The Ethics of Publicly Questioning Donald Trump’s Mental Fitness

Since I posted my blog (Should Trump’s Mental Condition disqualify Him as President – link below) there has been a great deal of discussion, commentary, and criticism among rabbis from around the world about the ethics of my having written such a piece. That discussion takes place on the restricted and confidential Reform Rabbi List Serve called RAVKAV where all kinds of issues are debated and discussed. Some have admonished me (and others who have done the same as I did) for committing L’shon Ha-ra and Rehilut  (Evil speech and Slander).

One particularly thoughtful posting was written by Rabbi Steven Ballaban, a Chaplain in the United States Navy stationed in Atsugi Japan. Rabbi Ballaban gave me permission to reprint his posting here (I have edited his original piece for brevity and included within his post in brackets explanations and definitions of Hebrew terms and concepts. The bolded passages are mine for emphasis).

I reprint his piece with gratitude:

Our colleague Rabbi ­­__ has admonished us, explaining that questioning the mental stability of President Trump constitutes both Lashon haRa and Rechilut. … Generally, the gold standard [concerning the ethics of speech]… for Jewish professionals in these matters is the Chofetz Chaim [Rabbi Israel Meir HaKohen Kagan. 1839 –1933] and his Sefer Chafetz Chaim [the most authoritative book on the ethics of speech written in the past 300 years]

In Jewish law there is an explicit duty to warn others in the case of one who is mesit et harabim [“one who would lead the multitude astray”]. Within this context, we find condemnations of specific individuals within the texts of Chazal [Acronym – “Our Sages, may their memory be blessed.”].

Two come to mind and apply here. The first is Acher [Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah – First century CE rabbi who served in the Sanhedrin but became a heretic and was ostracized by the rabbinic authorities of his era], who deliberately destroyed the minds of the young and set out to poison them against Jewish values and, if necessary, assist the Romans in killing those who refused to relinquish their attachment to Judaism.

In the case of our President, he has encouraged Jewish youth to engage in xenophobia, nationalism, discrimination against the disabled, and racist populism in direct contradiction of the laws of our sacred Torah. Sadly, as has been the subject of a number of editorials recently, many of his staunch allies have been recruited from the ranks of young, financially successful, and nationalistic observant Jews.

The nomination of David Friedman as Ambassador, who has referred to his fellow Jews of J-Street as “Kapos” is an example of the type of nationalist “observant” Jew who seeks to threaten his own people. This clearly falls under the heading of mesit et harabim – one who would lead the multitude astray.

The second case, which applies here, is Ben Zoma [an exceptionally brilliant 2nd century CE rabbinic student who died before ordination]. In the Babylonian Talmud Hagiga 14b it states of Ben Zoma [one of four sages who ventured into the ‘garden of mystical speculation’]: “One looked and became mad.” In short, Ben Zoma is considered to have lost his mind because he taught traditions that contradicted accepted Jewish thought. The Talmud is not bashful in challenging the sanity of one of the sages of [the] Mishna once he taught heterodox opinions.

A president who teaches our people that persecution of minorities is kosher, that an ultra-nationalism that risks the future of the state of Israel is kosher, that humiliating a Jewish reporter and calling him a liar in public is kosher, is pushing a heterodox understanding of all that we hold sacred as Jews. I believe that the case of Ben Zoma [applies] here.

Modern responsa [questions to and answers by rabbinic authorities] in Israel have supported the idea that there is an explicit duty to warn others when life or limb are at risk. In the case of suspending the license of drivers with epilepsy, or poor eyesight, the rabbinic authorities have taught that the duty to warn supersedes the laws of Lashon haRa and Rechilut [evil speech and slander].

In the case of a nation at risk of war or infiltration by foreign agents of a government with a history of persecuting and murdering Jews, it should be clear that this is a case of al-achat-kama-v’chama [“so much the more so is this!”].

In short, questioning the sanity or stability of our President is not just NOT a violation of Jewish law, for some colleagues, it might very well be considered an affirmative duty.

Speaking personally, I am grateful for Rabbi Ballaban’s justification of the ethics of my having posted the offending blog in the first place. Based on his analysis in doing so, the dozens of psychiatrists and mental health professions who have called Trump mentally unbalanced and in one case a “malignant narcissist” are within the acceptable ethical bounds of speech according to Jewish law and tradition.

see “Should Trump’s Mental Condition disqualify Him as President” https://rabbijohnrosove.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/should-trumps-mental-condition-disqualify-him-as-president/

 

Why I Signed onto an Amicus Brief Suing the President of the United States

Last week I accepted an invitation to join with eight others as signatories in an interfaith amicus brief in support of two Iraqi refugee petitioners. They charge that President Donald Trump’s Executive Order Travel Ban violates the equal protection component of the Due Process clause of the US Constitution because it discriminates against refugees based on their religion.

Darweesh et al.v. Trump et. Al was filed in the Eastern District of New York on Thursday, February 16 by the legal firm of Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC. The firm is representing the two plaintiffs pro bono.

Here is the unconstitutional passage of the Travel Ban Executive Order:

“…the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest – including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution…” (“Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” – January 27, 2017 – Section 5e)

Trump’s specific designation of seven Middle East nations to which this Travel Ban applies (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) are majority-Muslim countries. The Executive Order gives preference to minority religious communities in those countries (i.e. Christians). That is a clear violation of the equal protection component of the Constitution’s Due Process clause because Muslims as a religious community are discriminated against.

The two plaintiffs are both Iraqi. One served as a translator for the American military in Iraq and feared for his life should he remain in his native country. He was promised political asylum by his American military handlers, but when he arrived at JFK he was refused entry because of Trump’s Travel Ban.

The other plaintiff is an Iraqi refugee who came to America in order to join his family. They had been thoroughly vetted and were cleared and granted visas. He too was refused entry and held at JFK until the Ninth Circuit Court stayed the ban. Both plaintiffs are now safely in the United States.

We Jews, if nothing else, know the heart of the stranger. The Torah instructs us frequently to remember that we were slaves in the land of Egypt. Tradition instructs us to welcome the stranger at all times with dignity, courtesy, and active support.

In times of crisis such as these in which millions of refugees are fleeing violence in their native countries, the exceptionalism of America combined with the ethical and moral impulse in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam call upon us to do everything possible to provide safe haven for the “tempest-tost.” (see Emma Lazarus, “The Great Colossus” inscribed on the Statue of Liberty)

Altruism is the noblest of moral motivations, but enlightened self-interest is also efficacious in our doing what is just and compassionate. The German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller  reminds us of real-world consequences if we don’t act on behalf of others:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The interfaith amicus brief signatories include:

  • Bana Alabed, a seven-year-old Syrian refugee from Aleppo who wrote to Donald Trump not to forget the children of Syria. Syrian President Assad called Bana’s posts “terrorist propaganda”
  • The Auburn Seminary, New York, NY
  • Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, New York, NY
  • The Muslim Public Affairs Council
  • Rabbi James Ponet, Retired Director of The Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • Rabbi John Rosove, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA
  • Rabbi Keith Stern, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Avodah, Newton Center, MA
  • The Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY
  • Suhaib Webb, the imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

I will report back as this case moves through the courts.

Though so many in my congregation have expressed their moral outrage at this Travel Ban, I am a signatory as an individual and do not claim to represent my synagogue or any other organization.

 

 

Reform Jewish Movement Opposes David Friedman’s Nomination for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

This is the first time that all the organizations of the American Reform Jewish movement have ever weighed in on a nomination by a President of the United States. However, we have done so because David Friedman’s qualifications, lack of diplomatic experience, erratic temperament, outrageous rhetoric and attacks on large sections of the American Jewish community, and his policy positions vis a vis Israel are not in the best interests of the American-Israel relationship and do not represent our Reform Jewish values in relationship to the democratic and Jewish State of Israel.

As the national Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), on behalf of ARZA’s President Rabbi Josh Weinberg, and with the unanimous support of the national ARZA Officers and Board, I express my own gratitude that our movement of 1.5 million American Reform Jews has made such a clear and strong statement.

Please read the attached statement and note the expansive support of our movement’s national leadership.

http://www.urj.org/blog/2017/02/17/reform-jewish-movement-opposes-david-friedmans-nomination-us-ambassador-israel

Should Trump’s Mental Condition Disqualify Him as President?

I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, social worker, or any kind of trained therapist. I am a congregational rabbi who has worked in three large congregations in three major American cities over the course of the last nearly 40 years, and I have encountered people with all kinds of emotional and psychological problems.

Since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, I have asked a number of therapists what they believe is the nature of Donald Trump’s psychology. All of them said that without being able to personally interview, question, and examine him they could not offer anything precise or definitive.

“OK,” I have said to them. “I respect that, but nevertheless, can you venture a considered judgment of his psychology that can offer insight into the man given your many years of experience working with people?”

Each one, as we’ve heard in so many places, said that Trump exhibits signs of classic narcissism.

The Mayo Clinic reviews the common symptoms and causes of a wide range of personality disorders – see http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/dxc-20247656 and http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/home/ovc-20247654.

Here are some highlights:

Antisocial personality disorder

  • Disregard for others’ needs or feelings
  • Persistent lying, stealing, using aliases, conning others
  • Recurring problems with the law
  • Repeated violation of the rights of others
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Consistently irresponsible
  • Lack of remorse for behavior

Histrionic personality disorder

  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Excessively emotional, dramatic or sexually provocative to gain attention
  • Speaks dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up
  • Easily influenced by others
  • Shallow, rapidly changing emotions
  • Excessive concern with physical appearance
  • Thinks relationships with others are closer than they really are

Paranoid personality disorder

  • Pervasive distrust and suspicion of others and their motives
  • Unjustified belief that others are trying to harm or deceive you
  • Unjustified suspicion of the loyalty or trustworthiness of others
  • Hesitancy to confide in others due to unreasonable fear that others will use the information against you
  • Perception of innocent remarks or non-threatening situations as personal insults or attacks
  • Angry or hostile reaction to perceived slights or insults
  • Tendency to hold grudges

Narcissistic personality disorder

  • Belief that you’re special and more important than others
  • Fantasies about power, success, and attractiveness
  • Failure to recognize others’ needs and feelings
  • Exaggeration of achievements or talents
  • Expectation of constant praise and admiration
  • Arrogance
  • Unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others
  • Envy of others or belief that others envy you

Rabbi Mark Samath posted on the Reform Rabbi list-serve a series of statements about President Trump made by therapists, journalists, current and past government officials, and political leaders. Some of the office holders are Democrats and some are Republicans. Rabbi Samath gave me permission to list what he provided to my colleagues:

  • Ted Lieu, Los Angeles Democratic Congressman, will introduce legislation requiring a psychiatrist to serve at the White House: “I’ve concluded he is a danger to the republic.”
  • Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democratic Congressman: “The President is mentally unstable.”
  • Bernie Sanders, Vermont Democratic Senator, said Trump’s obsession with non-existent voter fraud is “delusional…totally insane.”
  • Elliot Cohen, a senior State department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council: “I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this… I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy President.”
  • Paul Krugman, Economist and New York Times columnist: “This is looking less and less like a political strategy and more and more like a psychological syndrome… If you had an employee acting this way you’d immediately remove him from any position of authority and strongly suggest that he seek counseling.”
  • John Gartner, a NYC psychologist and expert on personality disorders: “Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.”
  • Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican Congressman and Chair of the House Oversight Committee, supports psychiatric evaluation of Trump: “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”
  • Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Minority Leader, questioned Trump’s mental competence calling him a fraud, a bully, and a very sick man.
  • Al Franken, Democratic Minnesota Senator: Trump’s behavior is “not the norm for a human being.”
  • Ben Michaelis, clinical psychologist: Trump suffers from “textbook narcissistic personality disorder.”
  • Joseph Burgo, psychologist and author of “The Narcissist You Know”: Trump is an example of an “extreme narcissist.”
  • Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism noted: “As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed [by Trump].” See http://citizentherapists.com/manifesto/
  • Timothy Egan, New York Times columnist: “Millions of reasonable people are appalled that a madman is in charge of the country.”
  • Judith Herman, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, in a letter joined by Drs. Nanette Gartell and Dee Mosbacher, as reported in “Grave Concerns About Donald Trump’s Mental Stability: Harvard Doctors”: Trump’s “widely reported symptoms of mental instability [include] grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality.”
  • Julie Futrell, NYC clinical psychologist: “Narcissism impairs [Trump’s] ability to see reality;” he falls “toward the pathological end of the narcissistic spectrum.”
  • Jean Fitzpatrick, a NYC relationship therapist: “Trump lacks proper reality testing.”
  • Gersh Kuntzman in the New York Daily News: “It’s a dangerous, pathological detachment from reality.”
  • Steven Rattner, former Obama administration adviser and economic analyst: “Somebody’s gotta do a psychological profile of the guy and find out why he acts the way he acts.”
  • Howard Stern, Trump’s good friend: it’s going to get worse and that the presidency “is gonna be detrimental to his mental health.”
  • David Brooks, NY Times columnist: “The guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think.”

