Marc R. Stanley of Dallas, Texas, Chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) and David A. Harris, President and CEO of NJDC, today jointly issued the following statement calling on national Republican leadership - including Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) - to condemn the actions of key leaders of the Republican Party of Texas who have sought to oust the Jewish Republican Speaker of the Texas House apparently on the basis of his faith:
It is appalling and shocking that in this day and age, leaders of Texas’ Republican Party have injected charged religious rhetoric into the race for Speaker of the House. Just a few weeks ago, emails appeared calling for current Speaker Joe Straus, a Jewish Republican from San Antonio, to be ousted in favor of ‘conservative Christian leadership.’ Now another email chain has surfaced, this time between two members of the State Republican Executive Committee, echoing that sentiment. Adding insult to injury, we now have a member of the State Republican Executive Committee insisting that Christians ‘do the best jobs over all,’ and invoking the dreaded ‘some of my best friends are Jews’ line.
This invocation of religion and dialogue asserting that ‘Jews and other non-Christians need not apply for GOP leadership positions in Texas’ is completely unacceptable and has no place in our public discourse. It is detrimental to our political process and, among so many other things, erodes community and interfaith relations. Unfortunately, this type of extremist rhetoric is nothing new; we have seen certain leaders and members of the Republican Party bring religion into the conversation repeatedly in previous election cycles. It’s repugnant, and it has to stop.
Republican leaders cannot continue to sit idly by while the extremist factions of their Party continue to grow and grow. National Republican leaders, including incoming House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, must immediately condemn the actions of their fellow Party leaders and members and call on them to apologize for this well-documented, egregious behavior.
This is yet another example of how the agenda of the increasingly extremist and growing right wing simply does not reflect the values of the American Jewish community. The GOP claims to be engaging in a significant outreach effort to the American Jewish community, but given that this is how Republican leaders continue to go about it, it is not surprising that the dramatic majority of American Jews continue to support the Democratic Party.