Jews and Israelis must be the first to condemn Donald Trump’s comments against Muslims, Israeli Knesset Member and former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren said Tuesday.
In an interview with i24News, an English-Israeli TV network, Oren said, “Whatever the reason, it is thoroughly unacceptable. It is very important for Israelis to stand up against this, precisely because we are Israelis; precisely because we are facing threats from radical Islam. We have to stand up for the vast majority of Muslims who are not radical.”
Oren said that during his tenure as Ambassador he worked with Imams and hosted an Iftar party every years at the Embassy. “This are wonderful people. And to stigmatize, derogate and criminalize an entire population is thoroughly unacceptable,” the Knesset Member told host Lucy Aharish, herself an Arab-Israeli. “Support for Israel in the U.S. is at an all-time high. But I knew as Ambassador that a part of that 70 percent were people who like Israel because they don’t like Muslims, and I would go out to the audience and say: ‘If that’s why you like Israel, we don;t want your support.’If that’s the price, we don’t want it.”
On Monday, Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He doubled down on his call during a campaign rally Monday night, as well as in a round of TV interviews Tuesday morning.
The comments were immediately condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, who compared the ban to the persecution of the Jewish people in the 1930′s. “Mr. Trump’s plan to bar people from entry to the United States based on their religion is unacceptable and antithetical to American values,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said in a statement. “A plan that singles out Muslims and denies them entry to the U.S. based on their religion is deeply offensive and runs contrary to our nation’s deepest values. In the Jewish community, we know all too well what can happen when a particular religious group is singled out for stereotyping and scapegoating,” he added.
The former Ambassador said he hopes the most recent comments would be a “turning point” in the Republican race for president.
“It is very important for Israelis to say” that recent terror attacks in Israel and abroad are “not about Islam,” Oren stressed. ”We were victims of precisely what Mr. Trump is calling for – calling for closing the gates on immigration on the basis of a racial and religious Identity. So, we know what it feels like.” Adding, “One of the reasons I moved to Israel was because I grew up in a neighborhood where I was the only Jewish kid and I got beaten up every day for being Jewish. But I don;t want to be part of a majority that, in any way, discriminates and is judicial against its minorities.”