July 16, 2019
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement deploring the rising tide of antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia poisoning our politics:
“Founded in 1939 as a response to virulent antisemitism in the upper Midwest, the JCRC has been at the forefront of securing our community against the threat posed by violent antisemitism. Whether this threat stems from the white nationalists responsible for the murder of Jews at prayer in Pittsburgh or Poway, or the international terrorism of Hamas whose leadership just days ago implored Palestinians living abroad to ‘attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing, if God permits,’ the JCRC’s most important mission is to keep our community safe.
“Beyond the realm of physical security, we also push back against politicians, partisans, and demagogues who employ antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric to advance their agendas. We criticize advocates on both the right and left when they employ ancient antisemitic tropes.
“We also come to the defense of Jews who are isolated and excluded by their peers on college campuses or in progressive spaces because these Jews refuse to denounce Israel as the price of admission for being what the far left considers a ‘good Jew.’
“We are increasingly dismayed by President Trump’s abuse of antisemitism and the debate over Israel to demonize his political opponents while using language that the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt accurately described as employing ‘two racist tropes.’
“The President’s racist tweets in response to sharp criticism of the Administration’s immigration policies by four first-term Congresswomen of color, including Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar, are unacceptable.
“As the criticism mounted against the president, Mr. Trump said: ‘[s]o sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion.’
“On multiple occasions, the JCRC has forcefully criticized Congresswoman Omar when she employed antisemitic tropes. No matter how strongly we continue to disagree with Congresswoman Omar’s position on Israel or BDS, this is not an excuse for the president to say things that Republican Congressman William Hurd rightly described as ‘racist and xenophobic.’ Many other elected officials, including here in Minnesota, have said as much.
“Finally, as Jews, we are disgusted when politicians, regardless of their party or political agenda, selectively use antisemitism and/or Israel as a political football to score points against their ideological opponents. When this occurs, not only do Jews and Israel lose, but so does any chance of having a rational debate over the serious issues, including immigration, which continues to divide our nation.”
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.