An open letter to Donald Trump from Orthodox rabbis


The Orthodox Community Responds to Donald Trump at AIPAC

March 18, 2016

Dear Mr. Trump:

We are writing to you as you prepare to address the largest pro-Israel gathering in North America. We care deeply not only about America’s relationship with Israel, but the values and character of this special land. We hope you will use this occasion to articulate the values that friends of Israel hold so dear.

To begin, you should use this opportunity to categorically repudiate racism. There is simply no place for it in our shared discourse. As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel enshrined in law its commitment to protect the rights all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex. When the Jewish people returned to Israel after centuries of persecution and exile, they chose to pursue a path of inclusivity. Rather than perpetuate a culture of prejudice, they chose instead to create a culture of tolerance. Freedom of worship is sacrosanct in the Holy Land and upon its founding, Israel’s government vowed to safeguard the holy places of all religions. You should declare in no uncertain terms that bigotry is as dangerous as it is wrong.

We also call upon you to denounce the language of hatred and xenophobia. There is no mitzvah in the Torah repeated more often than the embrace of the stranger. The Jewish story is itself the history of exiles seeking shelter; of refugees seeking asylum. And since it became a sovereign nation, Israel has proudly stood by and supported peoples of all backgrounds in their times of need: From Haiti to Taiwan; from Sudan to Nepal. Jewish tradition demands that we look past what separates us and instead keep our eyes trained on our shared humanity.

Finally, you need to reassure our community that you understand that there can be no moral equivalency between a sovereign government acting in self-defense on the one hand and a terrorist organization committed to genocide on the other. The pro-Israel community is starving for peace. The notion of shalom represents one of our greatest aspirations – one for which we pray daily. But a lasting peace will only come with the help of a political ally who recognizes Israel’s right to self-determination. Let your listeners know that you would never strong-arm Israel into negotiating a peace deal when Israel has no partner for peace.

Mr. Trump: In these fraught times, make it clear to the pro-Israel community that you stand not only with Israel’s people, but with Israel’s principles. We cannot abide a discourse that inflames intolerance and foments fanaticism. The future of our people is too important.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein

Rabbi Herschel Billet

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

Rabbi Daniel Cohen

Rabbi Mark Dratch

Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman

Rabbi Joel Finkelstein

Rabbi Barry Gelman

Rabbi Yaakov Gibber

Rabbi Yaakov Glasser

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Rabbi Zev Goldberg

Rabbi Moshe Grussgott

Rabbi Kenneth Hain

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld

Rabbi Joshua Hess

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin

Rabbi Simcha Krauss

Rabbi Joel Landau

Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

Rabbi Yosie Levine

Rabbi Marc Mandel

Rabbi Adam Mintz

Rabbi Jonathan Muskat

Rabbi Elazar Muskin

Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky

Rabbi Zev Reichman

Rabbi Shaul Robinson

Rabbi Zvi Romm

Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg

Rabbi Mordechai Sevy

Rabbi Adam Starr

Rabbi Josh Strulowitz

Rabbi Mayer Waxman

Rabbi Jay Weinstein

Rabbi Neil N. Winkler

Rabbi Alan J. Yuter

Rabbi Dovid Zirkind


Are these rabbis aware of Israel’s restrictive immigration policy? Do they think Muslims can immigrate to Israel? Because I want the US to have the same restrictive immigration policy and the same type of walls that Israel has and I would hate to think that Modern Orthodox rabbis deem it normal to have one standard of acceptable behavior for themselves, and a totally different standard for the goy.

I have no objection to dual morality systems (where you have one ethic for how you treat members of your in-group and another ethic for how you treat outsiders). Most peoples have this, but it is a bit rich for exponents of a dual morality system such as Orthodox Judaism to lecture outsiders on the evils of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

A friend: “The rabbinate has not gotten the memo that the rest of the world is on to them and this is a perilous course for them to follow.”

My first response to these rabbis is that their letter is not, thank God, from the Orthodox Jewish community. It is a letter from a handful of Modern Orthodox rabbis who esteem themselves as representing Orthodox Judaism.

