Progressively Speaking: We must condemn Trump’s ‘send them home’ sentiments

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Progressively Speaking: We must condemn Trump’s ‘send them home’ sentiments

In wake of the US President's controversial comments about four congresswomen, Rabbi Danny Rich says Jews must call him out

Rabbi Danny Rich

Recent wrangles between four congresswomen and Donald Trump, in which cries of “send her home” have been heard, are absurd, dangerous and inimical to the Jewish ideal of a single humanity under the sovereignty of a single God.

The US president demeans his office by his regular foolish, ignorant and sometimes even misogynist and racist tweets, designed to appeal to the worst of human thought and behaviour. In this case, he is also distorting the notion of patriotism.

Patriotism, by which I mean a commitment to, if not a love of, the country in which one was born or to which one was brought or where one has decided to reside, is a virtue and a Jewish duty.

Based in the Biblical instruction of the prophet Jeremiah (29:7) “to seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you…”, rabbinic tradition evolve the concept of dina malchuta dina: the law of the land is the law.

The lived experience of Jews further demonstrates that, in addition to the minima required, Jewish communities have made major contributions to the societies among whom they have lived in virtually all aspects of human endeavour.

The Jewish people began their historical existence in a single place, but primarily conquest — and occasionally choice — spread them throughout the countries and nations of the world.

As our history has taught us that despite the contribution of Jews to the host society, and even when the Jewish community has been invited by the local ruler, prejudice has often made it difficult for Jews to be welcomed as Jews and they have often fallen victim to suspicion, persecution and cries of “go back to where you have come from”.

The earliest ancestor I know about arrived in England from Amsterdam in 1760. My four children, my two-month-old grandson and I were all born in London. Were it said to me “go home”, what could I reply other than, “I am home”?

What is true of Jews is equally the case with others, and where a person lives may be an accident of birth, a choice of parents or previous generations, or the result of trauma including war, famine or natural disaster.

That is why all Jews, and all democrats, should condemn sentiments such as Donald Trump’s in all circumstances.

  •  Danny Rich is Liberal Judaism’s Senior Rabbi 
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