The following is a letter by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman originally published August 16, 2017, on Extra Newsfeed, followed by my response and thoughts.
To our fellow Jews, in the United States, in Israel, and around the world:
We know that, up to now, some of you have made an effort to reserve judgment on the question of whether or not President Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, and to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of you voted for him last November. Some of you have found employment in his service, or have involved yourself with him in private business deals, or in diplomatic ties.
You have counted carefully as each appointment to his administration of a white supremacist, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi or crypto-fascist appeared to be counterbalanced by the appointment of a fellow Jew, and reassured yourself that the most troubling of those hires would be cumulatively outweighed by the presence, in his own family and circle of closest advisors, of a Jewish son-in-law and daughter.
You have given your support to the President’s long and appalling record of racist statements, at worst assenting to them, at best dismissing them as the empty blandishments of a huckster at work, and have chosen to see the warm reception that his rhetoric found among the hood-wearers, weekend stormtroopers, and militias of hate as proof of the gullibility of a bunch of patsies, however distasteful.
You have viewed him as a potential friend to Israel, or a reliable enemy of Israel’s enemies.
You have tried to allay or dismiss your fears with the knowledge that most of the President’s hateful words and actions, along with those of his appointees, have targeted other people — immigrants, Black people, and Muslims — taking hollow consolation in how open and shameless his hate has been, as if that openness and shamelessness guaranteed the absence, in his heart and in his administration, of any hidden hatred for us.
The President has no filter, no self-control, you have told yourself. If he were an anti-Semite — a Nazi sympathizer, a friend of the Jew-hating Klan — we would know about it, by now. By now, he would surely have told us.
Yesterday, in a long and ragged off-the-cuff address to the press corps, President Trump told us. During a moment that white supremacist godfather Steve Bannon has apparently described as a “defining” one for this Administration, the President expressed admiration and sympathy for a group of white supremacist demonstrators who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, flaunting Swastikas and openly chanting, along with vile racist slogans, “Jews will not replace us!” Among those demonstrators, according to Trump, were “a lot” of “innocent” and “very fine people.”
So, now you know. First he went after immigrants, the poor, Muslims, trans people and people of color, and you did nothing. You contributed to his campaign, you voted for him. You accepted positions on his staff and his councils. You entered into negotiations, cut deals, made contracts with him and his government.
Now he’s coming after you. The question is: what are you going to do about it? If you don’t feel, or can’t show, any concern, pain or understanding for the persecution and demonization of others, at least show a little self-interest. At least show a little sechel. At the very least, show a little self-respect.
To Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and our other fellow Jews currently serving under this odious regime: We call upon you to resign; and to the President’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen: Fire your client.
To Sheldon Adelson and our other fellow Jews still engaged in making the repugnant calculation that a hater of Arabs must be a lover of Jews, or that money trumps hate, or that a million dollars’ worth of access can protect you from one boot heel at the door: Wise up.
To the government of Israel, and our fellow Jews living there: Wise up.
To Jared Kushner: You have one minute to do whatever it takes to keep the history of your people from looking back on you as among its greatest traitors, and greatest fools; that minute is nearly past. To Ivanka Trump: Allow us to teach you an ancient and venerable phrase, long employed by Jewish parents and children to one another at such moments of family crisis: I’ll sit shiva for you. Try it out on your father; see how it goes.
Among all the bleak and violent truths that found confirmation or came slouching into view amid the torchlight of Charlottesville is this: Any Jew, anywhere, who does not act to oppose President Donald Trump and his administration acts in favor of anti-Semitism; any Jew who does not condemn the President, directly and by name, for his racism, white supremacism, intolerance and Jew hatred, condones all of those things.
To our fellow Jews, in North America, in Israel, and around the world: What side are you on?
Berkeley, California, 8/16/17
Until last night I had grown weary of the petitions to sign, the checks to send ($18.00 each time) the Move on Dot Orgs, the Nancy Pelosi's desperate emails, the Rachel Maddow's haranguing monologues. In fact I had begun calling my home The TRUMP FREE ZONE.
When conversations started to lean toward politics, I sharply announced, "No not here, not now, not in my sacred space. We can talk about the deer eating our morning glory buds, we can talk about the road race, Illumination night, our latest house guests who stayed too long." But i will not let that very broken boy’s energy into my house (of worship).
For a while I was ok watching and talking about what a brilliant job Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher have been doing making us laugh and giving us the real news. But even that has begun to not be funny for me anymore.
Then last night, sitting around a beautiful table with beautiful friends in a beautiful Vineyard home, I suddenly thought and then said, "Is this what the German Jews were doing? Living in a bubble of denial? Keeping their heads in the sand, saying things like, 'He'll be gone, this wont last, they're all crazy, nothing can happen here." And then a year later they couldn't leave.
My grandmother's family thought she was nuts. She left. They all perished in Auschwitz. She had "seychel" (yiddish word meaning to pursue knowledge and to leave the world a better place than when you entered it). She didn't leave me a small cashe of precious jewels, but she did leave me a shitload of seychel.
And then this email forwarded by my friend Jeanette from Paris arrives in my inbox today.
So now I don't know what to do. I don't know what our next step is but I feel emboldened. I am not letting myself feel frightened.
My friend Kate has a Bernie alert on her phone and she has not put her head in the sand. My sister is iistening to all her spiritual teachers. Her astrologer says things are going to get darker. Kryon says it is all perfect and it will flip to the light.
My friend Jane brings her laptop over and we listen to her teacher who channels Mary Magdelene and the message is Love is all there is. I go to a sangha with my friend Jackie and she reads from Thich Nhat Hanh and he talks about the five aggregates one of them being perception. I have an ap with guided meditations and Tara Brach brings me back to center. And of course my main man Ram Dass says love serve remember.
The remember part keeps flashing in my peripheral vision. Never forget was the appetizer that came with every meal in my early childhood.
So honestly I don’t quite know what to do.
I'll take any suggestions.
It's easy on our magical island to think everything is fine.
Now I know it's not.