This is in response to Paul Goldenberg’s and Rabbi Andrew Baker’s opeds, “Combatting anti-Semitism is at the top of Rep. Smith’s agenda” (Oct. 3).
In the words of Elie Wiesel, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
There is simply no excuse for Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-Dist. 4) silence on anti-Semitism. It is on us to hold our leaders accountable. It is on all of us to ensure that “Never Again” means never again. To ensure “Never Again” we must never let our elected leaders slide on silence.
Rabbi Baker and Mr. Goldenberg, you may feel that Smith has been an advocate for Israel, but why not hold him accountable for falling short now?
Jim Silverman wrote a blog on ExtraNewsfeed.com about Smith’s smoke and mirrors on combatting anti-Semitism: “Smith publicly touts his hard work combating hate and anti-Semitism. To his credit, a recent bill of his, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act, purports to do exactly that. It would elevate the role of the Special Envoy within the State Department, establishing the fight against anti-Semitism as a high priority. However, this bill is solely for show. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cut many Special Envoy roles and questions their effectiveness. The Envoy that Smith aims to empower likely will not exist by the time the bill passes.”
Instead of making excuses for Congressman Smith, it is the responsibility of all Jewish people and all good people to demand real accountability. To protect Jewish people here and around the world, there needs to be meaningful legislation as well as no silence when the leader of this nation refers to participants in a terrorist march by the KKK and white supremacists, where an innocent protestor was murdered, as “good people on both sides.”
As Jews, the red flags should be going up and the first line of defense is holding lawmakers who are silent, like Congressman Smith, accountable. Silence is not golden and good people that did not resist made the best Nazis. Never forget.
District 4 Coalition for Change
I cannot disagree more with the defense of Congressman Chris Smith. Many Republicans have chosen to call out President Trump by name for his playing footsie with the alt-right and white supremacists. Unfortunately, Congressman Smith seems afraid to criticize the president in any significant way. Smith claims to carry the banner against anti-Semitism but he has no credibility unless he starts speaking truth to power against the most corrupt, anti-democratic, and blatantly racist president in our modern history.
No, combatting anti-Semitism is nowhere near the top of Chris Smith’s agenda. It’s not on his website. He never talks about it in public. He could not care less, except when he’s in a private meeting, raising funds, or using anti-Semitism as a screen to cover his real agenda. Should we be props for his ceaseless attacks not just on abortion rights, but on birth control and women’s sovereignty over their own bodies?
His party — to which he is welded 100 percent — is the home of American anti-Semitism at this sad moment in our political story. Our president, the candidate of Smith’s party and its nominal leader, is a hateful person who defends anti-Semites — a boor, a bulvan, and trumbenik.
How can American Jews honestly support any Republican, especially a dishonest, calculating, manipulative extremist such as Smith? Their party is built upon those who openly despise our religion; to them we are nothing more than candidates for conversion and cash machines for their candidates. Currying favor with them is dangerous and undignified. Will we not stand up for ourselves and our sense of justice?