CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS STATEMENT CONDEMNING ASSAULTS ON AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
By RABBI RONALD SEGAL
The Central Conference of American Rabbis condemns, in the strongest terms, the multiple assaults waged against American democracy from inside and outside the United States Capitol. Inside, a minority of Senators and members of Congress, seeking to subvert the will of the American people, attempted to reverse the result of our recent presidential election on the basis of lies, slander, and groundless conspiracy theories. Outside, the President of the United States incited a band of his followers to storm the citadel of our nation’s democracy, an act of terror that threatened the lives of members of Congress, Senators, Capitol Hill employees, and law enforcement officers.
We should not have been surprised. For two months now, President Trump and some of his supporters have endeavored to undermine American democracy. The President has employed harsh and dangerous words in attempts to intimidate members of his own Party to replace the electoral majority with his own will. We learn from Proverbs, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). The President has wielded the power of words dangerously, and today, our country tragically experienced the violence and fear his tongue has wrought.
Still, Reform rabbis hold on to hope, and we urge members of our communities and the American people not to despair. On the very day of the most dramatic assault on American democracy in more than 150 years, we are reassured by the decisions of Vice President Pence and Senate Majority Leader McConnell to defy the President’s unlawful and immoral orders and instead uphold the Constitution. In the wake of today’s harrowing ordeal at our nation’s Capitol, we are hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can now come together to restore faith in American democracy, and that under the leadership of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, our elected leaders will work to unify and bring renewed hope to our divided nation.
Let order and peace be restored. Let democracy prevail. Let our nation’s motto, E pluribus unum, be animated by millions of Americans, coming together to build unity with diversity. Let freedom ring.
Rabbi Ronald Segal, President
Rabbi Hara E. Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis
PLEASE, STOP VIOLENCE
By DR. GLENN MOLLETTE
Acts of violence against a marriage partner have never saved a marriage. Violent acts toward family members have never made a family happier. Typically, they create emotional and sometimes physical wounds that are never forgotten. Too many families have suffered because someone in the family became violent.
Violence in our communities and towns always results in pain, division and sometimes even loss of life. Violence typically brings the wrong people together to do bad things. No community, city or state needs this.
In times of war or enemy aggression against our United States, violence has been necessary. Acts of war have never been pleasant. They result in the loss of life and horrific debilitation of so many people physically and mentally. Most Americans do not want to be at war with anyone.
In years past, we have had to protect our country against those who sought to harm us. The Second Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms and protect ourselves. We are grateful for our military but we pray for peace. None of us want our family members actively involved in combat if it can be avoided.
Violence like we saw last week at the United States Capitol was criminal. It helped no one. It solved nothing. Everyone who traveled to hear President Trump speak should have bought a nice dinner in D.C. and then traveled back to their families. Unlawfully entering the Capitol was wrong and was carried out in a violent criminal way. People were killed. Offices were torn apart and doors broken down. Staffers were terrified for their lives. This should never have happened. Many of these criminals will eventually be arrested and spend time in jail.
This act of criminal stupidity did nothing to advance or help President Trump. If they had stopped in front of the Capitol and given speeches, yelled, screamed, waved their signs throughout the day and then gone home the results would have been better. Terrorism never produces positive results. Destruction of the property of others and the terrorism of people are savage and criminal.
This same kind of unnecessary violence was seen in many of our cities last summer. I traveled to Cleveland, Ohio after a march had taken place and saw the results of acts of violence. I saw almost all of downtown Cleveland boarded up. Businesses were closed. Hotels were closed. Very few restaurants were open. For weeks my family was afraid to stop in downtown Louisville because of the protests and disruption occurring in the city.
In the United States of America, individuals, groups and organizations have the absolute right to march, protest and exercise their free speech. However, the destruction of buildings and businesses are acts of violence and are criminal. The people who shut down sections of cities throughout our country should be arrested for their behavior. An acquaintance, who lived outside Seattle for many years, was terrified to travel back to that city last year.
Violence against Democrats or Republicans will not bring this country back together. Invasion and violence against the Capitol solved nothing but ruined some lives. Violence will not change the results of the election. Joe Biden will be the President of the United States for the next four years.
March, protest, yell, scream and financially support organizations who promote your point of view. But please, put your guns, pipe bombs and hatred away.
Glenn Mollett, Washington, D.C.
Apple, Rabbi Dr. Raymond, Jerusalem, Israel,
Berg, Rabbi Steven, Los Angeles, California
Mollette, Glenn, Washington, D.C., contributing columnist
Reuben, Liz editor
Sackett, Shmuel, contributing columnist
Sattath, Rabbi Noa, Jerusalem, Israel, contributing columnist
Schwartz, Richard, PhD, Staten Island, New York,
Veltmeyer, James Dr., La Jolla, California, contributing columnist
The Jewish Observer Los Angeles holds itself harmless from any and all representations made in this opinion/editorial section. The paper does not necessarily agree with all or any opinions or editorials published. Freedom of speech is a Constitutional right which entitles every voice to be heard in a civil manner. This paper does not publish language of bigotry, hatred, racism and any other vile aspects of English language to defame, hurt or harm another person via publication. It aims to abide by the tenants of Judaism.
