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Discussions of Trump, Racism and Orthodoxy Continue

This is in reply to Aryeh Baer’s letter (“Letter Writers Disagree on Assumptions, Not Facts,” December 15, 2016), which criticized my letter (“Rabbi Wieder Should Focus His Racism Lens Away From the Orthodox Community,” December 8, 2016) contesting Rabbi Jeremy Wieder’s claim that “racism runs deep in the Orthodox community.” Contrary to Mr. Baer’s letter, Rabbi Wieder’s claim is demonstrably false until proven otherwise (“Racism in the Orthodox Community,” December 1, 2016).

As my letter pointedly noted, Rabbi Wieder failed to cite any hard data to support his claim that pervasive racism exists among Orthodox Jews. In response, Mr. Baer claims that “anecdotal evidence” supports Rabbi Wieder and we should therefore take notice. The fact is anecdotal evidence is based on hearsay rather than hard facts. Most experts agree that where only one or a few anecdotes are presented, there is a larger chance that they may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases. And that is exactly how Rabbi Wieder formulated his notion that racism is a problem among the Orthodox. The Rabbi believes that two displays of racism among yeshiva students is sufficient proof to indict an entire Orthodox community. And Mr. Baer is ready to accept this woeful “evidence” as fact.

On more than one occasion, I have heard African Americans spout anti-Semitic statements. If I use these few anecdotes to make the blanket claim that racism therefore runs deep in the African-American community, both Rabbi Wieder and Mr. Baer would undoubtedly label me a racist. And yet, Rabbi Wieder and Mr. Baer expect the readers to accept their de minimis anecdotes as evidence of widespread racism in the Orthodox community. Indeed, Mr. Baer offers no evidence at all to support his bald claim of significant racism among Orthodox Jews. He simply parrots Rabbi Wieder’s statements.

Although Rabbi Wieder states that he does not care much if the Orthodox voted for Trump, that statement is belied by his subsequent bashing of the president-elect as a racist. Mr. Baer joins the party with his own snarky comments. No one has come forward with one verifiable incident showing Trump to be a racist. In fact, people who have known Trump for many years claim to have never heard him say anything racist. The fact that Trump opposes porous borders with Mexico and believes that Muslims entering the United States should be seriously vetted is not a racist belief. It is a simply a matter of securing the homeland for all Americans.

In my letter, I noted that with anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in America and the demonization of Jews and Israel continuing on many college campuses, Rabbi Wieder would do well to focus his racism lens somewhere other than on Orthodox Jews. Mr. Baer claims that is my way of pretending that racism does not exist among Orthodox Jews. I clearly did not say that, proving that either Mr. Baer cannot differentiate between fact and fiction, or he is just better at spreading misstatements than at checking facts.

Finally, I do not believe that Rabbi Wieder or Mr. Baer fear that Donald Trump is a racist. What they do fear, as do most liberal Americans, is that a Trump presidency will be a huge success. For the sake of America and Israel, let’s hope their fears come true.

Gerald Jacobs

Englewood

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