Governor, congressional candidates appear at Jewish community candidate forum

Governor, congressional candidates appear at Jewish community candidate forum
Several candidates for Nebraska’s top offices answered questions about Israel and anti-Semitism on Sunday in a first-of-its-kind forum at Temple Israel. (KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD)

Several candidates for Nebraska’s top offices answered questions about Israel and anti-Semitism on Sunday in a first-of-its-kind forum at Temple Israel.

About 400 people were in the crowd on the campus of the Tri-Faith Initiative as Rabbi Brian Stoller moderated a gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional forum.

Legislative candidates in Douglas County were also allowed to make a speech to the crowd.

The starkest differences emerged between Republican Rep. Don Bacon and Kara Eastman, his Democratic challenger.

Bacon supports the Trump administration’s move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He also supports the administration’s ending of the Iran nuclear deal that was made during the Obama administration.

Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general, said he had been deployed to the Middle East four times.

“I understand the defense of Israel and also condemn anti-Semitism,” Bacon said.

Eastman said she disagrees with President Donald Trump on both the embassy and on pulling out of the Iran deal.

“Any sort of destabilization to Palestine is a threat to Israel,” she said.

She also noted that she’s been endorsed by JStreetPAC, which aims to “promote American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Republican Sen. Deb Fischer was not at the forum.

She has said that she supports Trump on the Iran deal and the embassy move.

At the forum, her Democratic opponent, Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould, said, “The long-term success of Israel depends on coming up with a two-state solution.”

“The U.S. has been a wonderful and reliable partner with Israel, and that is something I intend to continue,” she said.

The gubernatorial candidates, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and State Sen. Bob Krist, a Democrat, were not asked about Israel, but they were asked about a reported rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

Ricketts said the first line of defense is law enforcement and to “reinforce that culture of respect and dignity” in Nebraska.

Krist said: “We have to understand each other’s culture, understand each other’s religions, understand what makes us different, and understanding that difference will help us know how we all can get along.”

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