I grew up at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. I attended Zaban since infancy, sweated through Camp Isidore Alterman, switched to drama camp when I discovered it was air-conditioned, had my first job as a junior counselor at Camp Marie Benator and continue to work out with my mom at the JCC’s gym.
I joined the rest of the Atlanta Jewish community in shock and outrage upon hearing that the JCC recently received its second bomb threat since January.
As I learned at the Epstein School, anti-Semitism is insidious and pervasive, and we must meet it with unequivocal condemnation. That is why I’m so disheartened by Bernie Marcus’ continued support for President Donald Trump and his senior counselor, Stephen Bannon. Marcus has vocally defended and endorsed the current administration despite its hateful rhetoric.
Another lesson from Jewish history: Words matter. Trump and Bannon may not be ordering these threats, but they’ve built a climate conducive to hateful acts and emboldened the alt-right (a neo-Nazi by any other name would smell as rancid).
I’ve seen many attempts to defend the current administration against allegations of anti-Semitism. They tend to involve the facts that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are Jewish and Bannon supports Israel.
But I also saw Trump silence an Orthodox Jewish journalist for asking him to denounce anti-Semitism and saw Trump take more than a month after assuming office to heed this request.
I’ve read articles on the website Bannon ran attacking multiple minority groups, making it clear that his support for Israel stems from his own Islamophobia rather than any fondness for the Jewish people.
I’ve heard Trump suggest that we, the Jewish people, are vandalizing our own cemeteries and threatening the community centers where our babies learn to crawl to make him look bad.
At best, they’re complicit.
At Epstein, we memorized that quote by Martin Niemöller about the Nazis: “They came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.” That is why I believe it’s imperative for the Atlanta Jewish community, especially its leaders, to speak out against a leader who has been endorsed by former Klansman David Duke, current American Nazi Party Chair Rocky Suhayada and white nationalist William Johnson (to name a few).
The security of our community is at stake, Mr. Marcus. We’re counting on you.
— Mallory Harris, Dunwoody