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Letter: The Simon Wiesenthal Center Did Speak Out Against Trump’s Family Separation Policy

It is very unfortunate that four prominent individuals in Los Angeles wrote a blistering critique of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles,” entitled, Why Were Some LA Jewish Organizations Silent During Trump’s Immigration Crisis?, without including all of the facts.

The authors chose to focus on selective statements issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center while ignoring the entirety of our statements on this issue, which was covered in national media across the country. Rabbi Marvin Hier condemned Trump’s family separation policy in two separate interviews: “To have the greatest democracy on the planet involved in something like this just doesn’t smell right, it needs to be fixed, and it needs to be changed…That’s a terrible thing. I’m not in favor of separating children from parents. It goes against everything the United States of America stands for.”

The Wiesenthal Center spoke out publicly against the separation of children from their parents before the Administration announced changes in their policy. On June 19, we issued a statement: “To be sure, like millions of Americans on both sides of the political divide, we want our leaders to solve the humanitarian crisis at hand. No matter what the divisions are over immigration policies, it is unacceptable to separate little children from their parents. That isn’t what America stands for. Those are not our values…”We urge immediate steps to ameliorate this situation, and for the administration and Congress to finally take the necessary steps to end this problem long-range.”

Yet, the authors charged that, “Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abe Cooper focused their ire on those who dared to mention the Holocaust as a reminder of what Trump’s policies could lead to,” a charge that is untrue and unbecoming of past and present leaders in our community.

The facts are that again and again, Center officials called out the policy of separating parents from their children as well as urging the Administration, our leaders and Congress to mitigate the crisis. “Like millions of Americans on both sides of the political divide,” Cooper wrote), “we want our leaders to solve the humanitarian crisis at hand. No matter what the divisions are over immigration policies, it is unacceptable to separate little children from their parents. That isn’t what America stands for. Those are not our values. We urge immediate steps to ameliorate this situation and for the Administration and Congress to finally take the necessary steps to end this problem.”

Rob Eshman, Laura Geller, Janice Kaminer-Reznik and David Lehrer’s misleading piece erroneously insisted that the SWC primarily focused on the issue of misappropriating the Nazi Holocaust. That simply was not the case.

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