British Jewish leaders condemn Trump rhetoric ahead of visit

Cnaan Liphshiz

Donald Trump waving after a press conference at the Trump Tower in New York, May 31, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump waving after a press conference at the Trump Tower in New York, May 31, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Ahead of Donald Trump’s planned visit to Britain, leaders of that country’s Jewish community condemned what they said was the Republican presidential nominee’s “divisive and troubling” rhetoric.

Trump, who is scheduled to visit Britain on June 22, earlier this month told the Wall Street Journal that an Indiana-born judge with Mexican heritage who is overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University has an “inherent conflict of interest” given Trump’s stance against immigration from that country.

Trump is coming to Britain for the opening of a new hotel he owns in Scotland.

Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that Trump’s “recent comments have been divisive and troubling,” the London-based Jewish News reported Tuesday. “The world has long looked to the United States as a beacon of progress, tolerance and free thinking. Some of Mr. Trump’s remarks undermine these values.”

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Trump, Arkush added, “has not moved decisively enough to distance himself from extremist supporters” and  “should now be considering the far-reaching consequences of his remarks and policy proposals before more damage is done.”

Laura Janner-Klausner, a well-known Reform rabbi, called Trump’s statements “naked appeals to bigotry.” British Jews, she said, “strongly support American liberal Jews in challenging Donald Trump and stand in solidarity with our sister movement the Union for Reform Judaism” on this issue.

The chief executive of Britain’s Liberal Judaism association, Rabbi Danny Rich, told The Jewish News:  “I fear that some of Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of a growing intolerance, and inability to discuss things rationally, that we are currently seeing in political debate all around the world.”

In New York last month, a 500-strong alliance of liberal Jews announced that they would be campaigning against Trump throughout the summer and autumn months.

Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO, last month told the Forward that “we haven’t seen this kind of kind of mainstreaming of intolerance at this level” for decades. He added: “These ideas have no place in the mainstream and we’ll do what we need to make sure that folks understand that.”

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