As rabbis who have spent our professional lives serving the Jewish and wider community, we take exception to the president’s racist attack on four members of Congress and his suggestion that he is defending Jews from their anti-Semitism.
As Jews we are all too familiar with racist, xenophobic language. We sometimes take issue with comments made by several of the congresswomen targeted by President Trump and we will continue to call out those that we find insensitive, offensive and with whom we strongly disagree.
Nevertheless, the idea that we would suggest that these congresswomen are unpatriotic and should “go back where they came from” represents a terrifyingly bigoted perspective on American history which we call upon the American people to reject.
To suggest they are unpatriotic is an absurd non sequitur. We may criticize their ideas, but we do not challenge their right to hold them. We are appalled as Americans and as Jews to hear the State of Israel and anti-Semitism used as political tools to draw Jews to favor President Trump’s panoply of evil policies.
Rabbi Carl Astor, Rabbi Marci Bellows, Rabbi Herbert Brockman, Rabbi Richard Eisenberg, Rabbi Micah Ellenson, Rabbi Michael Farbman, Rabbi Eliana Falk, Rabbi Andrew Hechtman, Rabbi Brian Immerman, Rabbi Reena Judd, Rabbi Stacy Offner, Rabbi James Ponet, Rabbi Rona Shapiro, Rabbi Steven Steinberg, Rabbi Howard Sommer, Rabbi Leah Cohen Tenenbaum, Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen, Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus
Dole vs. Trump
July 22nd marked the 96th birthday of an American hero, former Sen. Robert Dole. He was gravely wounded in battle in World War II, but proceeded to have an active public and private life, and in 1996 he served America again. He was running for the presidency and when there was an obvious nationalist presence at one of his rallies he said, “If there is anyone who has mistakenly attached themselves to our party in the belief that we are not open to citizens of every race and religion, let me remind you tonight this hall belongs to the party of Lincoln. And the exits, which are clearly marked, are for you to walk out of as I stand this ground without compromise.” They were obviously not welcome.
In the past month, before President Trump’s launching of his 2020 campaign in Orlando, a goodly number of people were seen giving the Nazi salute as they entered, and they obviously did feel welcome.
And then Trump taunted four congresswomen of color, and told them to “go back where you came from.” This resonates with me personally, as that exact insult that was hurled at me as I was beaten up in the 3rd grade for my religion. White nationalists expressed their enthusiastic backing of our president’s racist sentiments.
The differences in the career integrity and devotion to country between Dole and Trump couldn’t be more stark. Dole told the bigots: here’s the exit; Trump said: here’s the entrance.
Norman L. Bender
Click here to read the original article for the New Haven Register
Published 2:16 pm EDT, Wednesday, July 24, 2019