What Will It Take for the U.S. Jewish Establishment to Break Its Silence on Trump?


HAARETZ – It’s past time to recognize that this is no ordinary election and Trump is no ordinary candidate. 

American Jews overwhelmingly oppose Donald Trump. From the 72% overall who view him unfavorably to the prominent Republicans Jews who have loudly criticized him, there’s a broad American Jewish consensus that he should not be president. So why won’t certain elements of the American Jewish establishment to break their disturbing silence on his candidacy?

It’s difficult for major, powerful Jewish organizations to take certain political stances, even if they have widespread support. As someone who spent time in college encouraging leaders in the American Jewish community to take a stronger stand for a two-state solution and against the occupation in my capacity as J Street U president, I can attest to that first hand.

Many American Jewish organizations stake their power on claiming to represent consensus positions in American Jewry. It’s no secret that on Israel, parts of the Jewish establishment are out of touch with the majority of American Jews. For years, umbrella Jewish organizations such as the Conference of Presidents have purported to represent American Jews while repeatedly refusing to take a stance on issues like settlements, which most American Jews oppose.

And yet, I’ve often met with communal leaders who understand how our community’s politics on Israel are changing, but their aversion to controversy has left them unable to tackle thorny issues such as settlement construction and Palestinian human rights. They fear donor pressure, charges of partisanship and headaches from longtime supporters. That fear makes adapting to rapidly shifting politics a struggle.
That same fear and paralysis might explain their silence on Trump. But it does not excuse it.

Many groups have done incredible work. The Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism and Bend the Arc have consistently challenged Trump’s racist and reckless invective. 28 American Jewish organizations signed a letter condemning racism and anti-Semitism in the 2016 campaign. But other groups – AIPAC,  the JFNA and the Conference of Presidents in particular – have remained absolutely silent.

That Trump has gotten this far should constitute a national emergency for all American Jewish organizations. Trump’s racist rhetoric and policy prescriptions threaten Muslims and Hispanic Americans, he lashes out at his critics with threats of violence and his frightening foreign policy would create a far more dangerous world.
These reasons alone should be enough for the American Jewish establishment to make every effort to stop him getting into the White House. But there are issues that speak even more directly to American Jews.

Trump directs much of his hatred toward migrants and refugees. As descendants of refugees ourselves, Jewish organizations, such as the Joint Distribution Committee – a partner of JFNA – have a proud history of welcoming the stranger and refugee resettlement.

Trump’s advisers and the GOP under him are moving away from a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a position at odds with the overwhelming majority of American Jews and the entire Jewish establishment.

Many of Trump’s vocal supporters are notorious anti-Semites. He waffled when asked to disavow David Duke – the former KKK grand wizard.  His Twitter account has re-tweeted neo-Nazis and a flagrantly anti-Semitic meme, juxtaposing Clinton, piles of money and a Star of David. There is nothing ambiguous about the vicious Jew-hatred that surrounds his campaign.

Growing up, I constantly heard that when racism of any kind gains traction, anti-Semitism is never far behind. For many of Trump’s supporters, it’s already here. Trump is the type of candidate who I assumed would have sent the entire organized American Jewish community into a tailspin.

Some groups have hidden behind their non-profit 501(c)(3) status, claiming it makes it impossible for them to speak out against Trump. That’s false. While they may not be able to endorse candidates they have every right to criticize Trump’s dangerous and outrageous statements and policy proposals. In fact, as JTA pointed out, there are some Jewish (c)(3)s who have loudly done so.

Take the American Jewish Committee (AJC), for example. They put out a strong statement in November criticizing Trump’s proposed-Muslim ban. In the months since, they have been silent, other than an op-ed from AJC Executive Director David Harris extolling the fact that both Trump and Hillary Clinton would be “firsts” for American Jews because they would bring Jewish families into the oval office.
Moderation is a noble aspiration, but doesn’t make sense in the face of Trump’s extreme candidacy.

