It was disheartening to read the statements by Kenneth Bialkin, whom you identify as “a longtime national Jewish leader,” excusing Donald Trump’s tape-recorded boasts about sexually assaulting women. According to Bialkin, Trump was “tricked into saying” what he said and, in any event, “he’s now at a different age … that was then and this is now” (“Repulsed By Trump Tape But Sticking With Him,” Oct. 14).
These are rather novel arguments (assuming, of course, that Bialkin was quoted accurately). It seems obvious from the tape recording of Trump that he knew exactly what he was talking about. In fact, as far as we know, even Trump himself has not claimed he was “tricked.” Likewise, Trump has not argued that he was too young to know the difference between right and wrong; after all, he was 59 at the time, not 12.
We believe that Jewish leaders should adhere to a higher ethical standard when judging the pronouncements of public figures. Nobody should rationalize, excuse or even implicitly defend a public figure’s bragging about sexually assaulting women.
Rafael Medoff, Susannah Heschel, Thane Rosenbaum, Shulamit Magnus
for the Committee on Ethics in Jewish Leadership