Come November, most Orthodox Jews will vote for Donald Trump, whether or not he does any of the things the rabbis urge in this letter. Fighting racism is not much of a concern to the traditional Orthodox Jew. He doesn’t usually recognize “racism” as a sin, rather, it is more like commonsense.

Rabbis: “To begin, you should use this opportunity to categorically repudiate racism.”

What is racism? There is nothing in Torah condemning racism. There is no such sin as “racism” in Torah. This is an entirely made-up moral offense. The term did not even exist prior to the 20th Century.

I’ve never heard a traditional Orthodox rabbi give a sermon against racism in America, against bigotry in America, against intolerance in America, unless he’s referring to Jews as victims of such. The more traditional the Jew, the less he’s concerned with gentiles.

What gadol (great rabbi) has ever written a book against racism? Short answer: None. What gadol has ever written a book about the “values and character of this special land [America]”? Short answer: None.

That no great rabbi has ever written a book on these themes reveals that the claims of this rabbinic letter are a lie. These rabbis are just posing. Their every word drips with deceit.

What gadol has ever written a book propounding beauty of the following: “Israel enshrined in law its commitment to protect the rights all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” Short answer: none.

Contrary to this rabbinic letter, Torah contains many negative statements about blacks (just as the black tradition contains many negative statements about Jews). Here is Rashi’s commentary on Genesis 12:11: “I have known for a long time that you are of beautiful appearance, but now we are coming among black and repulsive people who are brothers of the Kushim (Ethiopians) and are unaccustomed to seeing a beautiful woman.”

I’m not ashamed of what Rashi wrote. I do not think he sinned because I do not believe there is any such sin as racism. It is normal, natural and healthy for members of one group to be less than thrilled with outsiders, and blacks from a white perspective, are outsiders.

I look forward to hearing that these Orthodox rabbis had the courage of their convictions and stood up in front of their congregations and denounced Torah for its bigotry, racism and xenophobia. Let them be consistent and start tearing out pages of Torah that do not comport with modern morality. Let them stand tall for what they believe by having bonfires filled with bigoted sections of Torah. Perhaps they should start with the injunction that non-Jews who steal from Jews should be put to death and as Torah is the property of Jews, goyim who study it should likewise be executed (this has never been practiced in Jewish history, but hey, it’s the principle of the matter).

From Haarez June 14, 2009:

The controversy surrounding journalist Max Blumenthal continues in the wake of the release of his video of intoxicated American Jews in Jerusalem insulting President Barack Obama, but he rejects the claims that the footage fuels anti-Semitism.

The video shows young American Jews, who are apparently very drunk, criticizing Obama for his Mideast policies and describing him in derogatory terms. It has also had more than 400,000 hits on YouTube.

“I have received death threats from people, mainly ones calling me a self-hating Jew. I am self-hating, but my self-hatred has nothing to do with me being Jewish,” Blumenthal told Haaretz this week.

Blumenthal says the ad hominem attacks against him and co-producer and cameraman Joseph Dana are being used to obscure the message of the video, and to ignore the statements made by young Jews who could be the relatives of any of us.

From a black website: “Dov Lior, a popular chief rabbi in Israel, recently called Obama a Kushi, which is Israel’s equivalent to nig*er. Most Americans are completely unaware of the general contempt that many Jewish people have towards blacks, as Max Blumenthal found out when he interviewed dozens of young people in Israel who reiterated the Rabbi’s sentiments about Obama. Blumenthal’s video titled Feeling the Hate in Israel was removed from YouTube, Vimeo, and the Huffington Post shortly after going viral.”

If you could do a secret poll of Orthodox Jews in America and ask them would the country be better or worse off without Muslims, what do you think the result would be? The overwhelming majority of American Orthodox Jews would prefer that America be free of Muslims and of blacks. They also would prefer that Israel be free of Muslims. Most Israelis wish in their hearts that all Palestinians would disappear and I suspect that most Israelis also wish that blacks in Israel would leave.

Rabbis: “There is simply no place for it in our shared discourse.”

If the rabbis believe this, then they are saying there is no place for Torah in America as the Torah tradition contains many statements that would be widely considered racist. Orthodox Jews, more than any other Jewish group, are likely to say things the conventional morality will condemn as bigoted.

