Jewish Journal

Rabbis speak out against Trump tweets at interfaith event

Rabbi Sharon Brous speaks at an interfaith press conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California. Photo by Ryan Torok

Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders used a Dec. 1 press conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California to denounce President Donald Trump for tweeting videos this week purporting to show Muslims engaging in acts of violence and breaking a statue of the Virgin Mary.

“I speak to you today as a rabbi and as a Jew,” said IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous. “My people know all too well the dangers of fascists regimes that rise to power through stigmatization and the scapegoating of vulnerable minority populations. We will not shrug this off as yet another reckless act from a reckless administration.”

Brous was one of three Jewish clergy members to participate in the press conference. Beth Shir Shalom Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels and Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Susan Goldberg —who said she was representing herself and not her congregation — also were among the interfaith leaders at the event.

“The hatred that was spewed out by the president earlier this week can only be combated with this kind of love,” Comess-Daniels said.

This past Wednesday, Trump retweeted three videos that had been shared by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First.

Critics of the tweets have said Trump was sharing the videos without offering any context for the content in the videos, fomenting hate against Muslims and spreading propaganda of a hate organization.

“And now, just like after Charlottesville here in the United States, a hate group that has operated on the fringes of society has now been promoted and given credibility by the president of the United States of America,” Brous said. “We must not downplay the recklessness and the danger of this act.”

Goldberg expressed the importance of the Jewish community standing with the Muslim community at this time.

“As a Jewish person there is no question where we need to be right now. We need to be standing with our Muslim sisters and brothers and comforting you and letting you know that though there is so much care and love and protection for you,” she said.

Bishop Steve Gilliland, director of Muslim relations at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Daniel Tamm, the Westside area representative of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Islamic Center of Southern California chairwoman Hedab Tarifi and Islamic Center spokesperson Omar Ricci also participated.

“It is a sad day when European leaders are teaching the American president about tolerance,” Al-Marayati said, referring to British Prime Minster Theresa May, who criticized Trump for sharing content tweeted by Britain Frist.

Tarifi expressed disappointment in the president for the tweets.

“For us to get together to condemn our own president is really very painful.”