British Jews round on Donald Trump ahead of his UK visit

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British Jews round on Donald Trump ahead of his UK visit

Two weeks before the presidential hopeful visits the UK, British Jewish leaders have hit out at Donald Trump

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)

British Jews have rounded on Donald Trump ahead of his visit to the UK on 22 June, with condemnation of his rhetoric and policies from the Board of Deputies as well as Reform and Liberal Judaism.

Senior leaders of the Jewish community spoke as one as they slammed the presumptive Republican nominee’s “bigotry” and his “divisive” comments.

Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said she “strongly supported” American counterparts who have made it their mission to protest against him throughout the summer and autumn.

She said: “We strongly support American liberal Jews in challenging Donald Trump and stand in solidarity with our sister movement the Union for Reform Judaism who have spoken out against his ‘naked appeals to bigotry’.”

Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “Mr Trump’s recent comments have been divisive and troubling. The world has long looked to the U.S. as a beacon of progress, tolerance and free thinking. Some of Mr Trump’s remarks undermine these values.”

Continuing the criticism, Arkush added: “[Trump] has not moved decisively enough to distance himself from extremist supporters. [He] should now be considering the far reaching consequences of his remarks and policy proposals before more damage is done.”

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich echoed those thoughts, saying that while this was a matter for the U.S. electorate, “we share the concerns of our Liberal Jewish colleagues”.

On the presumptive Republican nominee, he added: “I fear that some of Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of a growing intolerance, and inability to discuss things rationally, that we are currently seeing in political debate all around the world.”

Trump, who is coming to the UK to open his new hotel in Scotland, has said he supports a British exit from the European Union because immigration had been “a horrible thing”.

In New York last month, a 500-strong alliance of liberal Jews announced that they would be campaigning against Trump throughout the summer and autumn months.

The Bend the Arc coalition have already created a mock online “registry” of Jews, in humourous reference to Trump’s call for a registry of American Muslims, which David Cameron said was “divisive, stupid and wrong”.

The group has also produced online adverts reading: “The ugly anti-immigrant rhetoric of today sounds painfully familiar to American Jews.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), last month told Forward that “we haven’t seen this kind of kind of mainstreaming of intolerance at this level” for decades.

He added: “These ideas have no place in the mainstream and we’ll do what we need to make sure that folks understand that.”

Jonny Daniels – who met Trump while working in Israel politics and helped arrange his endorsement of Benjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign last year, said: “There is definitely place for discourse and discussion, but the ‘leaders’ of British Jewry must also understand that Mr Trump could likely be the next President of the United States. While we may not all agree with everything he says, he will still continue his lifelong support and friendship with the the Jewish State. Outright attacks on him will do more harm than good.”

He added: “Mr Tump is by no means a racist. In my personal relationship with him for many years, I’ve seen a strong, brash, informed businessman with a deep connection to Israel.”

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