Petition calling on federations to condemn Bannon draws 1,700 signatures

Ben Sales

(JTA) — A petition calling on the Jewish Federations of North America to denounce Trump appointee Stephen Bannon has garnered 1,700 signatures in a couple of days.

The petition, started Tuesday by a new group named Jewish Community of Action Against Hate, calls on JFNA, the umbrella body encompassing 151 local Jewish federations, to condemn the appointment of Bannon, whom President-elect Donald Trump picked as his chief strategist on Sunday.

Bannon is the former chairman of Breitbart News, a website that Bannon himself called “the platform for the alt-right,” a loose movement of the far right whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

“Having Stephen Bannon as a key strategist in the White House sends a clear message to hate groups that their belief system is no longer fringe, but now accepted,” the petition reads. “As an organization that is dedicated to securing the Jewish future by empowering community members to take charge of their Jewish lives and provide leadership to their community, we take you at your word and assume that you will keep your pledge to empower and listen to those of us that speak up.”

JFNA, which just concluded its annual national conference, the General Assembly, has not opined publicly on Bannon’s appointment. One day after the Nov. 8 election, it sent a letter to Trump saying “We very much look forward to working closely with you and your administration on uniting our country and on the important challenges ahead of us all.”

In response to the petition, JFNA emailed JTA a statement on Thursday that expressed hope regarding Trump’s incoming administration. The statement did not mention Bannon.

“As with every democratically elected official in America, we believe that President-elect Trump needs to be given an opportunity to lead,” the statement read. “We are hopeful that his actions align closely with the American values that we hold dear.”

Jewish Community of Action Against Hate, which was launched by seven people from suburban Seattle, Washington, calls itself a “Jewish grassroots community.”

Its petition comes on the heels of a letter circulated by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., calling on Trump to rescind Bannon’s appointment. As of Wednesday, 169 House of Representatives lawmakers, all Democrats, have signed on, including all but two of the 19 Jewish representatives.

Several Jewish groups have denounced Bannon’s appointment, including a handful of liberal organizations and the Anti-Defamation League, whose CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, called Bannon “hostile to core American values.”

Two conservative groups, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America, have defended Bannon as a supporter of Israel. An RJC board member called the condemnations of Bannon a “shonda,” Yiddish for shame.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)