Congress confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory early Thursday after a day of shocking violence in Washington D.C. stoked by President Trump.
Jewish lawmakers decried the invasion of the Capitol by the pro-Trump mob, which forced the suspension of Congress’ traditionally pro forma vote on the election results and led to the members’ evacuation. “Make no mistake: President Trump and his enablers are directly responsible for this violence,” tweeted Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is set to become the majority leader in the Senate, chided Trump on Twitter, saying “those who performed today’s reprehensible acts were rioters, insurrectionists, thugs, domestic terrorists. They don’t represent America. They were violent extremists who tried to take over the Capitol. They must be prosecuted to the full extent. But tonight Democracy will triumph.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Long Island Republican, voted to object to the electoral slates of states, endorsing Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. The Jewish congressman earlier issued a statement calling for “zero tolerance for violence in any form” and asking “everyone to please cooperate with Capitol Police who need to gain control of this situation immediately.”
Jewish groups responded to the violence in D.C. with “outrage,” “disgust” and criticism of Trump.
The critics included the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which rarely pronounces on any issue that does not relate to Israel. “This violence, and President Trump’s incitement of it, is outrageous and must end,” AIPAC said in a statement.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor, the scholar in residence of UJA-Federation of New York, writes that he never prayed “as deeply for the government of the United States as I did today.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York issued a statement, which reads in full: “The appalling disturbances on Capitol Hill were a violent assault on our cherished electoral system and threatened the safety of public officials and civil servants. The peaceful transition of power is sacred to the foundation of our democracy and must be respected.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack “disgraceful,” but went on to praise Trump as a regional peacemaker. “Lawlessness and violence are the opposite of the values we know Americans and Israelis cherish,” said Netanyahu, standing beside U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been visiting with regional leaders.
Groups who track extremism said the events confirmed their direst warnings of the past four years.
“This seems to be a logical conclusion to so much of what we have seen throughout the year, whether it’s reopen protests and efforts to delegitimize state governments, whether it’s conspiracy theories,” Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told JTA.
Rabbis in Washington sought to calm and comfort congregants during the violence, with prayers, impromptu streaming events and assurances that their institutions were safe.
Orthodox Jewish Trump supporters from the New York area traveled to Washington to participate in the Trump rally that preceded the violence, filling at least eight buses, observers said.
Some told JTA that it was a shameful day, but it did not make them regret their support for Trump. And many baselessly blamed Antifa for the violence, or compared the mob to the Black Lives Matter protests last year.
During the pro-Trump rally, Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) told the crowd, “Hitler was right on one thing: He said, whoever has the youth has the future. Fill your children’s minds with what is true and right and noble, and then they can overcome evil with good because they can actually discern between what is evil and what is good.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, condemned Miller’s remarks on Twitter. “Hitler wasn’t right on anything – and invoking his name in this or any other context is wildly offensive & disrespects the millions who perished due to the Nazis’ hateful, genocidal regime,” he wrote.
Jon Ossoff was elected to the Senate in Georgia, flipping control of the U.S. Senate.
The Jewish, 33-year-old former executive of a documentary film company narrowly defeated incumbent David Perdue. His victory and that of fellow Democrat Raphael Warnock in Tuesday’s runoff election “echoes the close relationship” between the Black and Jewish communities “that peaked during the civil rights movement’s heroic period,” wrote Peniel E. Joseph, a historian.
JTA has a backgrounder on Ossoff, the second Jewish senator to be elected from the South.
Warnock, who will be Georgia’s first-ever Black senator, also invoked the Black-Jewish alliance during an interview on CNN. “I think Abraham Joshua Heschel, the rabbi who said, when he marched with Dr. King, he felt like his legs were praying, I think he and Dr. King are smiling in this moment,” said Warnock. Heschel, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in a 1965 march by civil rights leaders from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
Joe Biden nominated Merrick Garland to be his attorney general.
Garland, 68, who is Jewish, currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 2016, Senate Republicans blocked the judge from serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fun fact: Garland’s wife’s grandfather, Samuel Irving Rosenman, was a justice of the New York Supreme Court. As a speechwriter and special counsel to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he coined the term “New Deal” to describe FDR’s ambitious economic stimulus policies.
A federal appeals court affirmed that a voting method that elected East Ramapo’s majority Orthodox school board violated the Voting Rights Act.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals endorsed a lower court ruling that said the Rockland County district’s at-large voting method disenfranchised Black and Latino voters, and it endorsed a remedial plan to divide the district into nine wards – one for each board seat, Lohud.com reported.
The judges said that the school board, dominated by Orthodox Jews and their allies, proved to be “chronically unresponsive to public-school concerns.” Orthodox Jewish families in the district overwhelmingly send their children to private schools; the public schools have a majority Blackand Latino student bodies.
Reaction: “Today’s ruling reaffirms what’s been clear all along: The white private school community hijacked East Ramapo’s school board and its elections,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU, which represented the NAACP in the case.
District representatives did not comment on the ruling.
What’s next: Feb. 2 elections will be held for all nine seats on the board.
Jewish Policy Center presents a conversation with David M. Weinberg, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy (JISS) and a diplomatic columnist for The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom newspapers. He will address whether the peace with UAE will be authentic and long-lasting, or cynical and fleeting, and the possibilities for future good relations with countries of the Gulf and the rest of the Arab world. Sign up here. Noon.
NCJW-NY presents Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier, author of “The House on Henry Street: The Enduring Life of a Lower East Side Settlement,” in a talk focusing on the early years of Lillian Wald’s enterprise — the Henry Street Settlement — its place in New York City and the nation, and its enduring fight for social justice. Register here. 1:00 pm.
Commonpoint Queens and community leaders present an in-depth conversation about the “Rising Economic and Social Costs of Hunger and Unemployment.” This virtual panel features Danielle Ellman, CEO, Commonpoint Queens; Marci Hunn, Program Director, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; Assemblymember Nily Rozic, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. Moderated by David Brand, Managing Editor, Queens Daily Eagle. Register and submit questions for panelists at commonpointqueens.org/TownHall. 6:00 pm.