Faso urged to take action against white nationalism, anti-Semitism

Faso urged to take action against white nationalism, anti-Semitism

September 12, 2017

Poughkeepsie Journal
Rabbi Yael Romer
September 12, 2017
Original Article

The High Holy Days, the most important and solemn days of the Jewish year, will soon be upon us. These days, bookended by Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) and the fast day of Yom Kippur, are a time of awakening, accountability and atonement for the many Jewish families here in Rep. John Faso’s district. One of the central traditions of the High Holy Days is the blowing of the shofar, a trumpet-like instrument made from a ram’s horn whose sound is meant to loudly proclaim that the time of taking stock and being held accountable has arrived.

This year, amid the horrific displays of white nationalism and anti-Semitism in Charlottesville and elsewhere, the sound of the Shofar must be more than just an old-fashioned alarm clock. It must be a reminder that the time has come for Americans everywhere — especially those in positions of power—to speak out against this new rise of racial hatred and white supremacy in the era of President Donald Trump. That’s why we, Jewish constituents of Rep. Faso, are asking our congressman to honor this season by standing up for our values with three concrete actions – and why we plan to hold him accountable with a rally on Sept. 18th in Kingston.

Rep. Faso must also demand that Trump advisor Stephen Miller, one of the leading proponents of white supremacy in the administration and a top supporter of the president’s recent decision to end the DACA program, be fired. It is unacceptable for proponents of white nationalism to hold positions at the highest levels of our government. With the departures of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, Miller has become the leading champion of this violent, hateful ideology among the White House staff.

Finally, we call on Rep. Faso to support the removal of Confederate monuments from the U.S. Capitol. These statues have become rallying points for white supremacy and should have no place of honor in the halls of Congress.

Certainly, some legislators — including Rep. Faso — have spoken out against the evils of white supremacy, but words simply aren’t enough. When the person in the Oval Office, who millions around the world have historically looked to for moral clarity and leadership, tries to equate neo-Nazis and the KKK with those who oppose them, silence or half-hearted condemnations from members of Congress are unacceptable. Rep. Faso and his colleagues have a moral responsibility to not only oppose white supremacy and white nationalism with words, but to take actions that hold President Trump and his administration accountable for their failure to appropriately condemn and denounce these radical, hateful ideologies.

As the High Holidays approach, the Jewish community’s message to Rep. Faso is clear: You must choose a side. Will you passively align yourself with President Trump and his white supremacist allies, or will you take action against hatred and bigotry?

To make sure Rep. Faso gets the message, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action and allies in the district are gathering amidst the sounds of klezmer and gospel at 6pm on Sept. 18 at Academy Green Park in Kingston and marching to his office for a powerful shofar blast Just two days before the start of Rosh Hashanah,the sounds of the shofar will send a loud and clear message to Rep. Faso that he needs to side with the people who are united against oppression, violence and disrespect of our fellow human beings.

The High Holy Days aren’t just about acknowledging our mistakes and repenting; they’re about promising to do better in the future and expressing a willingness to be held accountable. Rep. Faso and his colleagues in Congress have an opportunity to redeem themselves for their present inaction in the face of white supremacy. But rest assured: If they fail to act now, their constituents will be ready to hold them accountable in the next election.