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Aytzim Statement in Support of Immigrants, the Climate and Civility

Feb. 7, 2017 — 12 Shvat 5777


Aytzim has a long history of being a Jewish-environmental organization composed of people who care not just about Judaism and the Earth, but about the peace and wellbeing of all of our planet’s inhabitants, regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender or economic status. It is therefore with grave concern that Aytzim views the recent policy shifts by the new presidential administration in Washington.


On climate, the new president already has overturned the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline; proceeded to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed by Native American lands without being rerouted; removed references to climate change from the websites of both the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency; planned to appoint a man who denies climate change to head the E.P.A.; appointed the head of ExxonMobil to be Secretary of State; and pledged to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate-change accords. These actions are not surprising given that the new president has called climate change a hoax, but nonetheless represent worrisome developments. Climate change is the most disruptive danger that humans have faced in modern history — and we have a biblical obligation to protect the Earth (Gen. 2:15). Pretending that climate change isn’t happening only leads to policies that hasten its ill effects while neglecting our responsibility to God to care for Creation.


Aytzim is similarly worried at the new administration’s scapegoating of Muslims and immigrants. Much of the anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant rhetoric is reminiscent of inter-war Germany’s anti-Semitic speech that led to the Holocaust. We support fighting terrorism and we resist the misguided notions that entire peoples and countries are to blame. Immigration has been one of the biggest blessings for the United States — as well as for Israel — and it’s worth remembering that we are all immigrants. We pray for the health and safety of our Abrahamic siblings.


We also have observed that those who have hatred in their hearts have taken the hate speech of the new presidential administration — including the white-supremacist chief strategist — as a signal that it’s safe to practice their hatred in the open. The drastic increase in swastika graffiti and other anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant activities is cause for alarm.


These new policies take America away from justice, which the Torah commands us to pursue (Deut. 16:20). As American Jews who care about both the Earth and its inhabitants, we call for policies that really will make America great — smart climate-change action, and a return to civil discourse and policy without baseless hatred and fear mongering — and renew our days as of old (Aicha 5:21).







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