Rabbis: “As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel enshrined in law its commitment to protect the rights all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex. When the Jewish people returned to Israel after centuries of persecution and exile, they chose to pursue a path of inclusivity. Rather than perpetuate a culture of prejudice, they chose instead to create a culture of tolerance. Freedom of worship is sacrosanct in the Holy Land and upon its founding, Israel’s government vowed to safeguard the holy places of all religions. You should declare in no uncertain terms that bigotry is as dangerous as it is wrong.”

Israel is the Jewish state run primarily for the benefit of Jews. Non-Jewish citizens of Israel are keenly aware of being outsiders in the Jewish state, much more so than non-whites and non-Christians feel like outsiders in America. I am glad Israel is the Jewish state, and I think it is ludicrous to argue that the Jewish state has pursued “a path of inclusivity” and “a culture of tolerance.” Israelis routinely chant “Death to the Arabs.” Nothing like that goes on at Donald Trump rallies.

I don’t blame Israelis for wishing death to the Arabs, just as I don’t blame Arabs for wishing death to the Jews. Both groups are fighting over scarce resources. It makes rational sense that they would hate each other.

For all its inclusivity and tolerance, Israel is widely hated around the world. Such inclusivity and tolerance has not helped Israel’s safety and well-being. Should America wish to be as hated and vulnerable as Israel? The more tolerant and nice Israel gets, the more vulnerable it becomes.

If Israel can be the Jewish state, why can’t America be a gentile state for a particular people? When Jews pursue nationalism for Jews and multiculturalism for goyim, it is duplicitous. Eventually the goyim will wake up to the con and they won’t be happy.

Rabbis: “We care deeply not only about America’s relationship with Israel, but the values and character of this special land.”

Is anyone not revolted by this oily language? Rabbis do not care about America’s relationship with Israel except to the extent it redounds to the benefit of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Judaism does not have much to say about how Jews should try to shape the values and character of gentile lands. Judaism’s focus is on how Jews should perform its commandments, preferably in the Jewish state.

When minorities talk about American values, they’re usually looking to manipulate the majority into giving them more rights. You never find a large number of Jews fighting on the side of gentile majorities against minority rights, instead you usually find in the diaspora a disproportion of Jews fighting to expand minority rights at the expense of the majority. When it comes to the Jewish state, however, the Torah is clear. There is no room for non-Jewish citizenship and no non-Jewish should ever be in charge of a Jew, not even in charge of water carriers.

The values and character of America that these rabbis are fighting for are whatever they think is best for the Jews such as multiculturalism and mass immigration, things that are bad for America’s white majority. Different groups have different interests. Jews aren’t being un-American or perfidious in pursuing their group interests over the interests of other groups. They are following a biological necessity, without such self-interest groups die out. Every group seeks to maximize its own interests with little regard for other groups.

Groups such as Jews, latinos, blacks, white, Muslims are in constant conflict over scarce resources. Rarely does one group surge ahead without negatively affecting other groups. When Jews rise in power in America, for instance, other groups lose power. The United States used to be ruled by the Protestant ethic. Jews overcame that and now Jews compose much of America’s ruling elite and more than any other group they determine the Overton Window.

Rabbis: “When the Jewish people returned to Israel after centuries of persecution and exile, they chose to pursue a path of inclusivity.”

What gadol has written a book on this theme? Short answer: None. When thousands of books are produced each year by Orthodox rabbis and none of them see fit to write about the themes in this rabbinic letter, you can be sure that this rabbinic letter is a fraud and that all of its signers are paid liars willing to peddle the most outrageous deceit for an advantage.

Rabbis: “Freedom of worship is sacrosanct in the Holy Land…”

Which gadol has written a book on this theme? Short answer: None. Torah makes no provision for and grants no sanction to non-Jewish forms of religious expression in Israel. In a Jewish state run by Torah, there won’t be any churches and mosques.

Rabbis: “You should declare in no uncertain terms that bigotry is as dangerous as it is wrong.”

What gadol has written a book against bigotry? Short answer: None.

Rabbis: “We also call upon you to denounce the language of hatred and xenophobia.”

