WASHINGTON – Responding to concerns that elected leaders are using anti-Semitism as a wedge issue to score political points, Interfaith Alliance coordinated a letter to Congressional leaders signed by more than 20 religious and faith-based organizations, including groups representing Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist Judaism. The letter, which is included in full below, also raises concerns about the use of Nazi references to demonize political opponents. The signatories call for an end to the posturing and a recommitment to a constructive bipartisan approach to combating anti-Semitism.
In the joint letter to congressional leadership, the signatories wrote: “We welcome bipartisan efforts aimed at combating anti-Semitism. However, much of the recent rhetoric and political maneuvering on the issue seems cynically focused on showing that one party cares more about anti-Jewish bigotry than the other. This political theater is not only counter-productive, but endangers the very people such advocates claim to defend.”
Along with Interfaith Alliance, signatories to the letter include Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, American Jewish World Service, Anti-Defamation League, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Faith in Action, Habonim Dror North America, Hadassah, HIAS, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, Keshet, Muslim Public Affairs Council, The Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Union for Reform Judaism, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Uri L’Tzedek, and Washington National Cathedral.
“The leadership of Congress has a special responsibility to encourage civil and constructive discourse in society,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, which organized the letter. “This letter, signed by allies in the protection of Constitutional guarantees, will remind our elected officials of the sacred trust they hold from all faiths to maintain a standard of respect, especially in deliberations within the two chambers of Congress.”
The full letter follows:
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader, United States Senate
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer, Minority Leader, United States Senate
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer, Majority Leader, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader, United States House of Representatives
To Congressional Leadership,
We, a coalition of national communities of faith, write to express our deep concern about the use of anti-Semitism for partisan purposes as well as the use of Holocaust and Nazi comparisons to disparage political opponents. To Congressional Leadership,
Anti-Semitism has a long and dangerous history. Successful efforts to combat it have been rooted in interfaith and bipartisan action. We are distressed to now see anti-Semitism being used as a wedge issue. At the same time, we are also concerned by members of Congress using references to the Holocaust and Nazis to demonize the opposition. Most recently, one member of Congress quoted directly from Mein Kampf on the floor of the House of Representatives in his effort to criticize the other side of the political aisle. Such behavior is deeply offensive and ultimately harmful to our democracy.
We welcome bipartisan efforts aimed at combating anti-Semitism. However, much of the recent rhetoric and political maneuvering on the issue seems cynically focused on showing that one party cares more about anti-Jewish bigotry than the other. This political theater is not only counter-productive, but endangers the very people such advocates claim to defend.
Anti-Semitism has a significant impact on the lives of American Jews, contributing to a culture in which Jews are afraid to openly express their faith. In a nation founded by those seeking religious freedom, we cannot allow this phenomenon to become normalized. Any solution to the rising trend of anti-Semitism must include Democrats, Republicans and Independents working together. Last year, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum warned, “As the Holocaust recedes in time, some Americans (and Europeans) are becoming increasingly casual and disrespectful to the mass murder of millions.” The United States Congress should not add to that problem.
Last year’s horrifying massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue, carried out by a professed white supremacist, should be a stark reminder that we need our political leaders to be uncompromising in calling out anti-Semitism and bringing our country together. We also expect you to show the same vigilance in confronting bigotry targeting other minority faith communities. Only by working together can we live up to the highest aspirations of our nation, founded in principles of religious liberty and tolerance for all.
We must all strive to do better. Please join us in calling on your colleagues to stop using anti-Semitism and accusations of hate to win votes and seek political advantage.
|Interfaith Alliance||J Street|
|Americans for Peace Now||Muslim Public Affairs Council|
|American Jewish World Service||The Rabbinical Assembly|
|Anti-Defamation League||Reconstructing Judaism|
|Central Conference of American Rabbis||Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association|
|Faith in Action||T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights|
|Habonim Dror North America||Union for Reform Judaism|
|Hadassah||Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America|
|Jewish Council for Public Affairs||Washington National Cathedral|
|Jewish Labor Committee|
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.