"We have opposed Donald Trump because of the things he has threatened to do if elected: Forcibly detain millions of immigrants. Institute religious tests at the border and a national registry for American Muslims. Eliminate long-standing Constitutional protections for the free press and other parts of civil society. Jail his political opponents. In the conduct of his campaign he has encouraged violence as a tool of politics and has emboldened an alt-right movement that is awash in explicit antisemitism. All of this has frighteningly reminded us of the fascist regimes America has stood against for decades, and which our parents and grandparents came here to escape. We consider Trump's vision of the country to be fundamentally un-American, and American Jews will protest and resist these plans with passion and courage.
"Over the next weeks and months, there are many questions we will have to answer. One set of questions will have to focus on how we got here. How did we fail to highlight the danger that Trump presents and fail to convince enough of the American electorate to stand against him? What message of his was more compelling and more resonant to the many Americans, most of them fundamentally good people, who chose to vote for him? Why were so many of our fellow Americans drawn to a more authoritarian vision of our nation, at odds with our democratic and civic institutions? And most centrally, why did so many white Americans respond to Trump's message linking their future prosperity and safety to the demonization of people of color, immigrants and religious minorities? This will take a great deal of introspection at all levels of society and the leadership of Bend the Arc will not spare ourselves from that self-examination.
A second set of questions will focus on how much this electoral result was influenced by structural inequalities, such as the concerted efforts by the Republican Party to suppress the vote in communities of color, an agenda aided by the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act. We will have to decide how to address and mitigate those inequalities in elections to come. Third, we have to assess where the greatest immediate threats are to the safety, liberty and dignity of targeted communities in this new political reality. Who is most at risk under a Trump Administration? What tools will such an administration use and who will its allies be in the corridors of power?
"And finally, we will have to come together as an intersectional, multi-faith, multi-racial, multi-issue progressive movement to devise a plan to help and protect those people who may come under attack. We must be clear-eyed and serious about the danger, and we must challenge ourselves to rise to this moment. It is possible that actions of this administration will demand a response involving widespread use of peaceful direct action. The future is uncertain, the stakes are high, and we must be willing to be courageous because the consequences of our decisions will be great.
"Therefore, as we go through the coming months of questioning and planning, I urge all of us to remain true to our deeply held moral beliefs, which may come under assault from without and within. Many will call on us to "respect the will of the people," and accept without question the actions of a Trump presidency, no matter how vile or immoral they are. Our own inner demons may tell us to do the same, out of guilt or shame or fear. The hardest step for many of us will be that first one, where we decide not to listen to these voices, but to remain true to the values extolled by the ancient prophets, handed down to us by our courageous ancestors, and which have guided our lives and our actions -- no matter how unpopular those values may seem or how uncomfortable they may make some of our decisions. The Bend the Arc community has done tremendous work over the past year to fight this outcome, and we should take from that a hope and a belief in our own strength and tradition of standing up for what's right. It is a challenging road ahead for our community and our country. We will walk it with faith, love and seriousness of purpose."
Bend the Arc Jewish Action has been a leader in the Jewish community's work to combat the extremism and bigotry seen in this year's presidential race. Bend the Arc Jewish Action has mobilized tens of thousands of Jews against Donald Trump's campaign of hate for over a year, and its affiliated Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC officially endorsed Hillary Clinton in July. Last week, Bend the Arc Jewish Action organized a massive 'Let My People GOTV' initiative that mobilized Jewish activists nationwide to personally knock on the doors of over 20,000 voters for Hillary Clinton in the critical swing states of Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In September, Bend the Arc Jewish Action organized an anti-Trump 'Book of Life' Day of Action in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), and released a viral video message from the older generation to today's young voters. In June, Bend the Arc Jewish Action organized a series of anti-Trump Vigils Against Violence in 50 cities. Bend the Arc Jewish Action also strongly denounced Trump's plan to start a government registry of Muslims last fall and has repeatedly called on the Trump campaign's chief Jewish supporter – the Republican Jewish Coalition – to rescind its endorsement. Bend the Arc Jewish Action's sister organization, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, also launched a televised campaign, "Heard it Before," comparing anti-immigrant rhetoric in the presidential campaign to what Jewish immigrants faced a century ago. To date, 30,000 American Jews have signed petitions denouncing Trump and joined Bend the Arc Jewish Action's effort to defeat his campaign.