Because hatred is unknown in Torah? That’s nonsense. Torah is filled with hatred. I am not ashamed of that. If you love something, such as God, you must hate those who are the enemies of God. If you love your family, you hate those who threaten your family. If you love your people, you hate those who threaten your people. Hatred is simply the flip side of love.

What gadol has written a sefer (book) against xenophobia? Short answer: None.

Here is an excerpt from the Talmud. Please tell me if this is hate speech.

Onkelos son of Kolonikos … went and raised Titus from the dead by magical arts, and asked him; ‘Who is most in repute in the [other] world? He replied: Israel. What then, he said, about joining them? He said: Their observances are burdensome and you will not be able to carry them out. Go and attack them in that world and you will be at the top as it is written, Her adversaries are become the head etc.; whoever harasses Israel becomes head. He asked him: What is your punishment [in the other world]? He replied: What I decreed for myself. Every day my ashes are collected and sentence is passed on me and I am burnt and my ashes are scattered over the seven seas. He then went and raised Balaam by incantations. He asked him: Who is in repute in the other world? He replied: Israel. What then, he said, about joining them? He replied: Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever. He then asked: What is your punishment? He replied: With boiling hot semen. He then went and raised by incantations Jesus [in Vilna edition: “the sinners of Israel”; “Jesus” appears in Munich 95 and Vatican 140 manuscripts and “he went and brought up Jesus the Nazarene” (Editions or MSs: Vatican 130)]. He asked them: Who is in repute in the other world? They replied: Israel. What about joining them? They replied: Seek their welfare, seek not their harm. Whoever touches them touches the apple of his eye. He said: What is your punishment? They replied: With boiling hot excrement, since a Master has said: Whoever mocks at the words of the Sages is punished with boiling hot excrement. Observe the difference between the sinners of Israel and the prophets of the other nations who worship idols. It has been taught: Note from this incident how serious a thing it is to put a man to shame, for God espoused the cause of Bar Kamza and destroyed His House and burnt His Temple.

— Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 56b-57a

So when the Talmud pictures Jesus — the god of the goyim — suffering for eternity in boiling hot excrement, is that hate speech? Asking for a friend.

I’m not arguing that Jews and Judaism are bad or nasty or bigoted. I’m just arguing that it is normal, natural and healthy for all strongly identifying in-groups such as Jews and Muslims and blacks to have suspicion and negative feelings towards out-groups.

Rabbi Jack Abramowitz writes for the Orthodox Union:

There are six things that the Torah commands us to remember. Optimally, these verses should be recited out loud each day and their meanings should be considered…

3. Amalek’s Evil Attack Remember what Amalek did to you on the journey when you left Egypt. They met you on the way and ambushed those who were lagging behind. You were tired and exhausted, but they did not fear God. Therefore, when Hashem your God relieves you from your enemies in the land that He will give you to possess, you must erase the memory of Amalek from beneath heaven. Do not forget. (Devarim 25:17-19) Amalek is different from other nations that attacked Israel in that we are commanded to eradicate them. Why should they be punished more harshly than Egypt, which oppressed the Jews for hundreds of years? One reason is because Amalek “did not fear God.” They dared to make war not just with the Jews, but with God Himself!

Is that hate speech?

I have no moral objection to hatred. I just want it properly directed. I have no moral objection to Torah, I just want to point out that there is no widely-used definition of hate speech that would not include much of Torah.

“Jewish tradition demands that we look past what separates us and instead keep our eyes trained on our shared humanity.”

This open letter is loathsome in its dishonesty. All of these rabbis know that their letter is a lie and not reflective of Judaism but they all feel comfortable lying if it is in what they see as a good cause.

Jewish tradition does not focus on training Jews to look past what separates us and to instead keep our eyes trained on our shared humanity. For instance, in the Havdalah prayer, we thank God for separating Israel from the nations. One of the commonly accepted arguments among Orthodox Jews for keeping kosher is that it separate you from non-Jews. This separation is a taken for granted virtue in Orthodox Judaism (and other insular traditional ways of life).

