NEW YORK — Today, T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights organization that represents over 2,000 rabbis and cantors and their communities, issued the following statement calling for elected officials to take accountability following the events of last week in Washington, D.C.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, released the following statement:
“Last week we saw the deadly result of political leaders tolerating and encouraging white supremacy, antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, fear, and hatred for political gain. When allowed to fester, these ideologies poison our culture and threaten the foundations of our democratic system. President Trump bears the brunt of responsibility for inciting the violent mob that stormed the Capitol, but elected officials who humored his lies about the election and refused to stand up to his years of hateful rhetoric must not be let off the hook. They helped to create an environment that tolerated the conspiracy theories, racism, antisemitism, and celebration of violence that led to last week’s riot.
“The Talmud teaches, ‘Anyone who was able to protest the actions of the members of one’s household and did not is punished for the actions of the household; one who was able to protest the actions of one’s city and did not is punished for the actions of the city; one who was able to protest the actions of the whole world and did not is punished for the actions of the world.’ The text goes on to assert that the elders and political leaders of the community are held responsible for the sins of the whole world. Nor should the likelihood of failure be an excuse for forsaking one’s duty. In this same Talmud passage, Rabbi Zeira asks Rabbi Simon to rebuke the house of the Exilarch — the political leader of the Jewish community. Rabbi Simon demurs, saying ‘they will not listen to me.’ Rabbi Zeira responds, ‘Even though they will not listen, you should rebuke them.’ (Tractate Shabbat, 54b-55a)
“Religious moral leaders have repeatedly rebuked President Trump over the last four years. In the wake of his incitement, which has led to the deaths of five people as well as grave harm to our democracy, T’ruah has been outspoken in our call for President Trump to be immediately removed from office, either through invocation of the 25th Amendment or through impeachment and conviction. Last Wednesday night, during a gathering that we organized, more than 500 members of our community called their representatives to ask them to initiate impeachment proceedings. Many more made phone calls in the days following.
“We also call for the resignation or expulsion of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who led the charge to overturn a free and fair election, and the censure of every elected official who voted in support of this undemocratic action. By refusing to rebuke the president in his unfounded, divisive, and destructive attempt to undermine the election, they too bear responsibility for the results.
“We applaud the decision by Twitter and Facebook to ban President Trump from their platforms. However, this move comes too late to save the lives of the five people who died last Wednesday, to undo the damage done to democracy or the trauma to those trapped in the Capitol, or to stop the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories that these companies and others have allowed to fester in their pursuit of maximum profit. Other news media and social media — including Fox News, Newsmax, One America News Network, Parler, Telegram, and Gab — also bear responsibility for promulgating conspiracy theories, promoting lies, and hosting extremists. The decisions by Apple and Google to remove Parler from their app stores, and by Amazon Web Services to take the site offline, are appropriate, but will not be enough to stop white nationalists from organizing on other sites.
“Last week’s events will not stop us from standing up for democracy and human rights, or from fighting for an America that protects all of its people. We know from the section of Torah that Jewish communities are currently reading that the birthpangs of liberation are often met with violence. The mob that attacked the Capitol last week, as well as the elected officials and news media who egged them on, pine for a white Christian patriarchal America. But those of us committed to a diverse country, based in justice and equality for all people, are winning. Last week, Georgia elected their first Jewish and first Black senators. The administration of President Biden will include not only Vice President Kamala Harris but a diverse group of appointees and senior staff who reflect all of America. The Torah teaches us that liberation does not come easily or quickly. We recommit to the work of organizing, in partnership with other communities, to live in an America that protects the safety, dignity, and rights of all people.”
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of more than 2,000 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.