Trump, Bannon, Bibi and…the Musical Hamilton

Categories: Letters from the Leadership
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Last week I wrote about Ameinu’s activity addressing the challenges of the election of Donald Trump and Bibi Netanyahu’s ongoing reign over the most right-wing Israeli government in history. I promised that I would be in touch with an update.

I hope you saw that on Friday we issued an open letter to the president-elect, joined by another 11 Jewish organizations.  We worked to enlist like-minded organizations; other groups have issued their own statements and letters. I am pleased to report that due to the urgency of the situation, coordination is excellent.   I hope you will share this letter in your Jewish and political circles.

The thrust of our letter touches upon the main points that will be at the top of our agenda in the coming weeks and months.

In the letter we call upon the president-elect to “emphatically reject anti-Semitism….and to fight discrimination in all of its ugly and un-American forms.” In this light, we state that the appointment of Steve Bannon to a Senior Counselor in the White House “runs counter to these principles and should be rescinded for the sake of the American people and the honor of the government of the United States.”  Our opposition to Bannon is but the first step in our efforts to oppose all unqualified and dangerous appointments, including Senator Jeff Sessions and General Michael Flynn.

In addition, we urged President-elect Trump to continue U.S. policy in support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for the United States to play an active role in achieving this vision.  Ameinu has fought this dangerous trend since it was first announced in the Republican Platform.

I have been asked, what difference does a letter like this make? Alone not much….but it is part of a strategy, one that includes building a broad coalition of organizations who are committed to countering Trump’s impact in both the United States and Israel. These are the early days of what will need to be a sustained resistance, using the widest variety of activist tools at our disposal.

I am a big fan of the musical Hamilton in which Aaron Burr sings “I want to be in the room where it happens.” One way Ameinu promotes our agenda is through opportunities where we are in private conversations that take place at “tables” in both the United States and Israel where we have a place; we indeed are regularly in the “room where it happens.” When we hear statements by Israeli officials about the new American administration, in particular Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s praise for Steve Bannon, we have already raised our concerns directly, as well as in public statements.

There are members of the Israel government and the settler movement who see an opportunity with Trump’s election to foreclose the possibility of a two state solution ever being realized. As progressive Zionists who are passionate about protecting Israel, we must do everything within our power to both support our colleagues in Israel and galvanize the American Jewish community against such steps. Here too, we will resist all efforts to undermine Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

We need your support so we can help lead this fight.  I wrote last week that we speak truth to power, but frankly it costs money to amplify your voice on these issues so we can work with like-minded organizations and individuals to make it clear that we represent the majority of American Jews.  I promise that we will use your contribution to resist attempts in both the United States and Israel to cross lines that violate our core progressive Jewish values.

Thank you for your support.

Kenneth Bob, President

P.S. Please contribute today; we will continue to update you on how you can be an activist in this struggle.

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