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Anna Liz Nichols Donahue | May 17, 2020

Noah Arbit, founder and chair of Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, said the rise of antisemitism is an expected trend due to the rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

“Antisemitism is unequivocally political. I think when you have politicians at the highest levels of government, particularly the president, using anti-semitic rhetoric and invoking anti semitic tropes, there is a tone that is set in this country,” he said.

Voting out Trump will not end antisemitism in Michigan, Arbit said. Michigan has a tortured history with the problem, despite having a comparatively small Jewish population. Still, the No. 1 priority to defeat antisemitism is to take away Trump’s position of power, he argued.

“That is the bottom line, because what he does to really radicalize people and to stoke the flames of hate in this rhetoric is unprecedented,” Arbit said. “Extinguishing the fire still leaves some coals, but that’s that’s what we have to do.”

Despite the spike in antisemitism, the state has several Jewish leaders, including state Attorney General Dana Nessel, U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), who were all elected in 2018.

Representation matters, Arbit said, but these victories for the community are not unvarnished positives. He noted these leaders have been vocal about the hateful rhetoric and prejudice they have endured.

Arbit said the nation will reflect on the Trump administration and what was allowed to happen for years to come. 

“From day one, Trump said that he wasn’t going to be president of all Americans,” Arbit said. "Every day that he has been president, he has lived that out fully and completely,” he continued. “We all deserve a president and leadership that is committed to the welfare, even if we disagree about how they get there, of each and every individual American. Fifty years from now, that’s what we’ll look back on, the worst crime of Donald Trump.”

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