A group of 19 Jewish clergy, seven men and twelve women, affiliated with T’ruah, an anti-Zionist Jewish movement, was arrested on Monday night after blocking the street outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The group was protesting President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily bans travel to the US from seven majority-Muslim nations.
According to the NY Daily News, Reform Rabbi Rachel Gartner, co-chair of T’ruah, compared the ban, which is intended to give US immigration authorities 90 days to sort out the vetting process of visitors from radical Muslim countries, to the SS St Louis, when, in 1939, more than 900 Jews who had fled Germany aboard a luxury cruise liner were turned away in Havana and forced to return to Europe, where more than 250 were killed by the Nazis.
“We cannot tolerate the executive order that comes from the administration. It’s very painful for us. It’s personal. We remember the St. Louis,” Gartner told the Daily News. “It’s eerily reminiscent and it strikes us to our core.”
This repeated comparison is infuriating. Gartner and others on the left have been equating the mistreatment, never mind mass-murder, of European Jews, who never posed a threat to their societies and, in fact, were productive and creative members of said societies – with the US government’s decision to enhance the vetting of travelers from countries that initiate and encourage regional terrorism, and harbor international terrorists who spread violence and murder on five continents.
If anything, the Trump Administration should be criticized for omitting from the ban the two countries that gave us the September 11, 2001 attacks: Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
“Tradition teaches us to be kind to the plight of refugees,” Gartner told the Daily News, although she did not specify which tradition she was referencing. It should be noted that the very first action taken up by T’ruah, which was founded as Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, was to gather signatures for a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “in protest of the Israeli government’s policy of demolition of the homes of Palestinians.” So love of the people of Israel was not in their tradition.
The protesters arrived at the hotel around 8 PM, Monday, and announced they were there to get arrested, according to the NY Times. They sat themselves down across Central Park West, blocking traffic. Police warned them using a loudspeaker: “If you remain in the roadway and refuse to utilize the sidewalk, you will be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.” They remained in the roadway and refused to utilize the sidewalk, so they got arrested.
In an online petition on their website titled “Don’t close the door to refugees and immigrants,” T’ruah writes: “The ancient rabbis taught that the sin of the city of Sodom, which God destroyed in the Torah, was that the residents banned foreigners, out of fear that these strangers would deplete the wealth of the city.” Cute note: one T’ruah board member is Ayelet Cohen, who served for 10 years at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBT synagogue, which reminds us of all the other things our rabbis had to say about sodomites…