Jewish Groups Condemn Anti-Semitic Rhetoric in 2016 Race
In light of Donald Trump’s Star of David controversy, a number of Jewish social justice and left-leaning organizations issued a joint letter condemning the use of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic rhetoric in the presidential race and calling on Americans to denounce all forms of extremism and racism.
“We share a belief that public figures, including those who aspire to hold elected office in service to people of all races and religions, have a responsibility to forcefully and unequivocally condemn these dangerous phenomena,” the letter, signed by organizations like the ADL, JCPA, HIAS, New Israel Fund, Bend the Arc and the Rabbinical Assembly, reads. “We object to hurtful characterizations of entire ethnic groups as criminals. We are pained by anti-Semitic epithets hurled at Jewish Americans on social media.”
“We call on all Americans who support or endorse candidates for public office to loudly and clearly condemn any and all racist and xenophobic language and actions Instead, we must demonstrate commitment to our proud American and Jewish values of religious freedom, civil rights, refugee protection, and equality for all.”
On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his justification for using what was perceived as anti-Semitic imagery in a tweet against Hillary Clinton. “It was a star. A star. Like, a star,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s a star! Have you all seen this? It’s a star.”
The letter does not mention the presumptive Republican presidential nominee by name. However, it highlights past experiences of the Jewish community to illustrate the danger facing minority religious communities today as they continue to be targeted in the 2016 race.
“Now, more than ever, it is essential for the Jewish community to stand together to denounce hatred and bigotry,” ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We know all too well the dangers of unchecked racism and anti-Semitism and must never let it go unchallenged. To be clear, this is not about left or right or liberal or conservative. It is about common sense and core American values of pluralism and tolerance. We have the highest expectations of both presumptive nominees and their political parties.”
Scroll down for the full letter and list of signatories
Meanwhile, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a Jewish social justice organization also committed to defeat Trump in November, launched a national petition urging the Republican Jewish Coalition to rescind its endorsement of Trump. The petition calls on Matt Brooks, RJC’s executive director, to retract the group’s endorsement of Trump until his campaign denounces and cuts all ties with white supremacists, including anti-Semites.
“This isn’t about a single tweet. This is about a deplorable pattern of racist behavior that is fueling Donald Trump’s bid for the White House,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action. “There should be no Jewish support for a presidential campaign that supports white supremacy and anti-Semitism. As long as Donald Trump remains a megaphone for hate, we’re calling on the Republican Jewish Coalition to stop backing his campaign.”
Read the full text of the letter below:
“We, the undersigned Jewish community organizations, stand together in denouncing racism and xenophobia in all circumstances. We share a belief that public figures, including those who aspire to hold elected office in service to people of all races and religions, have a responsibility to forcefully and unequivocally condemn these dangerous phenomena.
“The Jewish community knows all too well what can happen when particular religious or ethnic groups become the focus of invective. We have witnessed the dangerous acts that can follow verbal expressions of hate. Jews and members of other religious minorities have found safety in the United States, thanks to this nation’s commitment to religious freedom, civil rights, and refugee protection. Yet these values that are pillars of our nation’s strength cannot be taken for granted; rather, they must be renewed and protected in every generation.
“We are deeply concerned by suggestions that Muslim Americans should be targeted by law enforcement, simply because of their faith. We object to hurtful characterizations of entire ethnic groups as criminals. We are pained by anti-Semitic epithets hurled at Jewish Americans on social media.
“We are also disheartened that refugees, particularly Syrians and Muslims, have become targeted in recent months and years as subjects of xenophobia. These concerns are heightened by statements made in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando tying that act of horror to an entire faith tradition, rather than the vile actions of an evil individual. This inflammatory rhetoric does not make our communities safer—in fact, it exposes us to more violence and division. Policies targeted at restricting refugees are often steeped in suspicion, ignoring the many benefits refugees bring to our communities as well as overlooking the fact that refugees are the most thoroughly vetted individuals who enter the U.S.
“Judaism teaches us to see the value in every human being, as we are all created in the image of God. The normalization of hate speech cannot become a reality in the United States. It is vital that all people of goodwill stand in solidarity against bigotry and intolerance. Our Jewish values also teach us to “love the stranger” and welcome refugees and immigrants who arrive in the U.S. wanting the same things we all want—peace, safety, and opportunities for themselves and their children.
“We call on all Americans—in their communities and on the national stage—to refrain from and denounce all forms of hatred and extremism. We call on all Americans who support or endorse candidates for public office to loudly and clearly condemn any and all racist and xenophobic language and actions. Instead, we must demonstrate commitment to our proud American and Jewish values of religious freedom, civil rights, refugee protection, and equality for all.”
The full list of signers includes:
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Jewish Social Justice Roundtable
American Jewish World Service
AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Challah for Hunger
Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jews United for Justice
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
JOIN for Justice
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
National Council of Jewish Women
New Israel Fund
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Repair the World
Union for Reform Judaism