In a sharp rebuke of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, a prominent Jewish religious organization on Sunday announced that it will “redirect” money that the billionaire has donated in previous years to anti-discrimination education programs and urged other groups to do the same.
“Our history, our faith and our values teach us that we cannot sit idly by when others are singled out for derision and when intolerance is fed,” Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt wrote Sunday in an article published in Time magazine.
Trump has donated $56,000 in the past 10 years, according to the Anti-Defamation League's estimates, and has attended events held by the group. They say the money will be funneled into “anti-bias education programs that address exactly the kind of stereotyping and scapegoating he has injected into this political season.”
While commending Trump's past contributions to various charities, Greenblatt said that he and the organization decided to reconsider the donations "in light of how Trump has changed."
The announcement by ADL, which was founded with the mission of opposing anti-Semitism, comes on the eve of a highly contested appearance by Trump at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Last week, about 40 rabbis announced that they would boycott Trump’s speech at the pro-Israel AIPAC on Monday.
Greenblatt acknowledged the tensions in his piece, saying that Trump’s “penchant to slander minorities, slur refugees, dismiss First Amendment protections and cheer on violence” has given many members of the Jewish community pause.
“The Jewish community has long placed a premium on promoting values of tolerance and building a pluralistic and more diverse society — values that seem at odds with Trump’s message on the campaign trail,” he wrote. “We are taking this step to demonstrate that, even as the campaign has surfaced ugly rhetoric, we can reach higher.”
Trump, whose daughter and son-in-law are Jewish, has pledged in the past to stay “neutral” in order to broker a deal between Israel and Palestine, a promise that has been met with skepticism by pro-Israel advocates. He also has been heavily criticized for not releasing a detailed outline of the sort of deal he would pursue.
But many Jewish leaders also have raised concerns that extend beyond U.S.-Israel relations, fearful that the tone of his campaign has instigated discrimination against minority groups. The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman reported last week on those fears:
“Some say they hear echoes of a painful past under fascism in Trump’s recent comments appearing to praise authoritarian figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and in the way that Trump stokes economic anger among his supporters. And they point to Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and his harsh rhetoric on illegal Mexican migrants as reminiscent of the anti-immigrant sentiment that greeted European Jews in generations past."
Trump regularly mentions the importance of defending Israel at campaign rallies and has sided with pro-Israel leaders who have criticized President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Trump continued his outreach to pro-Israel groups ahead of his speech.
“There is nobody more pro-Israel than I am," said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "I think making a deal would be in Israel's interests. I'll tell you what, I don't know one Jewish person that doesn't want to have a deal, a good deal, a proper deal, but a really good deal.”