Leading U.S. Jewish Groups, Politicians Hail Steve Bannon's Ouster, but Urge Trump to Do More

Leaders of U.S. Jewish establishment warn that Steve Bannon's dismissal doesn't change Trump's 'outrageous moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and white supremacists'

File photo: Steve Bannon walking off Air Force One, May 13, 2017.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

WASHINGTON - Leading Jewish-American organizations expressed their support on Friday for U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to fire Steve Bannon, his political adviser and strategist identified with the far-right. Bannon has been accused in the past of making anti-semitic remarks, and has described the website he previously edited, Breitbart, as "the platform for the alt-right."

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The Anti Defamation League (ADL), one of the leading organizations devoted to fighting racism and anti-semitism, welcomed Bannon's dismissal. The organization's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said he was "glad to see" Bannon being fired, and called him "the man who fanned the flames of intolerance from his time at Breitbart to his tenure at the White House." Greenblatt added, however, that "this is good news but it must be just the beginning," calling on the administration to fire any staffers who have ties to "white nationalists." 

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Reform movement, tweeted "of course Bannon does not belong in the White House. That has always been clear. Now the focus, rightly, will be on the President and his actions." The Reform movement also emphasized that firing Bannon, as important as it is, isn't a substitute for outlining a policy to fight the far-right. "The key thing is what happens next. What steps will this administration take to confront hate? A staff shake-up is not sufficient," said a statment by the movement's Religious Action Center. 

The left-wing Jewish group J Street also welcomed the news of Bannon's firing, but called on the Trump administration to also fire other prominent White House staffers who have been involved in far-right political movements, most notably the President's senior adviser Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, an official whose role in the White House isn't clearly defined, but who is a frequent speaker on behalf of the administration on television programs. "Bannon is gone, now we need to ged rid of Miller and Gorka," said a petition circulated by the organization to its' supporters. 

Jewish lawmakers on Capitol Hill also offered their support for Bannon's dismissal. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) said in an interview to CNN: ""In November, I warned against having Breitbart's Steve Bannon in the White House. I'm glad he's gone. But his removal doesn't change the President's outrageous moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and white supremacists and those who oppose them, and it doesn't diminish the need for Congress to take action."

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) said that "it's not enough to expel Bannon, the president must change course, apologize, and unequivocally condemn those spreading hatred and division." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) offered a similar conclusion by writing: "Glad to see Bannon gone; he never belonged in the White House. But the problem persists, since the most profound source of division cannot be fired."