Rabbinic group calls for civility amid rising political tensions
January 13, 2021

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in matters of public policy, called today for a renewal of civility on both sides of the political aisle following the riot at Capitol Hill and escalating political tensions over the past week. The rabbis noted the importance of curbing increasing political extremism, working together to negotiate bipartisan support for legislation, and making decisions in light of what is truly best for the country.

“The current polarized state of politics is unsustainable for a civilized country, and both sides need to step back from the brink,” said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Regional Vice President of the CJV. “Whether or not President Trump intended that marchers should break into the Capitol, he still bears responsibility for a ploy gone wrong. By the same token, he remains very popular outside the beltway and to initiate impeachment proceedings with a week or so left in his term is vindictive and absurd.”

“Similarly, the support expressed for the rioters and looters this past summer has created an atmosphere of lawlessness in America, such that people with grievances will try to get away with as much criminal behavior as they can and take refuge behind supportive politicians,” Rabbi Pruzansky added.

“Democrats should stop defining themselves as just ‘Trump haters,’ and Republicans should stop perceiving all Democrats as socialists trying to destroy the country. Both parties should commit to resume what was normal practice until a little over a decade ago, wherein both sides negotiate and compromise so that each is at least partially mollified with the results and neither feels ignored.”

The CJV also decried the nasty nature of attacks against those coming from a differing political viewpoint, noting that efforts to stifle free speech or conflate political affiliation with violence only exacerbate tensions.

“In today’s political climate, the imperative for truth has largely fallen by the wayside, as people’s statements are distorted and conflated with that which they did not say, and people’s search for truth is too often condemned, muzzled, and banned—perhaps out of fear that they may be correct,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the CJV’s Rabbinic Circle.

“As Jews, we abide by the laws and values of the Torah, irrespective of political affiliation. One of the Torah’s pivotal values is truth: we must not become wrapped up in rhetoric and distortion, and we must embrace the truth, however unpopular it might be. Let us allow people to express their opinions, and accurately and dispassionately evaluate their merits, rather than pouncing on them when they appear to be of one political persuasion or the other.”

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