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Why Jews Need To Focus on Trump’s War on the Poor

It was with a shock of relief and hope that I noted Jews voted 71% for Clinton. Our complicity with the Israeli occupation has driven us far from the kinds of coalitions and progressive communities that we should be a part of, and now have the obligation to rejoin. Given that both Trump and Clinton were friends of AIPAC and opposed BDS, it was clearly the rest of the Democratic Party agenda that attracted Jewish voters. This gives us the opportunity to fulfill our responsibilities to rejuvenate our politics and stand firmly with Muslims, immigrants, migrants, and refugees. While anti-Semites are rife among Trump’s coterie, it would be foolish for us to overstate American anti-Semitism as an emergency of any level comparable to the stigmatization and concrete attacks facing groups who are more vulnerable and have less protection. Street violence re-enforced by police violence against people of color and other religious minorities, and standing with our endangered brethren is a necessity, whether their assailants are also targeting us or not.

Trump’s evangelical support, and Vice President Mike Pence’s involvement in anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-trans policies makes it even more necessary for Jews to not be seduced into identifying with Christians against Muslims and other people assumed by vigilantes to be Muslim. This demand for secularity in government implies that Jews will stand with women seeking abortion, and with LGBT youth and their right to avoid “conversion therapy” programs supported by Pence.

But most of all, it is Trump’s war on the poor that should be the focus of Jewish political activism, using our institutions and buildings as shelters, meeting places, and sanctuaries, our lobbying capacities as defenders of just law, and our social service agencies as sources of support and relief. We have to stand with Black Lives Matter, with Muslims, with Dream Defenders, with the homeless, and with every community of human beings in our nation and on our planet that stands to be victimized by the new regime.

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