Defending American Democracy

I am writing you, a friend of AJWS, at this unsettling moment in our lives, the history of the United States and the world. As members of the AJWS community, we have worked together for 35 years, as American Jews who are inspired by the eternal value of respecting the dignity of every person on Earth, to support democratic rights, free and fair elections and rule of law around the world.

Today, we face the unthinkable in our beloved democracy — an American president declaring victory before every vote in an American election is counted. Astonishingly, we now face the kind of challenge our grantee partners around the world have faced in their own countries. Yes, this is a remarkable and unwelcome turn of events.

While this threat to our democracy is real, so is our power to uphold the law. While today’s events give us many reasons to be fearful, they provide us reasons to dig deep in our reservoirs of strength for ourselves, each other, the United States and the people worldwide whose dignity and rights we strive to uphold.

Today, we are focused on a fight for democracy and rule of law, which is not only crucial to the United States and our work as an organization, but enables the U.S., when at its best, to serve as a beacon of hope to others around the world.

While this is an unnerving moment, we must be focused and patient, and we must demand that every vote be counted — that’s the democratic process we respect and love. After every vote is counted, we must insist that every leader and each party respect the outcome. When we have a full and fair result, we will join together to redouble our efforts to advance the dignity and rights of the communities we support worldwide in their fights for democratic rights.

In a closing reflection, I am aware that among our diverse community of supporters — Black, indigenous and people of color, including Jews of color — are feeling particularly threatened, and for good reason. We see and hear you and your concerns, and are fully committed to building a just, equitable and anti-racist America with true inclusion.

Robert Bank
Robert Bank is President and CEO of American Jewish World Service, the leading Jewish organization working to promote human rights in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.. Robert has spent his career championing human rights as an attorney, activist and leader. He joined AJWS as Executive Vice President in 2009 and previously served in New York’s municipal government and in the leadership of GMHC—one of the world’s leading organizations combatting HIV/AIDS. Robert has been honored with GMHC’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Partners in Justice Award from AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps.