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Friday, March 24, 2017

Hey, rabbis: Stop dividing us in the name of fighting hate

Too many rabbis and other Jewish leaders are linking the threats against JCCs and other Jewish spaces — like the Brooklyn Jewish Children’s Museum — to President Trump. Sure, you stand against anti-Semitism, and that’s good. But you do it under the umbrella of groups like Get Organized Brooklyn, groups with openly political leftist aims. Your fight against anti-Semitism is part and parcel of your fight against the president. It shouldn’t be.

After all, if there were no Donald Trump, there would still be anti-Semitism, and as a leader in the Jewish community, you need to say so — loudly and often. It only serves to downplay the scourge of anti-Semitism to pretend it’s an invention of Donald Trump or his followers.

Think about it: The two people arrested so far for making bomb threats against Jewish centers have turned out to be nothing like we may have imagined they’d be. They’re not white supremacists from states you’d probably never visit. No, on Wednesday, an American-Israeli Jewish teenage citizen was arrested for making some of those threats. A few weeks ago, Juan Thompson, a Hispanic leftist writer, was charged with making some.

At a time when we need to stand together, you have to know you are fostering an atmosphere that is working against that goal. When you infused the Purim spiel with your opposition to Donald Trump, do you know that you alienated people? I don’t mean people in faraway red states — I mean people in your own congregations.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump myself, and, in fact (as some members of your shuls could tell you), I tried my best to stop him. Ironically, people in your liberal New York world weren’t too worried about a Trump win; Hillary was a lock, they said. But I was worried.

Still, I’m a conservative, and people know that. So fellow congregants who did support Trump felt safe confiding in me about that. Yes, though it may surprise you to learn, these are people in your own congregations — people who voted for the man you so openly oppose. Your efforts to pretend these people don’t exist, or don’t matter, or are on the wrong side, don’t do anything to bridge any divides.

Indeed, it’s fair to ask: Is your purpose to make people feel unwelcome? Certainly your e-mails, filled with calls for vigils and pleas for peace, as if Trump were the great evil facing Jews (if not the whole world) and Jews have a duty to stand up to him, suggest that. But why can’t you live up to the values you write to me about weekly — most notably, tolerance for people with different points of view?

Yes, we need to take anti-Semitism and threats to our community spaces seriously. Being a Jew can never mean sitting back and hoping for the best. There’s a reason we’ve had cinder blocks outside so many of our Manhattan buildings, metal detectors at our doors, security guards at every entryway.

But this didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and it won’t end with him. Now is the time to admit this and to stand together in opposition to anti-Semitism.

It’s time for Jewish leaders to disentangle their justified concern for the safety of Jews from their desire for a different president. Weakening Jewish unity and politicizing threats to Jews won’t do anyone much good.

1 comment:

Teapartydoc said...

I'm wondering if the author of the Post article was feigning surprise at who was arrested for the hoax hate crimes she mentions. Trump didn't announce the possibility of them being false flag operations out of clairvoyance or pulling out a lucky card. He was recognizing a pattern. A pattern she is not yet ready to see. This is a societal Rorschach test, and she doesn't seem genetically programmed to pass it.