According to Rabbi Jeremy Wieder, “racism runs deep in the Orthodox community,” as noted in his article, “Racism in the Orthodox Community,” (December 1, 2016), And although he admits that “I can’t tell you numbers,” racism among the Orthodox is a “very, very real issue.” Having failed to cite even one piece of scientific data to support his claim, the rabbi nevertheless paints with a broad brush and apparently condemns the majority of observant Jews as racists. Putting aside for the moment the absurdity of Rabbi Wieder’s claim, he is guilty of the same smugness exhibited by those who dislike Orthodox Jewry. How many times have we heard non-Orthodox Jews accuse Hasidic and Yeshivish Jews of dishonesty in business? And although the vast majority of Hasidic and Yeshivish businessmen are honest and noble in their daily personal interactions with both Jew and non-Jew alike, that fact is conveniently ignored when it suits a hateful agenda.
So what is Rabbi Wieder’s agenda and how did he arrive at his conclusion that Orthodox Jews are racists? Although the rabbi claims that he does not care who the Orthodox voted for in the recent presidential election, he unequivocally states that President-elect Trump is a racist. It is no secret that the majority of Orthodox Jews voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. According to a New York Times exit poll, 71 percent of American Jews voted for Clinton, while only 24 percent backed Trump. But in traditional Orthodox Jewish enclaves, the exit polls showed that Trump won the day. And this is what I believe irks Rabbi Wieder. Liberal Jewish Americans cannot fathom how any voter—much less a Jewish voter—could support Trump. Orthodox Jewish voters rejected that racist label and supported Trump in great numbers as they believed and continue to believe that Trump will do a better job addressing the important issues of the day.
According to a poll just released by the Brookings Institution, a majority of Democrats believe Israel is a burden on the United States and has too much influence on American politics. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believed President-elect Trump would favor Israel in any future negotiations with the Palestinians. The same percentage said they want Trump to be an impartial party to the negotiations. With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in America and the demonization of Jews in general and Israel in particular continuing on many college campuses, Rabbi Wieder would do well to focus his racism lens somewhere other than on Orthodox Jews.