An Open Letter to the “Organized” Jewish Community:
For more than a generation, we’ve had an alphabet soup of Jewish organizations serving a variety of constituencies: Some with great vigor and vitality, others merely limping along, vestiges of a bygone era with funders too attached to nostalgia to cut the chord. Nonetheless, in America—in Diaspora—our Jewish community thrived. We made it in America.
Today, with the election of Donald Trump and his selection of Steve Bannon as a Senior Advisor in the White House, our community faces its greatest moral test in decades: Some organizations and Jewish publications claim we cannot make Trump “treyf”—that we have an obligation to work with him as the President of the United States. They have a legitimate point. In normal political times, be it a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, it is imperative that our community has access to those in power, to express our concerns, to help shape policy based upon our values.
These are not normal times. This is not a normal candidate nor a normal advisor. Steve Bannon is an avowed white nationalist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic tyrant who seeks power for white Christian heterosexual men—at the expense of all others. This is the man the president-elect has chosen to advise him.
It is time for the Jewish community to stop our damn infighting, get over our imaginary turf wars, and join in one powerful, unequivocal voice: There is no place for such hatred in the People’s House! We must call upon Mr. Trump to remove Mr. Bannon immediately!
From AIPAC to JFNA to the URJ and UJSC and the RRA and T’ruah ‘RUAH and J Street and Bend the Arc and NCJW and Hadassah and the ZOA and the Republican Jewish Coalition and every local JFCS, Federation, and community organization, we must rise together as one community and state without reservation: This is not good for America or Americans! This is an abject failure of the incoming administration. Anyone who traffics with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the “alt-right” may not have a place in a presidential administration.
There will be more than enough time to debate politics and policies. This time, this appointment, demands a morally courageous stand from every Jewish organization in the United States.
History will look back at us in this moment. Our only moral response is to confront the Amalek in our midst with fearless and faithful resolve.
Rabbi Michael Adam Latz