Guest Column by Ed Rappaport
I am writing to express my great offense at Jeff Kunkes’ column “Do Democrats Really Like Jews?” in the Aug. 19 issue.
Dr. Kunkes, a delegate to the Republican National Convention that selected Donald Trump as its nominee, seeks to disingenuously characterize elected Democrats as anti-Jewish. Curiously, his column does not mention or identify Donald Trump, who famously boasted at a Republican Jewish Coalition candidate forum that “I’m a negotiator like you folks” and later added, “This room negotiates perhaps more than any room I’ve spoken to, maybe more.”
That is the candidate Dr. Kunkes helped nominate, and these remarks, rather than Democrats, deserve rebuke. In reaction to this misguided column, I urge our friends and fellow Jews making up the membership of the Republican Jewish Coalition to formally renounce Donald Trump.
I am not advocating for Hillary Clinton or any other candidate, notwithstanding my personal support for Secretary Clinton. Rather, this letter is to condemn Trump’s hateful rhetoric and actions that have veered into anti-Semitism, demagoguery and incitement of violence — all of which are antithetical to common decency and the tenets of Judaism.
While American Jews may have diverse political beliefs, our common values compel us to reject the candidacy that Trump represents.
What we have witnessed is shameful and worthy of condemnation in the strongest terms.
Trump has implied assent to the use of “Second Amendment remedies” to prevent Hillary Clinton from making judicial appointments. Trump has cozied up to white supremacists such as David Duke.
As if those affronts were not enough, he has traded in anti-Semitic imagery by using the Star of David to depict Hillary Clinton as a money-grubbing Shylock seeking to oppress the masses. Even worse, Trump has recently hired a campaign chief, Steven Bannon, well known for his tolerance of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.
After falsely creating the impression that President Barack Obama is an illegitimate Kenyan-born Muslim, Trump has now repeatedly accused Obama and Clinton of being the founders of Islamic State.
All of these hateful acts require condemnation. These acts would be no more tolerable from a politician of any other race, creed, gender or political party.
The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln and has played a vital role in the development of a progressive modern America.
Illinois Republican Everett Dirksen was instrumental in helping pass the Civil Rights Act.
Dwight Eisenhower ordered federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., to protect the safety of nine students integrating Central High School.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush presided over America’s success after the decades-long Cold War.
Republican Jewish Coalition board member Norm Coleman published a piece March 3 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune asserting that he would never vote for Trump. The former senator further characterized Trump as a bigot, misogynist, fraud and bully.
Coleman claimed the moral high ground during the nomination process, while Trump could have been defeated, and he deserves our gratitude for taking a politically courageous stand. He was right to forcefully and unequivocally denounce Trump and did so when Trump’s actions revealed him as the danger that he is to our country.
We are a nation that is better than this. Currently, America seems poised to reject Trump resoundingly on Election Day. As delighted as I’ll be with his defeat, that won’t be enough.
His candidacy has ushered in mainstream hatred and demagoguery. These ills are incompatible with Judaism, and all American Jews, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, must reject this bile.
If Trump is defeated ignominiously, then we will have served notice that such despicable conduct will not yield an electoral prize, and we will be able to return to civilly discussing our diverse political beliefs.
Ed Rappaport is senior counsel with the Saylor Law Firm in Midtown.