Beloved Jewish novelists and married couple Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman are taking a stand against President Donald Trump in the wake of his response to last weekend’s white supremacist march in Charlottesville.
“Jews will not replace us,” the marchers chanted, some of them waving swastikas. They reportedly attacked counterprotesters by dousing them with pepper spray and lighter fluid and swinging lit torches at them. But Trump ultimately defended the marchers as people who were “very quietly protesting” and suggested that “many sides” were responsible for the violence. "What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” he demanded.
Chabon and Waldman are having none of it. In an open letter published on Medium, addressed to “our fellow Jews, in the United States, in Israel, and around the world,” they declare that Trump has, at last, shown his true colors: He has allied himself with anti-Semitics and white supremacists.
“The question is,” they write, “what are you going to do about it? If you don’t feel, or can’t show, any concern, pain or understanding for the persecution and demonization of others, at least show a little self-interest. At least show a little sechel. At the very least, show a little self-respect.”
Jews still working for the Trump administration should resign, they write, and those who consider the Trump administration to be allies — including the Israeli government — should “wise up.”
But they reserve special instructions for the Jewish members of Trump’s family, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump:
To Jared Kushner: You have one minute to do whatever it takes to keep the history of your people from looking back on you as among its greatest traitors, and greatest fools; that minute is nearly past. To Ivanka Trump: Allow us to teach you an ancient and venerable phrase, long employed by Jewish parents and children to one another at such moments of family crisis: I’ll sit shiva for you [the implication being, because you’re dead to me]. Try it out on your father; see how it goes.
Chabon became a literary celebrity after the 1988 publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, but perhaps his most beloved book is the literary comic book riff The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which won the 2001 Pulitzer. Waldman, who was born in Israel, is a former lawyer who now writes mystery novels and essays about mothering.
“Among all the bleak and violent truths that found confirmation or came slouching into view amid the torchlight of Charlottesville is this,” Chabon and Waldman conclude: “Any Jew, anywhere, who does not act to oppose President Donald Trump and his administration acts in favor of anti-Semitism; any Jew who does not condemn the President, directly and by name, for his racism, white supremacism, intolerance and Jew hatred, condones all of those things.”
You can read the full letter here.