BIDDING BIDEN WELL: BEING BIPARTISAN IS BETTER FOR
By EZRA FRIEDLANDER
Now that the election is behind us, the contentiousness and tension of the campaign and election seasons should too be left behind. It is of the upmost importance to share our perspectives on the conduct of the election and how to move forward.
This should represent an opportunity to reckon with ourselves and our conduct throughout the campaign. Before anyone gets heated allow me to explain, we should recognize what is beneath the façade of militant identification to a candidate.
In the aftermath of the 2020 Election, I feel a conversation with my fellow Jewish brethren is warranted. I would like to make clear: this is not in any way partisan nor meant to admonish anyone, rather to remind each other of the proper Jewish conduct in the general public, especially in the face of the most contentious Presidential election in our nation's history.
What is most troubling and worrisome is the potential long-term ramifications and the probable negative fallout this past campaign will take on the Jewish community. Allow me to elaborate; while engaging in the political process and the subsequent discourse regarding which candidate would be a better president is “as American as apple pie” and ought to be encouraged, there is a line that when crossed could negatively impact the welfare of our Jewish community today, and even more so in the future.
Having the Jewish community engaged in political campaigns on both sides is beneficial. We all have a right, as individuals, to our political viewpoints, and to engage with them. In fact, we should be encouraged to do so.
However, what I and many of us witnessed this past year was cult-like behavior. The cult-like behavior expressed itself in messianic terms, framing the candidate in idolatrous proportions, clouding our judgment in evaluating the candidate and his policies and inhibiting his followers from practically assessing the opponent.
This behavior is an amateur manifestation of how to engage in the political process, it doesn't bring support to your candidate, it actually diminishes the importance of the election and why you should support that candidate in the first place. More compelling to us, it exudes unwanted attention to our community. Yes, unwanted attention is a negative byproduct of such idolatry-politics.
While others may counter my argument saying that this is simply how the campaign in the general public was run, that should never be an excuse for Jews; for better or for worse we are held to different standards.
Another negative aspect I've witnessed is the denigration of the opposing candidate to the extent that it can cause lasting damage to building relationships. In this age when media can be transmitted to literally millions of people instantaneously, the imagery coming out of our community in the months leading up to the election was reminiscent of demagoguery. This persisted to the point where the image of our community being led by and consisting of active proponents of such idolatry became widespread. This portrayal is diametrically opposed to our values and how our community actually behaves.
Granted, it is only a few, but because of our distinct dress and behavior this is easily manipulated by those who don’t share our interests and who seek to negatively portray us. If not addressed thus could become more widespread within our community.
As someone who is in constant interaction with the secular world at large, I can tell you that the noise our community created pertaining to the election was nothing short of the complete opposite of what our community should portray itself as and the complete opposite of what our community has historically portrayed itself as.
Especially as someone in the government and public relations fields, I can tell you with absolute confidence this is detrimental to our community’s security and political influence.
I know the prevailing argument in the street is “so what who cares?”, but honestly (I reiterate this 1000000 times) only by building bridges, by establishing relationships with and engaging others, especially those with different viewpoints, can a minority community like ours survive. By staying in our little cocoon, we will never be able to achieve the results we so desperately need.
Now that Joe Biden is the acknowledged President-Elect, we as Jews have a moral obligation, to pray for his success as we did for our outgoing President, Donald Trump. This is the Jewish way.
Even if you did not vote for Joe Biden and wished for him to lose, understand that you and your community's survival and success is dependent on the nuance of our political maneuvering and the democratic process.
I firmly believe it is in the interest of our community to promulgate bipartisanship; the existence of our community is contingent on bipartisanship. A pertinent example: President Trump’s commutation of the unjust and outrageous sentence of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. People did not realize that there was an inconspicuous effort to secure the support of prominent Democrats to support the commutation, including the liberal icon then House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
This show of bipartisan unity was not only a vital piece in securing Rubashkin’s commutation, but in fact was even highlighted by the Trump White House. Even in an additional case, the Nachmani case (another travesty of justice), it was Democrats who at direct request of the White House threw their support behind commuting her sentence.
I am not trying to diminish President Trump’s role in these commutations, in fact he deserves the lion’s-share of the credit and then some, rather I am trying to emphasize that it is behind these casual observances of bipartisanship that amazing feats of politics are achieved. It is the best strategic move to maintain a foothold in both parties. We must cross the aisle continuously.
In no way am I saying that I do not want anyone to criticize the incoming Biden administration. We must criticize the President when he makes a mistake, whomever he may be. It is vital to the democratic process, but the matter in which we do it makes all the difference.
Today's allies are tomorrow's adversaries, and today's adversaries are tomorrow's allies.
It may seem like we are in one camp today, but this could all turn on a dime, hence the critical need to understand that as American society changes -- and it perpetually does-- we as members of the Jewish community must acknowledge this and pursue policies and behaviors that reflect this.
We all hope that the next four years will be productive and bring us and the whole nation progress, growth, and unity. We pray that the President should receive divine inspiration to govern correctly and efficiently and do the best for America and our community.
Ezra Friedlander is CEO of the Friedlander Group, a New York City and Washington D.C. based public policy consulting group.
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