If rabbis keep lying like this, the nations are going to want to increasingly separate themselves from both the people of Israel and the nation of Israel.

Jewish elites can’t pursue their group interest through any means necessary while denying the same privilege to the goyim. If nationalism is good for Jews, it is also good for gentiles. If separation is good for Jews, then it is also good for gentiles. If Jews want to have sacred spaces reserved for Jews, gentiles should be allowed their own hotels and restaurants and clubs free from Jews (if the goyim wish).

As I blogged in 2014:

Strong Group Identity Always Brings With It Group Contempt For Outsiders

I’ve been arguing with Orthodox Jewish friends who want an Orthodox Judaism that does not have contempt for non-Jews.

It’s not possible, I tell them. Sure, you can have individual Orthodox Jews who are strong in their Jewish identity and non-contemptuous to non-Jews, but as a group, Orthodox Jews are always going to feel varying degrees of contempt for non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews. It’s inherent in group identity. If you believe that you are living God’s will, that your group is the best, by definition all other groups are not the best and not living out God’s plan as much as you are.

To have a strong group identity and to not feel contempt for outsiders requires a high IQ. It’s a unique combination of traits akin to juggling balls and discussing philosophy at the same time. Not many people can do it.

I grew up a Seventh-Day Adventist with a strong Adventist identity. Accompanying my strong group identity was the feeling and belief that outsiders were lost. Sure, some of them might still inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, but they weren’t among God’s elect, God’s Chosen. That was reserved for Seventh-Day Adventists.

There’s never been a strong group identity that did not carry with it general group contempt for outsiders. When Germans were strong in being German, they had varying degrees of fear, loathing and contempt for outsiders such as Jews and slavs and the French, etc. When the French felt strongly about being French, they had, as a group, a tendency towards contempt for the non-French. When the Commanches were strong in being Commanche, they had, as a group, contempt for outsiders.

When Jews say things like the following, it’s never a compliment for non-Jews:

* He’s thinking like a goy.
* That’s goyisha kup (Gentile thinking).
* What a goy!

The stronger a Jew feels about being Jewish, the more a Christian feels in Christ, the more a Muslim feels Islamic, the more contempt he is likely to feel for outsiders.

I have an Orthodox Jewish friend who decided to start wearing colored shirts on Sabbath. Normally, Orthodox Jewish men wear white shirts on the Sabbath. My friend was sick of the contempt he’s seen displayed towards non-Jews by Orthodox Jews and so he wants to make a statement that he is not like those contemptuous white-shirted Orthodox Jews. By dropping the uniform to express his universal tolerance, he’s reducing his group identity and has taken a step towards assimilation.

Uniforms are a kin component of group solidarity. Imagine how much weaker the KKK would be if they stopped wearing their uniforms. Imagine how much weaker the SS would have been if they dropped their uniforms. Imagine how much weaker Islamic identity would be without distinctive Islamic garb.

Liberal Jews omit the following lines from the Aleinu prayer: “For they worship vanity and emptiness, and pray to a god who cannot save.” Traditional Jews say the lines just as they were written hundreds of years ago. These lines express contempt for the prayers of non-Jews. Now, if I were doing Jewish apologetics, I’d say that these lines were composed with pagans in mind, not the righteous non-Jews of today, but between you and me, we know that this still expresses Jewish contempt for non-Jewish religions, just as non-Jewish religions express contempt in varying ways for religions different from their own.

Christians, Muslims and Jews have always, on average, despised each other.

Bigotry, racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism are not useful concepts. You will think more clearly when you replace such nonsense with the idea that different groups have different interests. Germans who loved being German prior to WWII saw that they had to get rid of the Jews if they wanted a truly Aryan state. Arabs and Muslims around Israel see that they have to get rid of the Jewish state for as long as Jews are around them and living free, they will excel them and that’s humiliating. As long as Jews were free in Germany in large numbers, they were going to affect society in ways that Aryan Germans would not like.

