Jewish New Yorkers Call on GOP to Reject Trump

NEW YORK – Jewish leaders and elected officials on Wednesday called on the Republican Party to reject Donald Trump and forcefully denounce his recent call to bar the entry of Muslims into the United States.

“It is simply unacceptable for someone to say – in America – that because someone has a faith that they simply should not be allowed to come to our country, our democracy. It is simply unacceptable,” Rabbi Bob Kaplan, founder director of the New York Center for Community and Coalition Building of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, said during a rally against the Republican presidential frontrunner at City Hall Plaza. “During Hanukkah we light candles in an increasing manner rather than in a decreasing manner. And the message is that we are here to increase the light and not to increase the darkness. And we have to ensure that those who are there to increase the darkness are overshadowed and illuminated by that light that believes what America is truly about.”

The interfaith rally on the steps of City Hall was organized by NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who called Trump a “disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president.”

“His rhetoric this election cycle has gone from mean to hateful and now, dangerous,” she said. “What Donald Trump has called for, banning Muslims from entering our nation, is xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic. His fear-mongering is fanning hate.”

Mark-Viverito’s remarks were interrupted for several minutes by a supporter of Donald Trump, an Orthodox Jewish woman, who identified herself as Rose Rosenberg. “Long live Donald Trump! I love Donald Trump!” she yelled in front of the some 200 people, including over 20 cameras, gathered in the plaza. “He’s a peaceful man. He didn’t mean anything. He’s a peaceful man, okay? Don’t demonize him.”

“I love Muslims too, but we have to use our ‘sechel’ (brains). We are dummies,” she continued. “He’s not afraid to stand up against any of you.” The crowd burst into a chant, “Enough is enough” before she was removed by plainclothes security officers.

State Senator Liz Krueger, representing the East Side of Manhattan, called Trump a “demagogue and fascist” who’s doing what others tried in the past. “We learned the lessons of history – this is the United States,” Krueger said. “When I listen to Donald Trump, I think of the fact that I am a proud Jew. And if it was 60 years ago and I was in Europe, as my family was, I’d be scared as hell about where this country might be going.”

Added Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the NYC Jewish Caucus, “The anti-immigrant and anti-religious bigotry of Donald Trump is just all too familiar to anyone who knows the painful lessons of the 20th century. “In the early 30’s to the 40’s, this country passed xenophobic laws that barred Jewish refugees from Europe from seeking safe harbor here. And by some estimates, that left to the death of 2 million Jews who would’ve been given asylum here to escape the horrors of the Nazis. Shame on Donald Trump for failing to learn the lessons of the past.”

NYC Comptroller and Public Advocate Tish James also spoke at the rally, calling on the Republican Party to reject Trump before its too late.

Also on Wednesday, American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) President Jack Rosen called on Trump to reconsider his statement. “The idea of singling out any ethnic or religious group in a condemnatory light is antithetical to both this country’s founding principles and the quintessential values of the American Jewish Congress,” Rosen said in a statement. “Even amid periods of great tragedy and heartbreak, as the seams of the Middle East have been torn open and anxiety fills the consciences of many Americans, we must be mindful of the way we approach these incredibly sensitive issues. We must keep in mind that only a tiny sliver of those who practice Islam are extremists or hold ties to extremist groups, and combat a status quo where Muslims are stereotyped or hated by the average American.”

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