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Washington — Rep. Sandy Levin, the longest-serving Jewish member of Congress, on Thursday spearheaded a letter signed by Jewish members of Congress urging President Donald Trump to “stand with us on the right side of history” after Trump’s recent defense of white nationalist protesters.

Eighteen Democrats in the U.S. House signed onto the letter including Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, saying they were “deeply troubled” by Trump’s combative remarks at a Tuesday news conference where he blamed “both sides” for deadly violence at a neo-Nazi and white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

“Your statements show a deep misunderstanding of history and a fundamental lack of moral compass. As the leader of our nation, it is incumbent upon you to stand up to hate, not provide legitimacy to those who violently perpetrate it,” the letter reads.

The lawmakers denounced Trump’s comments for equating neo-Nazis wielding swastika flags and making anti-Semitic slurs with the counter-protestors who showed up to resist that message, and for describing some of the white nationalist demonstrators as “very fine people.”

Trump denied on Twitter on Thursday that he suggested a moral equivalency between the KKK and neo-Nazis, and Heather Heyer.

Heyer was killed and 19 other injured after a right-wing activist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters during Saturday’s demonstrations in Charlottesville. Two state troopers also were killed when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the protests against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

“Some of us are related to Holocaust survivors. All of us know them, and are privileged to represent them. They know how hateful, incendiary rhetoric leads to violence,” the lawmakers wrote.

“In the strongest possible terms, we urge you to consistently and unequivocally fight against racists and anti-Semites. Anything less is beneath the dignity of your office and the ideals of our great nation.”

The letter was signed by 18 of the 23 Jewish members of the House, including Levin: Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler of New York; Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Shultz and Ted Deutch of Florida; John Yarmuth of Kentucky; Jacky Rosen of Nevada; David Cicilline of Rhode Island; Bradley Schneider and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois; Alan Lowenthal, Susan Davis, Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman of California; Jamie Raskin of Maryland; and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.

mburke@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8736

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