Conference of Presidents Condemns Anti-Semitic Rhetoric, Nazi Slogans and Gestures at National Policy Institute Conference and Welcomes President-Elect Trump’s Disavowal and Condemnation of the Group

November 22, 2016, New York, NY  - - Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today condemned the blatant anti-Semitic rhetoric, Nazi slogans and gestures in a speech by the head of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and welcome President-Elect Trump’s disavowal and condemnation of the group.

 

November 22, 2016, New York, NY  - - Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today condemned the blatant anti-Semitic rhetoric, Nazi slogans and gestures in a speech by the head of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and expressed concern at the increasing divisive and inflammatory tone of public discourse across the ideological spectrum.

Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents said, “We welcome President-elect Trump’s unambiguous disavowal and condemnation of Mr. Spencer’s repugnant rhetoric and ideology in the remarks he made today during his on-the-record meeting with The New York Times.

We are deeply concerned by the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric that continues to mark public discourse.  Resonating profoundly within the Jewish community and disquieting to the overwhelming majority of Americans, is the heightened visibility and prominence of individuals and groups from across the ideological spectrum promoting extremist ideas.  These ideas are antithetical to the foundational principles of American democracy. To be effective in addressing the challenges facing the U.S., at home and abroad, there must be a recognition and reassertion of our common values and interests.

We are appalled by language used by Mr. Spencer in his speech which echoed Nazi slogans and encouraged those of his followers who were in attendance to emulate the odious Nazi salute and chants.  There is no place in our society for any anti-Semitic or racist rhetoric or the glorification of Nazi ideology.  The emergence of such offensive rhetoric, demeaning and even threatening to segments of American society adds to the tensions and widens the divides.

It is particularly disturbing that Mr. Spencer’s speech was delivered in a federal government facility named in honor of President Ronald Reagan, a man who would never have tolerated the association of the U.S. government with such outrageous attacks on the Jewish people.  While the First Amendment protects those who espouse abhorrent views, that same freedom empowers the vast majority to express opposition to repugnant ideas. Indeed, it is our obligation to do so.   

The Conference of Presidents and many of our member organizations believe the overt and highly visible expressions of anti-Semitic, bigoted and racist tropes call for strong, clear condemnation.  We hope President-elect Trump’s remarks today will be joined to reset the national conversation.

The President-elect and our nation’s political, religious, civic, education, media and business leaders, from across the diverse spectrum of American society, must continue to vigorously denounce all expressions of hate targeting any group or individual, and to reinforce American values and ideals that promote our common goals with respect, and in a spirit of shared dedication to our cherished democracy. 

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