Democrat Philip Levine, who’s also Jewish, plus Gwen Graham, Chris King, and Andrew Gillum in the Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“Obviously, we’re all happy when Donald Trump is getting along with Bibi, which is better than the alternative,” Greene said when asked about his thoughts on Israel.
Greene noted that he’s been to Israel many times, including as a student studying there for six months, as well as recently, and has met with both Netanyahu and the late former Israel President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
“I think moving the capital to Jerusalem sounds great, but we’ll see. Hopefully it doesn’t backfire and we have more problems,” Greene said.
He cautioned that the plights of Palestinians must be considered, saying, “we can’t just ignore what’s there.”
“I’m glad that the president says, ‘I’m standing with Israel.’ But … we still have to have solutions. And that’s the problem. The way to solve the problem is to give them hope,” Greene said.
“You know, you go to the West Bank and visit businesses there who are doing well: They’re not interesting in blowing anything up. They want their kids to have educations and I-Phones and become pediatricians,” Greene said. “In Gaza it’s pretty hopeless. And we have to figure out a way … of getting the whole Middle East behind making Gaza successful economically, so that people aren’t as interested in throwing bombs.”
Then he added, “But as long as they have text books that talk about taking Israel off the map, we have a problem, as long as they have streets named after bombers.”