We, the undersigned Jewish community organizations, stand together in denouncing racism and xenophobia in all circumstances. We share a belief that public figures, including those who aspire to hold elected office in service to people of all races and religions, have a responsibility to forcefully and unequivocally condemn these dangerous phenomena.
The Jewish community knows all too well what can happen when particular religious or ethnic groups become the focus of invective. We have witnessed the dangerous acts that can follow verbal expressions of hate. Jews and members of other religious minorities have found safety in the United States, thanks to this nation’s commitment to religious freedom, civil rights, and refugee protection. Yet these values that are pillars of our nation’s strength cannot be taken for granted; rather, they must be renewed and protected in every generation.
We are deeply concerned by suggestions that Muslim Americans should be targeted by law enforcement, simply because of their faith. We object to hurtful characterizations of entire ethnic groups as criminals. We are pained by anti-Semitic epithets hurled at Jewish Americans on social media.
We are also disheartened that refugees, particularly Syrians and Muslims, have become targeted in recent months and years as subjects of xenophobia. These concerns are heightened by statements made in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando tying that act of horror to an entire faith tradition, rather than the vile actions of an evil individual. This inflammatory rhetoric does not make our communities safer—in fact, it exposes us to more violence and division. Policies targeted at restricting refugees are often steeped in suspicion, ignoring the many benefits refugees bring to our communities as well as overlooking the fact that refugees are the most thoroughly vetted individuals who enter the U.S.
Judaism teaches us to see the value in every human being, as we are all created in the image of God. The normalization of hate speech cannot become a reality in the United States. It is vital that all people of goodwill stand in solidarity against bigotry and intolerance. Our Jewish values also teach us to “love the stranger” and welcome refugees and immigrants who arrive in the U.S. wanting the same things we all want—peace, safety, and opportunities for themselves and their children.
We call on all Americans—in their communities and on the national stage—to refrain from and denounce all forms of hatred and extremism. We call on all Americans who support or endorse candidates for public office to loudly and clearly condemn any and all racist and xenophobic language and actions. Instead, we must demonstrate commitment to our proud American and Jewish values of religious freedom, civil rights, refugee protection, and equality for all.
HIAS Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, its members: Ameinu American Jewish World Service
AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps
Bend the Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Challah for Hunger
Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jews United for Justice
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
JOIN for Justice
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
National Council of Jewish Women
New Israel Fund
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Repair the World
T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism