On April 9, President Trump Tweeted a message featuring a quote from a Fox News interview with Jeff Ballabon, the CEO of B2 Strategic. Mr. Ballabon is a major supporter of the President nd is now considered an advisor to the President. In the Fox interview, Ballabon reacted to a statement by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in which she labeled Stephen Miller, Senior White House Advisor to the President, a “White Nationalist.” The Congresswoman made this remark after it surfaced that Mr. Miller was apparently behind the ousting of the now former Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, and the plan for increasing immigration restrictions including a revival of the family separation policy.
Mr. Ballabon opened the interview by saying, “What’s completely unacceptable is for Congresswoman Omar to target Jews, in this case Stephen Miller.” This statement by Mr. Ballabon is purposefully inflammatory, did not take into account that Ms. Ilhan was responding to Mr. Miller’s attitudes and actions regarding immigration and was clearly intended to divide the Jewish and Muslim communities. It is true that some of Ms. Omar’s recent comments were received by the Jewish community with various levels of discomfort, surprise and even outrage. In response, Congresswoman Ilhan apologized for hurting Jewish hearts and is now in consultation with leaders of the Jewish community. Mr. Ballabon took none of this into account when he characterized the Congresswoman placing Mr. Miller in the White Nationalist camp as an attack on “Jews”. Doing so, makes Ballabon’s opinion that much more extreme, damaging, inappropriate and completely off the mark.
Jewish and Muslim identities are defined by behavior. We respond to mandates. Ironically, even our values are mandated. Within both of our religious cultures, welcoming the stranger is a basic value. We consider ourselves Abrahamic peoples because we share Abraham as an ancestor (making Muslims and Jews more like step brothers and sisters than “cousins”, as some categorize us). According to Jewish tradition, the tent of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had a flap of their tent open to each direction of the wind, so that all who approached their home would know that they were welcome. In fact, had that not been the case, then Abraham and Sarah would not have welcomed in three strangers who turned out to be three angels. Those angels’ message to the old couple was that they were going to have a child of their own, 13 years after their first son, Ishmael, was born between Abraham and Hagar, Sarah’s concubine. Ishmael is the patriarch of the Muslim people and Abraham and Sarah’s second son, Isaac, inherited the mantel of leading the fledgling Jewish ideology from his parents. In other words, the “open tent” made it possible for Muslims and Jews to be family.
Both as a nation and globally, we see in the response to recent hate crimes that most Jews and Muslims embrace the feeling of being family to one another (as do the authors of this statement). We are a common target of those who openly call themselves “White Supremacists” and those who covertly embrace White Supremacist attitude and posture, as Stephen Miller apparently does. One doesn’t have to be a non-Jewish Caucasian in order to qualify as a person with White Nationalist attitudes and one does not need to affiliate with any particular group in order to be so described. Jews and Muslims are not races, evidenced by the many Muslims and Jews in the world who are of various racial, ethnic and national backgrounds. A person who articulates and/or promotes the superiority of Caucasians, in any way, should not be surprised when s/he is identified by others as a White Nationalist. White Nationalism is an aggressive and violent stance. Accordingly, when those who are the targets of such a such hatred perceive a person behaving and articulating a philosophy that echoes White Nationalism, in consideration fpr their own safety, they must identify that danger for what it is. Stephen Miller, despite his Jewish origins, acts and speaks like a White Nationalist. It is too dangerous for Muslims and Jews to see him any other way.
Because we are family, Mr. Ballabon, Mr. Miller or Mr. Trump cannot divide us and we will resist their racist attitudes and actions in any way we can. We will act to dismantle the walls that people like that triumvirate attempt to put between us. We will act to dismantle the walls that people like that triumvirate put between races. We will act to dismantle the walls that people like that triumvirate put up in our cities, creating areas of racial isolation. We will act to dismantle the walls that people like that triumvirate put up in our legal system, targeting people of color and those who they see as “other”. We will act to dismantle the walls that people like that triumvirate put up at our borders, walls whose underlying purpose is to keep out people of color and/or ethnic differences. The President may try to change America via Tweet, and the Jeff Ballabons and Stephen Millers of the world may give them their support but their attempts are shallow and thin against value systems that come from the Core-of-the-Universe.