Rabbi Kulwin on Anti-Semitism and Policical Tone and Tenor
Rabbi Clifford Kulwin of Temple B'nai Abraham discusses anti-Semitism and shares his thoughts on how the tone and tenor of our nation’s leaders has a correlation to violence we are witnessing around the world.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. We are in fact coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in Newark, New Jersey. It is my pleasure to introduce Rabbi Clifford Kulwin, Spiritual Leader of Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey. Good to see you Rabbi. You know, we're doing this program toward the back end of 2018, and it will repeat after that. The... a recent study by the Anti-Defamation League showed that, in fact, incidents - anti-Semitic incidents - have risen over 60 percent in just the last few years because? Because... well first of all, there's not common... there's not consensus that those figures are necessarily accurate. What do you think? I think that there is probably perhaps a small rise in such incidents, but what there is, which I think is even more serious, is that there is a much greater sense that it is acceptable to be loudly anti-Semitic, and to see the kind of displays that we saw in Virginia some time back. And my personal opinion is that the fellow who committed the atrocity in Pittsburgh just a short while ago actually felt somewhat emboldened by the comments that have come from above, that made him realize that this was... Define above. The voice of the president. The voice of the president? I believe that. A direct correlation in your mind between President Trump's words and the rise in anti-Semitic actions and/or rhetoric? A direct correlation? No. But I think it's a contributing factor, and I'll explain why. Sure. First of all, I don't think the president is anti-Semitic at all. I think that would be difficult, given that he's got a... His son-in-law and his daughter are Jewish? Precisely. Precisely. His daughter converted? Precisely. But I do think that his style of rhetoric, and the base that he pays a great deal of tension to riling up, is a style of rhetoric that leads to violent statements being made, violent imagery being acceptable, and to me, the crowning example of that was during that march in Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia... What were they shouting? "Blood and soil." "Jews will not replace us." Which was actually taken from a specific mantra that was uttered by the Nazis. "Blood and...?" "...soil." "...soil. Jews...?" "...will not replace us." And this was a group of white supremacists who were marching in Charlottesville, and the president, when he spoke about that incident and others said, quote, "There are good people on both sides." Correct. Your reaction to that? It's a reprehensible thing to say, and I don't... I'll be charitable, I don't think he was thinking at the time what he was saying. I think it was a difficult situation..."