Our most well-resourced organizations have no excuse for sitting on the sidelines as Trump threatens America. Our community knows all-too-well what happens when racist demagogues take power. This is more than just a failure to represent American Jews; it’s an abdication of their responsibility to actualize the lessons of our history and to protect American Jews.

If Trump wins come November there will likely be frightening consequences for his critics and marginalized Americans, as well as for Israel and for American Jews. How can we look our children and our Muslim and Hispanic compatriots in the eye and tell them we stayed silent because we were too frightened to rock the boat?

It’s past time to recognize that this is no ordinary election and Trump is no ordinary candidate. Trump is singularly unfit to hold the office of president. I know that our Jewish communal leaders understand that. It’s time to rise above our fears and complacency and live up to the task of keeping him out

  1. #1 by trevorlabonte on 08/17/2016 - 9:34

    I haven’t seen this kind of jewish panic since Hitler ran for office, and they couldn’t stop him, either. GO TRUMP! The jews do not quite control everything and they do not always get what they want. It is extremely important to be able to recognize one’s own allies.
    I wish people who are aware of the jewish political power would CEASE AND DESIST with their vague, baseless accusations that Trump “works for the jews.” If he did work for them, they would all know it, and they would not draw so much attention to themselves with all this whining.
    It causes people to see that jews have their own political agenda to fully realize the Judaic world order, which is totally at odds with everyone else’s freedom and survival. They are ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pontificating about how jews are different from everyone else. I wish all these oblivious gentiles would just pay attention to what the jews say in their own special jewish publications which are intended for other jews. They really are a diseased, supremacist cult, and they really are trying to take over the world and kill and destroy everyone and everything that stands in their way. Yet they are a tiny minority which could so easily be pulled off the levers of power. That’s the sad thing, all these thousands of years of pain and sorrow from this rotten batch, and its all totally unnecessary. They are a tiny fraction of a percent of the world’s population, yet they have a near-monopoly on evil and carnage. And they don’!t even keep it a secret! They brag about it all the time, they are not like you, they are “chosen” to be this way. Gentiles are scum and the entire planet is the property of the jews, okay okay, we get it already, gosh!

  2. #2 by trevorlabonte on 08/17/2016 - 9:34

    It is silly when jews pretend to care about Muslims. The entire “War on Terror” is NOTHING at all other than a jewish war on Islam. Christianity and Islam are against things like murder, deceit, lies, theft, etc…which are everything that Judaism commands and that jews hold dear.
    Trump has no problem with Islam, he is doing two things: weeding out the Mossad’s “ISIS” and harnessing the power of all the anti-Islam brainwashing that the jewish media has been putting out in America for the last four decades solid.
    It is majorly biting the jews in the ass, and now they are in a panic because Trump is using their own arsenal against them.

  3. #3 by Peter on 08/17/2016 - 9:34

    “welcome the stranger?” What hypocrites these yidds be,.. look how they treat the Semitic Palestinians, whom they threw out and who are the rightful owners of what is now izrael – have they welcomes these people, who are not even strangers?

  4. #4 by Isaac on 08/17/2016 - 9:34

    The Jews want 100% or nothing. Even when Trump pledged allegiance to AIPAC (APE-PACK) and pledged his unconditional love for Israel, and HATE for the Palestinians, the Jews still do not like it. They want some one like CROOKED, INSANE, CAREER CRIMINAL, LESBIAN, SEX PREDATOR, MASS MURDERER, LIAR, Hillary Clinton who can be easily manipulated by the Jewish Criminal Mafia with no problem.

  5. #5 by Bill h on 08/17/2016 - 9:34

    well iv seen some Jewish trolls before, he only had to start calling trumps mother a whore ,his father a pig f….r and then he would have been the same as all these other brain-washed Jews.Jews welcoming any one other then a Jew is pure and utter fantasy.Racist demagogues = Israel to a tea.

  6. #6 by Roger on 08/18/2016 - 9:34

    “””””AIPAC (APE-PACK) “”””


  7. #7 by truth4ever99 on 08/18/2016 - 9:34

    Thank you Trevor for your excellent commentary.

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