Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro is a Washington, D.C.-based multimedia journalist reporting on activism and conflict through photography, video, and social media. He is currently News Director at News2Share. His previous work can be found at POLITICODurango Herald, and the Atlantic Council.

"Cowardly normalization" - Jews march against Jewish group's Trump Hotel party

"We demand that the Conference of Presidents cancel its Hanukkah Party at the Trump Hotel, and we warmly invite Jews to march with us as we tell our out-of-touch establishment: NO MORE."

That was the message that Jewish anti-occupation group IfNotNow sought to deliver to the Jewish Presidents' Conference, an umbrella group vouching for 51 national Jewish organizations, opposing its plan for a Hanukkah celebration at Trump's DC hotel. 

"We will build this world with love," about 300 protesters chanted in both English and Hebrew, marching from Freedom Plaza down one side of Pennsylvania Avenue to the nearby Trump Hotel against what they deemed an act of "cowardly normalization" by the Jewish establishment.

The march comes as some  of Trump's prospective cabinet officials and top advisers face criticism for remarks seen as anti-semitic or embodying white nationalist ideals. Steve Bannon, Trump's soon-to-be chief strategist, spearheaded ultra-conservative outlet Breitbart's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and pro-Trump platform. He was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League last month. 

"I believe that Steve Bannon is a white nationalist, and it's very dangerous to have him in the White House," Rachel Goldstein, a grassroots organizer with IfNotNow, told us. "We believe there's no place for white supremacy in Judaism, it's corrosive to our Jewish values. That's why we're here today - we believe our message is one of Jewish values."

Off to the side, a far smaller group of about a dozen Trump-supporting counter-protesters sang "God bless America," holding identical signs reading "Jews choose Trump." A few ventured into the neighboring protest, where they argued with demonstrators about IfNotNow's opposition to Israel's stance on Palestine.

"If you don't like the expulsion of non-Jews from Israel, that's fine, don't celebrate Hanukkah," one of them told me - a young Trump supporter who would only identify himself to my colleague as "a northeastern Jew." 

"They [IfNotNow] are part of a disingenuous and slanderous attempt to defame and discredit Donald Trump as a racist and an anti-Semite that has no basis on reality," he added.

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