White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller speaks to members of the media, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, outside of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

US rabbis from three Jewish movements call for Stephen Miller’s firing

(RNS) — In a joint statement, three American Jewish movements and their rabbinical associations have called for the dismissal of Stephen Miller, President Trump's senior adviser, in light of emails documented by a civil rights group that suggest he has white supremacist views.

The statement, titled “White supremacy has no place in the White House,” comes after a Nov. 12 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed portions of emails Miller sent to editors of the conservative website Breitbart during 2015 and 2016, before he began working in the White House.

Those emails contain references to anti-immigrant ideology and a defense of Confederate statues in the wake of the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, among other things. Miller’s emails consist mostly of advice to editors of Breitbart, the anti-immigrant news site previously headed by Stephen K. Bannon, another former White House adviser.

“Such views are reprehensible on their own, but they are entirely unacceptable for someone tasked with shaping the laws, interests, and values of the United States,” the statement says.

The statement comes on the heels of a letter signed by more than 100 Democratic lawmakers Thursday (Nov. 21) that also called on the president to fire Miller.

Miller is considered to be Trump’s main adviser on immigration and is associated with the travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries as well as the child separation policy, in which thousands of children were separated from their parents at the Mexico border early in the Trump administration. The policy has since been abandoned.

The Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements and the three rabbinical associations for those movements signed the letter. All three represent the more liberal branches of American Judaism.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said the statement came together quickly.

“There was not much debate,” Pesner said. “The rabbis across the spectrum were in agreement right from the beginning. A white supremacist in the White House sends chills down rabbis’ spines.”

The statement also rejects the idea that a call for Miller’s firing should be viewed as anti-Semitic. Miller, 34, is Jewish and grew up attending Beth Shir Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Santa Monica, California.

“His personal faith should not be called into question but also should not be used to shield him from legitimate criticism,” the statement says.

Miller's own childhood rabbi, Neil Comess-Daniels, rebuked him in a Rosh Hashanah sermon last year.

 

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