Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

Jewish Historians Ditch Ivory Tower to Denounce Donald Trump

Scholars usually avoid politics, content to plod around the stacks in the university library and write essays for obscure academic journals. But after Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections, hundreds of Jewish historians signed an open letter pledging their opposition to many of the new leader’s ideas.

“We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews,” the statement read, in reference to the ‘alt-right’ and its anti-Semitic appeals. “More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others.”

Organized by David Biale, a professor at the University of California – Davis, the letter pledged the academics to fight the incoming administration.

“Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford,” it continued. “We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity.”

The letter included many prominent names on it — Susannah Heschel at Dartmouth, Paul Mendes-Flohr at the University of Chicago, Beth Wenger at the University of Pennsylvania, Shaye Cohen at Harvard and Maurice Samuels at Yale.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at [email protected] or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.