A few Jewish friends who happen to work in Jewish organizations have recently said on Facebook that they have received the anti-Semitic robocall that’s going around. Rabbi Milder of Congregation Beth Emek in Pleasanton was one of them and I’m sharing what he wrote to his congregation.
I got the call.
When I arrived at the temple yesterday morning, there was a voice message on my answering machine. It was a campaign message in support of Senate candidate Patrick Little. It described incumbent Senator Diane Feinstein as an Israeli citizen, who sends US soldiers to die in Israel. It said that Little would rid the government of Jews and end the Jewish control of our country.
The message was several minutes long, and as vile an expression of anti-Semitism as I have ever heard. It was an all-out attack on Jews as enemies of everything American.
Little is not the source of this message, which the J says emanates from a white supremacist in Idaho. At the same time, Little has been outspoken in his anti-Semitism, and refused to dissociate himself from the call.
[If you do not already subscribe to the J, I urge you to do so. Their articles covering this topic are some of the best Jewish reporting anywhere.]
Synagogues may not endorse candidates for public office, which is a good thing. However, we have a responsibility to call out anti-Semitism in the rhetoric of candidates, and hold them accountable for their response to anti-Semitic campaign calls. Little has joined forces with the ugliest underside of America’s white nationalists, and it is necessary to bring that to the public’s attention.
This is not the first time that American Jews have had to identify anti-Semitism in campaign rhetoric. I think back to Patrick Buchanan’s presidential campaign, which was denounced by the ADL. What has happened this year across the country, with multiple candidates boldly espousing the most vile, hate-filled speech, goes further than any election that I can recall.
Little has been disavowed by the Republican Party, which wants nothing to do with him and his like.
For Jews to call out anti-Semites is not just necessary; it is our patriotic duty.
Rabbi Larry Milder