Appalled by Personal Attacks and Racist Incitement

We do not feel safer or supported by Sen. Steve Daines’ comments

By Rabbi Laurie Franklin, Rabbi Mark Kula, Rabbi Francine Roston, Rabbi Allen Secher, Rabbi Ed Stafman and Student Rabbi Erik Uriarte

The Montana Association Of Rabbis (MAOR), representing rabbis in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, and Whitefish, is unanimously appalled by the ongoing torrent of racist incitement and personal attacks that President Donald Trump continues to direct against Democratic women of color in Congress. MAOR is unanimously appalled and surprised by Montana Sen. Steve Daines’ support of the president’s views and attacks.

Montana deserves and expects more from its representatives. It is not the Montana way to personally attack others for their political viewpoints or positions. It is not the Montana way to promote bigotry or hatred, as the senator himself stated with his fellow representatives on December 27, 2016: “We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place … in Montana or across this nation.”

Collectively, as Montana’s rabbis, we are the experts on anti-Semitism in Montana; we have studied it, lived it, and know it when we see it. We refuse to allow the real threat of anti-Semitism to be weaponized and exploited by those who themselves share a large part of the responsibility for the rise of white nationalist and anti-Semitic violence in this country. Accusing these representatives of anti-Semitism is no justification for telling them “to go back to where they came from” or inciting violence against them.

In a direct affront to Montana’s Jewish communities and Jewish leaders, Daines has decided to join in the president’s rhetoric of hate, a rhetoric which presents a serious threat to Jewish communities. We do not feel safer or supported by Daines’ comments, rather we fear the legitimization the president and the senator are giving to racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hatred.

At a time when many of the core values and norms of American democracy are under threat, we cannot equivocate or hesitate to challenge the forces of hate, even — and especially — when these forces cloak themselves in the authority of the Senate or the White House.

We invite Daines to meet with MAOR’s rabbis so that he can learn more about the dangers of anti-Semitism and how his words do not combat anti-Semitism as much as they promote white supremacy and hatred.

Rabbi Laurie Franklin, Missoula
Rabbi Mark Kula, Bozeman
Rabbi Francine Roston, Whitefish
Rabbi Allen Secher, Whitefish
Rabbi Ed Stafman, Bozeman
Student Rabbi Erik Uriarte, Billings