The question for the country is whether a President with this kind of mental condition can be trusted to act in the best interests of the United States, setting aside for the moment Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, to divest from all business concerns and put everything in a blind trust, and his violation of the emolument clause of the Constitution.

There are, of course, many other reasons that Trump should be investigated and brought up on impeachment charges in the Congress.

Veteran reporter J.J. Goldberg reviews the challenges in this opinion piece in Today’s Forward. I recommend it.

Should Democrats Turn Donald Trump Into Richard Nixon?

Note: I represent only myself and not my congregation or any other organization.

Tell the Senate to Oppose David Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel

SENATE HEARINGS are beginning as soon as THIS WEEK on President Trump’s  nomination of his personal lawyer DAVID FRIEDMAN to be the next American Ambassador to Israel.

Friedman has no foreign policy experience. His abrasive and contemptuous temperament is inappropriate as a member of the American diplomatic corps. He is divisive and insulting not only to large portions of the American Jewish community but to the Palestinian people as well.

In an earlier post, I noted that I am a signatory to an open letter sponsored by J Street (an American pro-Israel and pro-peace political organization based in Washington, D.C. that is committed to a two-states for two peoples diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) and Amenu (The American Friends of Israel’s Zionist Union, opposition party in the Israeli Knesset) that included dozens of American rabbis and cantors who strongly oppose Friedman’s nomination as the next United States Ambassador to Israel.

After reading this letter, I hope you will feel moved to contact your two Senators, especially if they are in the Senate majority, and express your opposition to Trump’s divisive and potentially destructive appointment.

Here is the original J Street and Amenu rabbinic and cantorial letter:

We are writing today as rabbis and cantors asking President Trump to withdraw the nomination of David Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the state of Israel. Failing that, we implore the US Senate not to confirm him.

In this letter, we will address concerns around his denigration of American Jews who believe differently from him and his policy positions that we believe run contrary to the interests of the United States and Israel.

The Rabbis of the Talmud are adamant that we are to speak to and about other people — particularly those with whom we disagree — with love and respect. We are taught that shaming a person is tantamount to shedding their blood (Baba Metzia 58b).

Yet Mr. Friedman seems to have no qualms about insulting people with whom he disagrees.

Mr. Friedman has repeatedly compared members of the Jewish community whose views on Israel differ from his own to “kapos,” who were Jews who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust. He called members of J Street, a pro-Israel organization that wants to see peace between Israelis and Palestinians, “worse than kapos.” He has even questioned whether its more than 180,000 supporters are really Jews — as if he has the right to decide such a weighty matter.

 [Note: Friedman has since said he will walk back these comments, but he has not done so to date nor has he apologized to any individual or group that he insulted. Those close to him claim that he cares deeply about assuring the unity of the Jewish people, but his comments and attitudes suggest that he has no clue about the meaning of and application of the principle of k’lal Yisrael, the “unity of the Jewish people”.]

This is the very antithesis of the diplomatic behavior Americans expect from their ambassadors.

An ambassador is charged with representing our entire nation. It is historically perverse and wildly insulting to characterize Jewish advocates for peace, including many of the signers of this letter, as no better than Nazi collaborators plotting to destroy the Jewish people.

If Mr. Friedman cannot responsibly understand history, he cannot responsibly shape the future.

The situation in and around Israel is volatile. Mr. Friedman’s inflammatory comments about Jews, Palestinians and Muslims and the peace process itself are precisely the type of comments that can ignite further conflict and drive deeper wedges between parties.

While we believe the above should be enough to disqualify Mr. Friedman, we have grave policy concerns as well. Mr. Friedman vocally supports the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which American presidents since Johnson have seen as an obstacle to peace.

