(JTA) – Three Jewish groups expressed outrage and concern about Donald Trump’s claim that he would create a database to track all American Muslims if he were elected U.S. president.
“Donald Trump’s suggestion that we use a database to track Muslims is deeply troubling and reminiscent of darker days in American history when others were singled out for scapegoating,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Friday.
“Such a proposal is not only inimical to our cherished civil liberties, but it also wildly misses the goal of finding a rational balance between civil liberties and the security measures necessary to protect those liberties.”
David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, called the proposal “morally repugnant, not to mention unconstitutional.”
“What Mr. Trump proposes, in this case targeting all Muslims, is a horror movie that we Jews are quite familiar with,” he said.
Bend the Arc, a liberal Jewish advocacy group, set up an online petition guised as a mock registry of American Jews.
“Dear Donald Trump,” it begins. “When we say ‘never again’ it’s not just about Jews, it’s about everyone.”
During a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa, Friday morning, the Republican presidential candidate told NBC News that he was for implementing a system that would require all American Muslims to register in a database to help prevent terrorism.
“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” he said when asked about the idea. “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases.”
Asked if there was a difference between his idea and the Nazi practice of making Jews register their religious identity in Germany during World War II, Trump repeatedly said, “You tell me.”
The ADL also criticized Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for recently proposing that the U.S. only take in Christian refugees, and Ben Carson for recently comparing Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs.”
“It is also regrettable that some prominent candidates, including Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, have also made remarks crossing the line into scapegoating Syrian refugees,” the ADL statement read. “[T]hey are playing to our basest instincts.”
Separately, the ADL decried an increase in anti-Muslim attacks and rhetoric since the mass shootings in Paris on Nov. 13.
It noted at least 12 instances of threats against Muslims, including shots fired at a Muslim family’s home in Florida and at a mosque in Connecticut. Also noted were incidents of threats and vandalism.
“We have witnessed attacks on Islamic facilities in several states and from some political leaders we have heard statements brimming with xenophobia and appeals to fear,” the statement said.