With a bigot like Bannon at Trump’s side, ‘never again’ is happening right now
“Never again.” These two words haunt the moral imaginations of many American Jews who grew up on the survival stories of our elders. In particular, Ashkenazi Jewish institutions have invested millions of dollars into Nazi Holocaust education, making sure this phrase is imprinted in our brains.
And so in the past few weeks, as we process the election of a man who has promised mass deportation and religious bans while rising to power on a juggernaut of white nationalist propaganda, we recommit to never again letting fascism rule.
We have learned the warning signs of fascism all our lives. And yet, the very same Jewish institutions that taught us about our genocide are utterly failing to take a stand, opting instead to normalize dangerous choices, stifle dissent and, in the process, expose their own hypocrisy.
When the Jewish Federations of North America told Donald Trump in an open letter that “we very much look forward to working closely with you and your administration,” we were disgusted — but not surprised. Many of the repressive approaches to governing that we fear in a Trump presidency have long been tacitly accepted by Jewish institutions that promote a defend-Israel-at-all-costs philosophy.
Our local Jewish Federation recently released an admirable community statement on behalf of 20 local Jewish organizations calling for tolerance and understanding: “Together we pledge that our organizations and congregations will continue to be places of safety, protecting the vulnerable, reaching out to those who are under threat and offering them our allegiance and support.” Why, then, have the Jewish Federations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, failed to oppose the appointment of Stephen Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor?
Bannon has long used his platform as leader of Breitbart News to incite violence towards Muslims, people of color, women, immigrants, Jews, and people with disabilities. He openly claims that his website is an intellectual home for the movement that calls itself the “alt-right,” a far-right fringe movement that embraces white nationalism and a range of racist and anti-immigrant positions. Self-proclaimed alt-right members were recently captured on on film saluting Nazi-style and shouting “Hail Victory!” — a translation of the Nazi battle cry, “Sieg Heil!”
Bannon has a documented history of anti-Jewish rhetoric, including trying to stop his children from attending school with Jewish kids. His appointment confirms Trump’s commitment to make his repulsive campaign promises reality.
In order to protect Israel, too many Jewish organizations, among them the Jewish Federations of North America, have welcomed Trump to the White House and remained silent about the appointment of Bannon. Consistent with its anti-Muslim agenda, Bannon’s Breitbart News Network regularly publishes articles that pander to right-wing Israeli political elements while simultaneously trafficking in anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny and anti-Muslim bigotry.
Jewish organizations should be ashamed to put their pro-Israel interests above the security of Muslims, people of color, women, With a bigot like Bannon at Trump’s side, ‘never again’ is happening right now | The Lens: