J Street has not endorsed a candidate for President in the three Presidential elections since our founding in 2008, and we do not intend to change that policy in 2016. However, the statements made and actions taken by Donald Trump are so deeply at odds with our values and our view of American interests in the Middle East, that we feel compelled to express our adamant opposition to his candidacy.
J Street was established to be the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans. In our political work, we bring to bear a belief in tolerance, justice and equality — principles that are rooted in Jewish values and experience and set forth in the founding documents of the United States and of Israel. These values are core to our identity as pro-Israel, pro-peace activists.
As people who experienced personally — or whose parents or grandparents experienced — the horrors of authoritarian regimes in the last century, we are particularly alert to the threat of demagogues who prey on fear and peddle prejudice while inciting their supporters to violence.
Sadly, Mr. Trump’s campaign to date, characterized as it has been by outrageous and alarming attacks on immigrants, Hispanics, women and other groups as well as his call for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States, runs diametrically counter to the values J Street espouses.
Trump has demonized in a most un-American way refugees fleeing the horrifying humanitarian crisis in Syria. As we said at the time those remarks were first made, they indicate a profoundly dangerous worldview which considers billions of people as a dangerous “other,” undeserving of basic compassion and understanding.
Such a worldview is completely inimical to our democracy at home, as well as to serious diplomacy and conflict resolution in today’s complex Middle East. It leads us to believe that Trump lacks the seriousness and capacity to advance American interests and to help Israel meet the difficult challenges it faces.
Nothing in the campaign to date gives us any confidence that Donald Trump, as Commander-in-Chief, would make rational and principled judgments on the foreign policy issues of consequence to us or that he would act in accordance with the core principles that define this country as a democracy.
Taken together, these factors in our view render Donald Trump unfit to be President of the United States. Trump and his campaign, driven by racism and hate, are beyond the bounds of acceptability for the vast majority of Jewish Americans. Indeed, Mr. Trump’s statements have received widespread condemnation from leading voices in the American Jewish community including the ADL and the Reform Movement.
In the coming days, including at the AIPAC Policy Conference, we hope that Jewish Americans — no matter what may divide us on other issues — will join the Union for Reform Judaism in finding ways to “engage with Mr. Trump … in a way that affirms our nation’s democracy and our most cherished Jewish values.”