Moreover, Mr. Friedman opposes the two-state solution, which has been a policy cornerstone for Republican and Democratic administrations for the past quarter century. We are very concerned that rather than try to represent the US as an advocate for peace, Mr. Friedman will seek to mold American policy in line with his extreme ideology.

We yearn for an Israel that is secure, democratic and the national homeland of the Jewish people. Mr. Friedman’s pro-settler positions and opposition to the two-state solution are in conflict with our views and the majority of American Jews who see settlement expansion as an obstacle to peace and who strongly support a two-state solution. Mr. Friedman’s favored policies would weaken Israel’s security, democracy, and status as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

Mr. Friedman’s apparent inability to speak respectfully about and to people with whom he disagrees and his advocacy of extreme policies which threaten the future of Israel and run contrary to American interests are both sufficient reasons to disqualify Mr. Friedman’s nomination. He is the wrong choice to serve as our nation’s Ambassador to Israel.

I ask you today to contact your Senators and urge them to vote against David Friedman’s appointment as the next US Ambassador to Israel. I also encourage you to contact moderate and reasonable Senate Republicans to register your views.

Note: I speak here only for myself and not on behalf of my synagogue or any Jewish organization.

A January 21st Marcher’s Note to Senator Dianne Feinstein concerning the Nomination of Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General

In response to my request that people who marched on January 21st send a few sentences to Senator Dianne Feinstein so she can take the mass of emails she receives with her to the Senate Judiciary Committee today (Monday, February 6) when the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General comes to a vote, I received a copy of a statement from my friend and congregant Miriam Krinsky who had sent it first to Senator Feinstein. Miriam gave me permission to post her powerful and stirring words on Facebook. She wrote:
“I marched because my children are the first generation in my family born in the US. I marched because I believe in an America that values interwoven cultures coming together to form a rich and strong national fabric. I marched because as a former federal prosecutor I believe in justice and the rule of law – and not an AG who fails to exemplify those values. I marched because I am the mother of two adult daughters who have lost hope.”

Why Trump is so dangerous and what we Americans and Jews ought to do about it

Why is President Donald Trump so dangerous to our democracy and the world? Because he lies, insists upon the truth of his lies, doubles down on them, and then mercilessly demeans and attacks his critics.

There is a method to what Trump does. Here are some of the specifics that are necessary for the achievement of his ends:

  1. He personally attacks his opponents by labeling them with demeaning name-calling, thereby belittling them and discrediting them;
  2. He mocks anyone who shows a disability or publicly displays emotion that he regards as a sign of weakness in order to prop himself up and establish himself as the big winner and therefore the embodiment of power and truth;
  3. He dismisses provable facts when they do not conform to his end-game agenda;
  4. He attacks the press, threatens journalists and networks, and denies them access to the White House;
  5. He fires staff that disagree with him and prohibits dissent by government officials;
  6. He threatens cities and universities by withdrawing financial aid when they challenge him;
  7. He challenges the last election as fraudulent so he can claim to have won the popular vote as well as the electoral college;
  8. He shuts down the White House switchboard to protect itself against negative public opinion.

Taken together these things (which are not exhaustive) are reminiscent of the methods described in Mein Kampf to subjugate a population to the power and will of the leader. As was the case in the 1930s in Nazi Germany, everything for Trump depends upon establishing the Big Lie as truth.

Robert Reich posted on his Facebook page ten specific steps Trump has used from the beginning of his campaign to promote the Big Lie as a means of establishing himself as the Savior of the nation:

Step 1: Trump lies.

Step 2: Experts contradict him, saying his claim is baseless and false. The media report that the claim is false.

Step 3: Trump blasts the experts and condemns the media for being “dishonest.”

Step 4: Trump repeats the lie in tweets and speeches. He asserts that “many people” say he’s right.

Step 5: The mainstream media start to describe the lie as a “disputed fact.”

Step 6: Trump repeats the lie in tweets, interviews, and speeches. His surrogates repeat it on Fox News and in the right-wing blogosphere.

Step 7: The mainstream media begin to describe Trump’s lie as a “controversy.”

Step 8: Polls show a growing number of Americans (including most Republicans) believe Trump’s lie to be true.

