Many groups have been offended by Donald Trump since the businessman announced his candidacy for president last summer. This time, it is Jewish groups that have had enough of Trump.
The Anti-Defamation League today announced it will “redirect” money donated by Trump in previous years to the organization and divert it to anti-discrimination education programs as a result of the candidate’s increased hateful behavior.
“In light of the recent campaign, we have decided to redirect the total amount of funds that he contributed to ADL over the years specifically into anti-bias education programs that address exactly the kind of stereotyping and scapegoating that have been injected into this political season,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt in a statement released Monday.
The ADL’s action follows an announcement last week from 40 rabbis from around the country saying they would boycott Trump’s speech at the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday, citing Trump’s policies and hateful rhetoric. AIPAC is a lobby group that has invited all of this year’s presidential candidates to speak at its annual conference, which starts Monday.
While Trump has said that as president he will remain “neutral” on the issue between Israel and the Palestinians, the larger concern among Jewish groups is Trump’s alarming comfort with hate speech and his authoritarian style. Some liken his call for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and his pledge to round up and deport undocumented immigrants to how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany.
“Jewish history teaches that when hatred is unleashed, it takes on a life of its own,” said Rabbi Jeffery Salkin, one of the organizers of the rabbi boycott, in a statement.
The ADL also called on other groups and philanthropies to redirect donations from Trump to similar programs to combat hate and discrimination and instead promote tolerance and acceptance.
According to the ADL’s estimates, Trump has donated $56,000 to the organization in the past 10 years.
“Our history, our faith and our values teach us that we cannot sit idly by when others are singled out for derision and when intolerance is fed,” Greenblatt wrote Sunday in an article published in Time magazine, citing Trump’s “penchant to slander minorities, slur refugees, dismiss First Amendment protections and cheer on violence.”
Meanwhile, the large Jewish Reform movement also criticized Donald Trump’s “hate speech” last week and called his campaign bigoted.
“His campaign has been replete with naked appeals to bigotry, especially against Hispanics and Muslims. Previous comments he has made — and not disavowed — have been offensive to women, people of color, and other groups,” said a statement from the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. “In recent days, increasingly, he appears to have gone out of his way to encourage violence at his campaign events. At every turn, Mr. Trump has chosen to take the low road, sowing seeds of hatred and division in our body politic.”
The movement said while Trump has not necessarily singled out Jewish people in his rhetoric, his attitudes toward other groups are similar to what Jews have experienced when persecuted throughout history.
“Mr. Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric reminds us that our own ancestors’ access to American shores of freedom and promise were once blocked, with deadly consequences. When he speaks hatefully of Mexicans or Muslims, for example, we recall a time when anti-Semitism put Jews at deathly danger, even in the United States. We cannot remain silent, for we have been commanded to ‘remember the heart of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,'” the movement said. “We, the leadership of the Reform Jewish Movement, believe we must speak up against such hate speech.”
In a column written this month for the Jewish newspaper Forward, former George W. Bush speechwriter Noam Neusner alluded to that sentiment as well.
“These are the darkest days for Republican Jews like myself,” he wrote, adding that Trump “has built within our party the nearest thing America has ever seen to a European nativist working-class political movement. Such movements, to put it mildly, have never been good for the Jews or allies of free thought and the free market.”
Along with Trump, Republican candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton will address the three-day AIPAC event this week. Vice President Joe Biden is also scheduled to speak. Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders, the race’s only Jewish candidate, has said he will not attend due to campaign travel on the West Coast.