Since the massacre of worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, many have rushed to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the American president. At least two well-known Jewish journalists—almost immediately after the attack—took this claim one step further by holding Jewish supporters of Donald Trump accountable for the murders as well. Rabbi David Wolpe responds:
My synagogue is on the west side of Los Angeles. On a rough guess, about half of my congregants support Donald Trump. Many of those who do, but certainly not all, are from the Persian community. We have had frank discussions. They know I deplore many of the things he says and I oppose much of what he does. . . . They also know that we respect and listen to one another, that I do not preach politics at them but do speak with them and learn from them, and that our relationship in many cases is one not only of affection but of genuine love.
So when I see major American Jewish figures tell me that my congregants are illegitimate, my blood boils a little bit. After the tragedy in Pittsburgh, perhaps because I spend so much of my time at the bedside of the sick and dying, I expected that the first impulse of Jews in particular would be simply to offer messages of sorrow and condolence [rather than to suggestion that] more than half of my Shabbat-morning congregants, and in some more traditional synagogues almost all of them, should have the doors barred against their entry; that Jews who make minyans, pay shiva calls, underwrite nursing homes and kindergartens—people who make Judaism possible . . . for other people—should be cast out of our midst because of the levers they pull in the privacy of a voting booth. And what, after all, would a Jew who fled from Iran know about anti-Semitism—or protecting the Jewish community?
[M]y congregants are not the ones who are dangerous, and refashioning blood libels so that Jews are the perpetrators is ethically appalling—and communally toxic.