Hundreds of Jewish scholars of holocaust history call on Americans to 'mobilise in solidarity' against Trump

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Hundreds of Jewish scholars of holocaust history call on Americans to 'mobilise in solidarity' against Trump

'Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism'

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The Independent US
trump-flag.jpg Mr Trump’s presidential campaign has emboldened the American far-right, energising white supremacists and helping to unleash a swarm of online anti-Semitism AFP/Getty

Hundreds of Jewish scholars of the holocaust have signed a statement condemning the “hateful and discriminatory language and threats” against minorities during Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and called on Americans to "resist attempts to place vulnerable groups in the crosshairs of nativist racisms."

The statement, signed by more than 250 Jewish professors from across America, expresses the need to “evaluate where the country stands” following the election, and “resist the degradation of rights that Mr Trump’s rhetoric has provoked.”

Published in the online LA-based Jewish Journal, the message opens by stating: “As scholars of Jewish history, we are acutely attuned to the fragility of democracies and the consequences for minorities when democracies fail to live up to their highest principles.

“The United States has a fraught history with respect to Native Americans, African Americans and other ethnic and religious minorities. But this country was founded on ideals of liberty and justice and has made slow and opportunities for all.”

It goes on to describe “the racial, ethnic, gender-based, and religious hatred” that has been "provoked" during Mr Trump's campaign and in the wake of his election, citing the “numerous attacks on immigrant groups” from both the President-elect and his supporters.

The statement asserts that it is their “duty” as historians to support and resist victims of such hatred, stating: “Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has provoked."

Referring to the victimisation of Jews during the Trump campaign, the statement reads: “The candidate himself refused to denounce - and even retweeted - language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.”

World reaction to President Trump: In pictures

World reaction to President Trump: In pictures

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The statement concludes by calling on other Americans to "mobilise in solidarity" against the discrimination the has arisen from the Trump campaign. “We call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others," it states.

“Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralisation are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilising in solidarity.”

Professor David Biale, the Jewish scholar who wrote the initial statement, which he then invited fellow scholars to contribute to, said it was launched as both a show of solidarity and way for to warn against history being replicated.

Mr Biale, a professor of Jewish history at the University of California, told The Independent: “We started circulating it in a very informal way via email, and it went viral. The statement in full got published on a Jewish news website and it began being shared on social media.

“The incredible outpouring of support from other Jewish scholars showed the feeling people had that they really needed to find a way of stating their horror at what has happened here politically, and to do so from the perspective of the field, because those of us who have studied Jewish history are very aware of what happens when democracies fail, and the consequences for minorities in particular.

“This is a platform for Jewish historians to come together to support people who may feel endangered, and to be ready to respond to policies that bear similarity to the sorts of things that we study historically. If we see them being replicated, we can draw attention to the consequences of those kinds of policies.”

Mr Biale said it was too soon to know what Mr Trump’s policies would be, but expressed concern at the anti-Semitic support during the campaign and the decisions the President-elect has made so far. “It’s too soon to know what his policies will be, but the ‘alt-right’ movement that supported Trump showed a tremendous amount of anti-Semitism during the campaign," he said.

“And the fact that he’s appointed Steve Bannon as his senior advisor, who seems to hold anti-Semitic views, makes us very worried. Even if Bannon himself isn’t an anti-Semite, he’s connected with Breitbart, which allows this kind of anti-Semitic expression.”

Donald Trump's most controversial quotes

Donald Trump's most controversial quotes

  • 1/18 On Mexicans

    “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 2/18 On Senator McCain

    “He’s not a war hero... He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

    Getty Images

  • 3/18 On Megyn Kelly

    “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 4/18 On Vladimir Putin

    “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”

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  • 5/18 On his popularity

    “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 6/18 On torture

    "I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

    Getty Images

  • 7/18 On his body

    “Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Republican rival Marco Rubio] referred to my hands: ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 8/18 On president Obama

    “He is the founder of Isis.”

    Getty Images

  • 9/18 On the Second Amendment

    "Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 10/18 On Hilary Clinton's emails

    “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 11/18 On sexual assault

    In a statement regarding the release of a 2005 video in which he can be heard boasting about sexual assault: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course.”

    Getty Images

  • 12/18 On tax loopholes

    "I absolutely used it, and so did Warren Buffett, and so did George Soros and so did many people who Hillary is getting money from."

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 13/18 On his accuser

    “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”

    Getty Images

  • 14/18 On Hillary Clinton

    “Such a nasty woman”

    Getty Images

  • 15/18 On his pro-life stance

    “Based on what she's saying ... you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day, and that's unacceptable”

    Getty Images

  • 16/18 On his accusers

    "Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

    Getty Images

  • 17/18 On the 'rigged' election system

    “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.”

    Getty Images

  • 18/18 On Hillary Clinton

    “I hate to say it but if I win I'm going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. There has never been so many lies, so much deception. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

    Getty Images

Mr Trump’s presidential campaign has emboldened the American far-right, energising white supremacists and helping to unleash a swarm of online anti-Semitism.

The day after the election, which coincided with the 78th anniversary of Kirstallnacht in Germany – when fascists torched, vandalized and destroyed Jewish homes, shops and synagogues – vandals in Philadelphia sprayed anti-Semitic messages on shop windows, allaying fears of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks during a Trump presidency.

Since Mr Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton there has been a spike in reports of hate crimes across the US, with more than 200 incidents reported in the three days after the election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

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