I am writing the letter I have no doubt my father would have written if he were still alive. As you may know, Edgar M. Bronfman was the president of the World Jewish Congress for more than 20 years. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work to compensate the victims of the Holocaust.
Ivanka and Jared, you are the two most prominent Jews in the United States of America. You believe deeply in the fundamental tenets of Judaism: understanding and tolerance. As a people who have been persecuted throughout history, our religion teaches us that tolerance for different beliefs is paramount, that understanding of other perspectives is central and that hate, in any form, is repugnant.
Your silence in the midst of President Trump’s failure to forthrightly and immediately condemn the white supremacist movement speaks volumes.
So where are your voices? Your silence in the midst of President Trump’s failure to forthrightly and immediately condemn the white supremacist movement speaks volumes. But your silence has grown more deafening in the days since, when the president repeatedly refused to condemn the very thing the Jewish religion abhors.
Where are your voices? As Sir Thomas More so famously said - “silence is assent.” By refusing to make your thoughts known, you are assenting to the beliefs, the character, the characterizations, the actions and words of President Trump. The president, sadly, has revealed himself as someone for whom preserving his base is more important than condemning racism, hate, and neo-Nazism. There is no escaping the undeniable truth of the president’s fundamental lack of a moral code. That failing will now be part of his legacy. Is that to be your legacy as well?
As Jews, we know that the failure to speak up and speak out against hate and intolerance and the behaviors that result is precisely the wrong thing to do. We must speak out, often and always, whether it is about Charlottesville or Sierra Leone. We must condemn hatred and intolerance at its very first signs, as we have so often been its victims. Where are your voices?
I firmly believe that you both find the events of the past days repugnant to everything in which you believe. I recognize it is terribly difficult to speak out. But silence can never be an answer. To be silent in the face of bigotry, supports bigotry. Silence in the face of hatred, promotes hatred. As such important members of the Jewish community, I urge you to speak up and speak out. Doing so is very brave and it’s what Jews have done for centuries. I hope you will, too.
Where are your voices? We are waiting, anxiously, to hear them.