New Year, New Challenges

-Burt Siegel

As soon as it became obvious on Election Night that Donald Trump would become the next president of the United States, millions of us reacted in ways similar to how Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes the series of emotions we feel when a loved one dies: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. We probably should add outright fear to that list. [Read more…]

Faithful Republican Elector Refuses to Vote for Trump

chris_suprun_cnn

Christopher Suprun. Photo: CNN.

Only a very few presidential Electoral College Electors decided not to vote for the candidate chosen by their home state. Several of them were forced to change their vote, or disqualified and replaced by alternates. Texas is one of the states that allows electors to vote in accordance with their conscience, which is in keeping with the Founders original intent. However, the Republican party expects electors to vote for the Republican nominee. [Read more…]

Twitter and the Evil Tongue

For those of us immersed in social media, there is an endless assault on our senses by happenings large and small.

The president-elect sends a Twitter message criticizing the leader of a local union of the United Steelworkers for doing a “terrible job” and sending American jobs abroad. The tweet goes viral, and the union leader receives random threats from people on the basis of no known facts whatsoever.

A baseless charge linking Hillary Clinton to sex crimes is tweeted by a retired army officer, now in line to be the national security adviser in the new administration. The tweet is part of a deluge of fake news that reaches a particularly susceptible reader in North Carolina, who goes out and shoots up a pizza parlor to “investigate” the charge.

Comet Ping Pong is the pizza place in Washington where the shooting took place. Photo by Elizabeth Murphy from Alexandria, VA.

Comet Ping Pong is the pizza place in Washington where the shooting took place. Photo by Elizabeth Murphy from Alexandria, VA.

Being lampooned on social media is particularly harmful because there is no effective redress. Even if you find the source, there is no way to reverse the damage. The hundreds or thousands of viewers are beyond reach. Social media also offers an enticing immediacy and anonymity. Retweeting takes just a few keystrokes. One need not know the original author nor have any independent opinion of the worth of the message.

However, it would be wrong to single out Twitter in this regard. Moving at a slightly slower pace, but still beating out all news media, is Facebook. And not far behind is talk radio, a continuing stream of facts, fiction and innuendo.

We can’t help but respect movie stars, politicians and even friends and neighbors who achieve high numbers of “followers.” But we know that the path to achieving those inordinately large numbers is often just flavored or off-flavor gossip.

In Jewish law, gossip is a serious sin. Lashon ha-ra, the evil tongue, is a temptation we must resist. Yet in an age of social media, gossip is always too easy, too nearby and seemingly too impersonal.

Devout Jews perceive the injunction of lashon ha-ra to include two obligations: First, not to speak evil or gossip about others. And second, not to listen to gossip, because it is understood that the listener is an enabler and hence an inextricable part of the sin. So upon hearing gossip, a Jew should cover his ears, at one time a familiar motion.

Is there a similar defense while tapping on a cell phone, clicking at a computer or listening to your car radio? If not, we need to invent one. Perhaps there should be a special button on our electronics to mute evil gossip. Until that button is invented, however, we need to observe the mitzvah of “lashon ha-ra” and strike an electronic pose comparable to covering our ears.

Young, Jewish and American: What Trump’s Presidency Means for Us

Donald Trump’s presidency is now a reality. Over the next 72 days, the peaceful transition of power will begin: policies will be developed, cabinet members will be appointed and inaugural plans will be put in place. Yet President-elect Trump’s victory brings about an uncertainty that American Jews have never quite experienced before. We have already seen protests as well as racist and anti-Semitic graffiti in Philadelphia and around the country, and fundamental questions about Israel and social policies remain unanswered.

As President Obama’s tenure winds down, and President-elect Trump prepares to take office, what do we as young Jewish Americans need to know? Tribe 12 brings together the following panel of experts (who also happen to be millennials — well, under 40 anyway), who will provide perspective, insight and rational next steps:

Jeremy Bannett, Associate Director, ADL Philadelphia (Anti-Defamation League)
Gregg Roman, Director, Middle East Forum
Miriam Steinberg-Egeth, Director, Center City Kehillah
Dr. Seth Kaufer, Republican Ward Leader
Brett Goldman, Moderator

What do we need to know, how do we stay informed, and what steps can we take to be engaged during this unprecedented period of history in America? Bring your questions for our expert panel.

Field House is hosting this event and offering special prices on drinks and and on a select bites menu.

Claim: Trump Never Said “Block Muslims”

— Laura Keiter

Fox co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that President-elect Donald Trump never advocated in favor of blocking Muslims from entry into the United States. In December of 2015, Trump read off a policy proposal calling for the “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims coming into the U.S. Trump doubled down in July, arguing that he is “looking at” banning people from certain “territories” where Muslims reside and on November 10 the Trump campaign staff removed, and then restored, Trump’s call for banning Muslims on his campaign website. After denying his call to block Muslims from entering the U.S., Guilfoyle’s co-host Dana Perino added that “ban and block” are the same and have the same effect: [Read more…]

Waking Up to a New World: A New President Is Elected

We awoke this morning to a new world. Of course, whenever a new president is elected, one can anticipate changes, if not in substance then in appearance, style and nuanced differences. But the change we anticipate today requires us to consider the notion of “a new world” more literally. [Read more…]

Jewish Organizations Respond to the Election of Donald Trump

In a letter to the president-elect on behalf of B’nai B’rith International (BBI), the organization’s president, Gary P. Saltzman, and its executive vice president, Daniel S. Mariaschin, congratulate Donald Trump on his “historic victory in the presidential election” and promise their “active support.” The letter continues, “We warmly welcome your election night pledge to help the country ‘bind the wounds of division’ and ‘come together as one people.’”

Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped)After enumerating a litany of issues that the president-elect will confront when he assumes the office of president, Saltzman and Mariaschin direct their attention to Israel:

B’nai B’rith applauds your stated commitment to Israel’s security and your pledge to do everything in your power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We recognize that American leadership — and America’s crucial partnership with its democratic ally Israel — are essential to our shared goal of a peaceful and stable Middle East. It greatly reassures us, therefore, to know that Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy and a country that has battled terror and aggression since its independence, will have a staunch ally in the president of the United States.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) also congratulates Donald Trump on his victory, but urges reconciliation for this divided nation.

“We wish President-elect Trump well moving forward,” says David Bernstein, JCPA’s president and CEO. “We commend him on the message of unity he conveyed in his acceptance speech, and urge him to continue to work toward bringing the country together.”

“The American people have spoken,” says Cheryl Fishbein, board chair of JCPA. “And as our great democratic tradition dictates, it’s time for a peaceful transition of power.”

“We call upon the president-elect to continue to assure the nation, particularly constituencies feeling most vulnerable, that the country will live up to its highest ideals and respect the rights of all people,” says Bernstein.