Young Jews blocked the entrance to the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City this afternoon, protesting the GOP in the wake of the killing of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
In videos posted to social media the group is seen surrounding a display of kippas, or religious skullcaps, with the names of the victims of Saturday’s shooting atop a banner that reads “GOP: Tell White Nationalists They Don’t Have A Place in Your Party.”
The organization the Jewish Vote posted on Twitter, “Trump and the GOP are directly responsible for the wave of white nationalist terrorism sweeping the country. Hate speech coming from the White House is causing hate violence in our communities.”
We do not want to be here sitting shiva and reciting the mourner’s Kaddish. But #WeAreHere at the @metgopclub because Trump and the @GOP are directly responsible for white nationalist violence against our, and so many other communities. #EndWhiteNationalism pic.twitter.com/xvWpkADpms
— Bear Jew 🌹 (@joelfrominwood) October 30, 2018
— Rafael Shimunov 🔥 (@rafaelshimunov) October 30, 2018
The sit-in occurred while President Donald Trump was en route to Pittsburgh with his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump. The president’s initial comments following the deadliest attack on American Jews in the U.S. in modern history were met with anger– and rebuffs of meetings with him on his travels to visit the mourners.
On Saturday hours after the shooting Trump suggested that had the Tree of Life Synagogue posted armed guards out front, it could have prevented the tragedy. “If they had protection inside the results would have been far better,” Trump said. “Maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”
— Gili Getz 🔥 (@giligetz) October 30, 2018
— (((Jeremy Swack))) (@jdaswack) October 30, 2018
Jews+ allies are gathering at NYC’s Metropolitan Club because this club recently welcomed white nationalists who advocate for+ engage in violence (https://t.co/ih9zGnfZ6m).
The @GOP has been taken over by white nationalists. #WeAreHere 2demand they reject it. #EndWhiteNationalism pic.twitter.com/BSYDigdiFQ
— Justice League NYC (@NYjusticeleague) October 30, 2018
The White House’s failure to mention by name the rising trends of white nationalism, or the rhetoric of opposing “globalists” are regarded as a dog whistle for anti-Jewish sentiments. They were espoused by accused shooter Robert Bowers, and have angered many in progressive Jewish circles.
Bowers was charged on Saturday with 29 federal crimes including 11 counts of murder and hate crimes.
“There is a direct line between Trump’s white nationalism and the violence that we have seen, on the largest terrorist attack on Jews in American history,” said co-founder of IfNotNow Rafael Shimunov in a live feed of the protest outside of the GOP office.
Shimunov explained the GOP building was chosen as the site of the protest because earlier in the month the club hosted Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right off-shoot of the alt-right that brands itself around “Western values.”
“We’re here at the Republican club that hosted a Nazi and claimed that he didn’t know he was violent, even though he was there months prior and he was speaking violently and calling for violence,” Shimunov said.
After the October 12 event at which McInnes staged a mock execution, around 30 members of the Proud Boys, a far-right male-only organization, beat three protesters. According to a witness who spoke to Buzzfeed in the first report of the encounter, Proud Boys yelled, “Do you feel brave now, faggot?’” while punching the demonstrators. Police later arrested five members of the right-wing group.
Today Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a Michigan rally alongside Messianic religious leader Loren Jacobs, who leads a congregation that posits Jesus as the Messiah and adheres to many Jewish observances. Jacobs led a blessing over GOP candidates seeking election in the midterms.
Shimunov referred to Jacobs as a “quote on quote ‘a rabbi,’” lamenting, “they didn’t pray for the Jews who were killed in Squirrel Hill in the Tree of Life Synagogue, they prayed for Republican candidates to win,” adding, “now we have Mike Pence promoting a rabbi who his job is to erase Jews religiously by converting them into Christianity, this is just open anti-Semitism.”
We are standing outside the Metropolitan Republican Club demanding they answer for welcoming white nationalism into their club and the @GOP party. #WeAreHere #EndWhiteNationalism pic.twitter.com/JZY9G4KNT8
— Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) October 30, 2018