Interview with NY01 candidate Perry Gershon

INTERVIEW — Democratic challenger Perry Gershon discussed his campaign against Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY) for New York’s 1st Congressional District in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. Gershon, who volunteered on the presidential campaigns of Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart in the 1980s before starting a career in real estate, says he reignited his political activism following the election of President Donald Trump.

“It goes arm in arm with my beliefs as a Jew that I think we need to fight against what Donald Trump represents. I think he’s a threat to American democracy as we see it. I grew up with a strong sense of learning the lessons of the Holocaust and it being something never to repeat. And I’m concerned now with worldwide creeping, right wing authoritarianism. We feel the need to fight it, and running for office is my way of doing that.”

Gershon described Zeldin as a “Trump enabler” and criticized the Republican for seeking the support of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, who Gershon described as “people who were expelled from the Trump administration for being too extreme.”

Gershon on the U.S.-Israel relationship: “I am a very, very strong supporter of Israel. I’ve been to Israel nine times in my life. My brother was bar mitzvahed in Israel. My sister’s kids were just bat mitzvahed in Israel. So my commitment to the state of Israel could not be stronger. I find it unfortunate that Republicans are trying to use support of Israel as a wedge in American Jewry and trying to steal support from the Democratic party, which has traditionally and continues to be, strong supporters of Israel.”

Gershon says he supports the updated version of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

On the Iran deal: “I do not agree with the Trump administration’s approach. I think that JCPOA was flawed, but basically, a good deal. I think pulling out of it was an error on the Trump administration’s part. I think it’s critical that we do everything we can to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. And the Iran deal, though imperfect, was a helpful step towards achieving that agenda. I don’t think whether I would have supported it or opposed it in 2015 is relevant. The fact is, we were in the Iran deal and we should’ve stayed there. The Iran deal gave concessions to Iran and those were some costs, but we’ve already given those concessions. So if we pay too big of a price, we’ve already paid it.”

On receiving J Street’s endorsement: “I support a two-stage solution to the Arab/Israeli crisis. I think that is the only way that Israel can remain a Jewish and a democratic state. My view is one shared by both AIPAC and J Street.”

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