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Letter | On The Left’s Failure To Recognize The Hate On Its Own Side

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday, the Forward published a piece by Omar Baddar titled “Trump’s Bigotry Isn’t Accidental. We Must Unite To Fight It.” The article made the case that President Trump’s recent statement — that it would show “disloyalty” for a Jew to vote for a Democrat — was just another example of bigotry and hatred coming from this President.

Baddar makes the case that President Trump must be anti-Semitic because of these comments. He also argues that all charges of anti-Semitism that Republicans have leveled against Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Taib are “baseless.”

Was it anti-Semitic for President Trump to say that it would show “disloyalty” for a Jew to vote for the party of Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib? The specifics are up for debate, but either way, this kind of language is unacceptable coming from the President of the United States. President Trump has a more than checkered history when it comes to issues of race and religion, as Baddar notes. There was clearly no consideration of word choice or concern for the effects that words can have, an unfortunate pattern of this President. When speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, he referred to Benjamin Netanyahu “your” Prime Minister, and also went on and on about how many “negotiators” were in the room.

With all of this said, it is unreasonable to conclude that President Trump is a deep and abiding anti-Semite who has a root level prejudice against Jews.

It’s a good faith Baddar is unwilling to grant Trump — though he is willing to grant it to Omar and Tlaib. Baddar starts the piece by briefly mentioning that President Trump’s claims of anti-Semitism against Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib are completely “baseless.”

But if I feel 100% comfortable calling out President Trump for his unacceptable and ignorant statements, Baddar should feel that way about Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib as well.

He should feel comfortable calling them out for planning to go on a trip to Israel led by Mifta, a group that has celebrated terrorists, printed blood libels, and published neo-Nazis.

He should feel comfortable calling them out for sharing a cartoon drawn by Carlos Latuff, a man who won second place in Iran’s Holocaust cartoon contest and has a long history of anti-Semitic cartoons.

Instagram post by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

Screenshot of anti-Semitic Instagram post by Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Image by Batya Ungar-Sargon

He should feel comfortable calling Rep. Omar out for retweeting an article published on Mondoweiss, a website described by the Washington Post as a “Hate site.”

All of these examples that Baddar had the opportunity to call out have come within the past few weeks, yet concerns about Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Omar’s feelings towards Jews are “baseless,” he claims.

I am on board with calling out “ugly and divisive rhetoric” whenever and wherever I see it, but it helps nobody when people are more preoccupied with pushing an agenda than actually confronting hate. There is no doubt that hate comes from both sides — whether it be President Trump, Rep. Steve King, Rep. Omar or Rep. Tlaib — but our job as Americans is to call it out, not make excuses and divert attention.

Sincerely,

Jack Elbaum

Jack Elbaum is a high school student from Illinois. His work has been featured in the Washington Examiner, Times of Israel, and the Daily Wire.

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