Category Archives: Religions

Anti-Semitism in the Age of Trump

by Laurie Zimmerman, The Progressive, February 1, 2019

A new U.S. embassy. A snapshot of high schoolers giving the Nazi salute. A march of chanting Neo-Nazis. A shooting at a synagogue on Shabbat. What does anti-Semitism look like in today’s America?

“I have a message for the rabbi,” sputtered the voice as I picked up the phone.

“I am the rabbi,” I responded.

Surprised to be speaking directly to me, the caller continued: “I want to tell you what I think about what you said about those boys in Baraboo.”

He was referring to the talk I gave at Baraboo High School in south-central Wisconsin on November 19, after a photograph circulated on social media of a large group of boys posing in a Nazi salute. I had been invited to speak at a community gathering. My congregants were the school’s only two Jewish students.

“They weren’t doing a Nazi salute,” the caller argued defensively.

“Actually, some of them were.” I explained that several boys had already come forward to apologize.

“Well, they didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Maybe, but real harm was still done.”

“They were having fun. Can’t you just laugh it off? It wasn’t like they were wearing brown uniforms.”

It’s true, they weren’t wearing brown uniforms. But my, how our standards have fallen, I thought.

The next day, an old friend sent me a link to an op-ed, “Europe’s Jew Hatred, and Ours,” by Bari Weiss, a conservative New York Times writer.

Weiss begins by addressing European anti-Semitism and then pivots to the United States. While she briefly acknowledges that the biggest threat to American Jews comes from the far right, she spends far more time highlighting Muslim attacks on Jews and deplores the “hatred from the left, which comes cloaked in the language of progressive values.” Weiss concludes by vaguely insinuating that this is what will lead to another Holocaust.

While some Muslims, like others, hold anti-Semitic views, and conspiracy theorists have historically found a political home on the left, I believe that white supremacy poses a far greater threat to American Jews. At a time when President Donald Trump is condoning anti-Semitism and imparting legitimacy to white nationalists, we should focus our efforts to fight anti-Semitism on those who have the potential to cause us the greatest harm….

continue reading at The Progressive

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The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Is the ​Inevitable Result of​ Trump’s Vile Nationalism

By Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, October 27, 2018

Shame on all those who have been silent—or, worse, supported the president’s agenda.

We don’t yet know everything that motivated the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers. And, truth be told, we may never know exactly what psychological aberrance led to his deadly rampage this Saturday morning.

Bower’s twitter postings, however, give at least a partial window into his soul. The man is a rabid nationalist. He believes that Jews seek to control the world. He is convinced that Jews, via HIAS, the refugee-rights and -resettlement organization formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, are bringing in “invaders”—such as the caravan of destitute and terrified Central American families walking their way north through Mexico.

Bowers is a Nazi sympathizer. And, unlike Cesar Sayoc, the man suspected of mailing more than a dozen pipe bombs to political and media figures around the country over the past week, he hates Trump, believing that Trump isn’t nearly nationalist enough and, in fact, is controlled by a cabal of globalist Jews.

But here’s the thing: While Bowers might fashion himself as an anti-Trump figure, the reemergence of deadly anti-Semitic violence perfectly fits the awful political moment Trump himself is presiding over. The viciously nationalist rhetoric Trump now uses at his rallies, his onslaught against “globalists”—the word itself, along with “cosmopolitan” has always been anti-Semitic code for “Jewish”—his demonizing of immigrants, of refugees, of asylum seekers, his accusation that George Soros is somehow behind the caravan of Hondurans and Guatemalans, this is quite simply fodder for anti-Semites. “Soros” to anti-Semites in 2018 is a similar slur to “Rothschild” in the previous century….

continue reading at The Nation

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Trump to ease enforcement of limits on church political activity

By Naomi Jagoda and Lydia Wheeler, The Hill, 5/03/17

President Trump is set to sign an executive order Thursday to make it easier to for churches and other religious groups to participate in politics without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

Trump plans to sign an order in the morning that attempts to overcome a provision in the federal tax code prohibiting religious organizations from directly opposing or endorsing political candidates. This prohibition is known as the “Johnson amendment,” because it was proposed by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas) in the 1950s.

Easing restrictions on church political activity has been a longtime priority for Trump, social conservatives and a number of congressional Republicans. They argue the Johnson amendment stifles churches’ First Amendment rights….

continue reading at The Hill

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Churches Are Readying Homes And Underground Railroads To Hide Immigrants From Deportation Under Trump

by Salvador Hernandez and Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed, 2/25/17

Churches across the US are fighting back against the Trump administration’s mandate to ramp up deportations with new sanctuary practices of their own, using private homes in their congregations as shelter and potentially creating a modern-day underground railroad to ferry undocumented immigrants from house to house or into Canada.

Church leaders from California to Illinois and New York told BuzzFeed News they’re willing to take their sanctuary operations for undocumented immigrants underground should federal immigration authorities, emboldened by Trump’s recent directives to take a harder line on deportations, ignore precedent and raid their campuses.

“We’re willing to take that risk because it is our call to justice, and this is how we live our faith,” Rev. Justo Gonzalez II, pastor of Pilgrim St. Luke’s in Buffalo, told BuzzFeed News. He leads one of the churches that has reached out to an organization in Canada to possibly take in undocumented families….

continue reading at BuzzFeed

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