Organized Jewish life in the United States (including the Orthodox Union and Agudas Yisrael) has pushed for immigration amnesty because they see it (unconsciously in many cases) in the Jews’ interest for the white goyim to lose control of the United States. Organized Jewish life pushed for the removal of prayer in public schools in America because a weakened goyisha religious identity was thought to be in the Jewish interest. Jews have been at the forefront (through the Frankfurt school etc) of claiming that there is no meaning to race. This weakens the goy’s racial identity. Jews have been at the forefront of denouncing nationalism because that weakens the goy’s national identity and thus makes life easier for the Jews (who retain their own nationalism and Zionism).

All of these agendas pushed by the Jewish community (not by every individual Jew) have been contrary to the interests of white Americans. White Americans and black Americans and Mexican-Americans and Jewish-Americans have competing interests and this inevitably leads to conflict.

In the struggle for scarce resources, groups with the most solidarity have a big advantage. By weakening the group identities of non-Jews racially, religiously and nationally around the Western world, an agenda pushed primarily by Ashkenazi Jews on the left (and often adopted in toto by the organized Jewish community) over the past 200 years, Jews with their superior solidarity have done better than the goyim, except for the times when the goyim caught on to what was happening and fought back.

Over the past 600 years, Ashkenazi Jews in Europe have, on average, lived better than their non-Jewish neighbors (most have been in white collar jobs) because they had higher IQs and superior group solidarity.

Goy Philosopher emails:

I agree with almost everything you say here, and it’s terrible that only a few people are saying it. Yes, these statements are transparently dishonest and “oily”. Disgusting. At least, I find it impossible to believe that these guys really believe in the ‘inclusive’ or ‘anti-racist’ principles with which they try to confuse and manipulate gentiles. It seems insulting that they expect us to believe it. Here they are, practicing this blatantly ethnocentric (and arguably ‘racist’) religion, insisting on an openly alien national identity and openly divided loyalties — but at the same time they have the chutzpah to spew forth all this mush about open-ness and egalitarianism and universality, etc. Do they think the rest of us are really too stupid to notice the inconsistencies? Or is it a compliance test: will the goyim prove their subjugation by going along with obvious lies and double-talk? Or maybe they’re trying to humiliate us (or Trump) — not proving their power but just enjoying it, toying with us? I don’t know but I just can’t believe that they are really so dumb or unreflective that they really believe their own bullshit. As you said: it’s as if they will settle for nothing less than Hitler.

There are two places where I may disagree with your views. One has to do with ‘racism’. I wouldn’t use the word, but I do think that some very strong forms of ethnocentrism or double morality are morally wrong. Judaism, or some forms of Judaism, may be examples — e.g., the attitude that it’s fine to lie or cheat or steal from those not in the group, or that those outside the group have no real moral standing, don’t matter, etc. I think everyone has some basic moral importance and deserves some basic form of respect. Or almost everyone, at least. So rather than saying it’s okay for Jews to be that way but also okay for others to be that way, which seems at times to be your attitude (?), I’d say it’s unacceptable for any group to behave that way. And it’s especially wrong in the case of organized Jewry, since Jews are a lot smarter and more self-aware and more philosophical than many other groups; they really should know better, and probably do. So I don’t accept that we can regard conflicts between human groups as merely some kind of amoral struggle for survival. (Just as we can’t regard one individual murdering or exploiting another in that way.)

Another possible point of disagreement, relating to that last one: I take the passage you cited from the Talmud to reflect _very_ badly on Judaism, if that’s what Jewish authorities really think. Obviously Jesus was a very impressive and special person, and something must be very wrong with people who who try to demonize or ridicule him. Also, it seems pathetic and childish to imagine your enemies boiling in shit, let alone to write this down as part of some putative religio-philosophical commentary. It’s base and stupid. I would never be able to take seriously as a religious or moral authority someone who wrote about Jesus, or any other obviously superior person, in that kind of way. If most Jews are aware of this kind of thing but aren’t turned off by it, that makes me wonder about their character. I’m not aware of any important or canonical Christian texts that direct such base and stupid slander against Jews or Jewish heroes, etc. So rather than saying it’s only normal and perfectly fine for groups to think about the beliefs or character of outsiders in this way, as you seem to be saying, I’d hold everyone to a far higher standard.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in America, Diversity, Donald Trump, Jews, Orthodoxy. Bookmark the permalink.