Step 9: The media start describing Trump’s lie as “a claim that reflects a partisan divide in America,” and is “found to be true by many.”

Step 10: The public is confused and disoriented about what the facts are. Trump wins.

What ought we to do in response?

  1. Call/email your congressional representatives protesting Trump’s appointments and actions when they are based on the Big Lie or when they run counter to his campaign promises;
  2. Organize for the mid-term elections to take back the House and the Senate;
  3. Run for political office yourself and/or encourage able people you know to do so especially against current office-holders and candidates who support Trump’s demagoguery and/or who have failed to speak out against his lies and policies;
  4. Actively support progressive causes (e.g. climate change, public education, affordable college education, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, universal health care, scientific research, economic justice, immigration reform, diplomacy in international affairs, etc. etc);
  5. Organize demonstrations against Trump wherever and whenever he appears, at the White House and at his retreats to get under his skin;
  6. Educate your children and grandchildren about American democracy, our democratic institutions, the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the built-in checks and balances of the three branches of our government;
  7. Remember that critical thinking is our nation’s greatest protection against Trump’s and his surrogates’ demagoguery and distortions of the truth;
  8. Challenge all outrageous and demeaning statements Trump makes;
  9. Support the media that call his lies what they are – lies – and who the Trump administration criticizes for reporting and/or speaking the truth;
  10. Defend everyone Trump attacks regardless of whether you agree with the speaker’s views.

Finally – because so much is being thrown up by the Trump administration every day, it is only human to want to stop listening to the news and, out of a sense of disgust and powerlessness, to turn away and disengage. That, however, is the opposite of what we ought to be doing. Deferring to Trump is exactly what dictators want from their subjects. Denial of what is happening in the body politic and moral character of our nation is not an option; neither is despair.

We Jews and we Americans are people of hope, and hope comes from engagement and the belief that we can effect change and heal the world of its pain and imperfections.

Chazak v’ematz – Be strong and courageous!

Note: I speak only for myself and do not claim to represent the views of my congregation or any other Jewish organization.

 

 

Help Block Jeff Sessions’ Nomination as Attorney General

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU IF YOU MARCHED ON JANUARY 21

This is a direct request from her Chief of Staff:

FEINSTEIN WANTS 2-4 SENTENCES FROM MARCHERS EXPLAINING WHY YOU MARCHED AND WHAT IT MEANT TO YOU.

She will incorporate messages AND note the NUMBER of emails she receives in her opening statement at the Sessions hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Please send emails with the subject line WHY I MARCHED to:

Sean_Elsbernd@feinstein.senate.gov

Caitlin_Meyer@feinstein.senate.gov

“‘Remember the 11 million’? Why an inflated victims tally irks Holocaust historians” – Times of Israel by Ron Kampeas, February 1

Until today (February 3, 2017), I believed that the number commonly cited of murdered victims by the Nazis was 11 million (6 million Jews and 5 million others – Catholics, Romas, homosexuals, communists, trade unionists, etc.). It turns out that Simon Wiesenthal, the famed “Nazi hunter,” made up the 5 –million number of non-Jewish victims in order to catch the attention of the non-Jewish world in the 1970s that were ignoring the crime of genocide by the Nazis against Judaism and the Jewish people.

The real figure, according to Holocaust historians Yehuda Bauer and Deborah Lipstadt, is more on the order of 500,000 non-Jews murdered, certainly not a small number by any measurement, but not 5 million. The total number of people who died as a consequence of the Nazi aggression is about 35 million.

Read this article in “The Times of Israel” by Ron Kampeas (February 1) for details and the unintended impact of Wiesenthal’s made-up fiction on politics today.

An oft-cited statistic of 4 million non-Jewish Holocaust deaths has no basis in fact, experts say and may be contributing to [Holocaust] denial efforts…All of the world had to be annihilated,” [Holocaust historian Yehuda] Bauer said. “That was the intent. There was never an idea in Nazi minds to murder all the Russians…

The number 5 million also adheres to no known understanding of the number of non-Jews killed by the Nazis: While as many as 35 million people were killed overall because of Nazi aggression, the number of non-Jews who died in the concentration camps is no more than half a million, Bauer said.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/remember-the-11-million-why-an-inflated-victims-tally-irks-holocaust-historians/