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Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

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"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jewish Week, Glenn Beck, and Censorship

I'm sickened by the utter hypocrisy and blatant censorship being practiced by The Jewish Week.

Not surprised, mind you. Just disgusted.

On Wednesday, February 23, Jonathan Mark, an associate editor at that paper, posted
an article discussing Glenn Beck's comparison of Radical Islamists and Reform Jews. It was cogent, well thought out, and expressed a position that made the left shriek in rage. The post was taken down. Google cached it, so it can still be seen, but apparently The Jewish Week is unwilling to allow this view to be expressed in its pages.

As a public service, because I don't know how long the Google cached version will last, I'm reproducing the article here. When I quote a person, it doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with them. But in this case, it absolutely does. And to be fair (and consistent), I'm reproducing the four comments on the article (all outraged) as well.

When Glenn Beck Compares Reform Judaism To Radical Islam, He's Unfair To Islam
Submitted by Jonathan Mark on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 13:01

When Glenn Beck says that Reform Judaism is like radical Islam, insofar as both are more about politics than faith, he's being unfair to radical Islam.

Yes, both are deeply involved with politics and confuse their own politics with God's.

But radical Islamists seems to be much more serious about their religion.

Reform rabbis often lead congregations whose overall culture is indifferent to Shabbat and kashrut, indifferent to daily prayer and intermarriage, and indifferent to religious literacy.

A radical Islamic leader, by contrast, is passionate and conscientious about prayer, the Islamic Sabbath, Halal food, and Islamic family purity. He would not be indifferent to intermarriage or classical Islamic teachings.

Only a Reform rabbi would officiate at an intermarriage on Shabbat itself, as did Rabbi James Ponet at Chelsea Clinton's wedding. A Radical Islamist wouldn't do that.

Not even the Ten Commandments are as important to a Reform rabbi as intermarriage. The integrity of Shabbat (Commandment Four) was considered so meaningless that the ceremony couldn't even wait until sunset. With a Reform rabbi, officiating for Clinton, a political figure, was more important than Shabbat, faith.

A radical Islamist would not have violated the Koran to perform an intermarriage for a king.

It's hard to imagine a Reform rabbi who didn't frequently take political positions. Among their political positions is that we shouldn't be Islamophobic; we should know that jihad is a spiritual struggle, not a violent one; that imams are moderates until proven otherwise, that we shouldn't tar Islam because of extremists who are violating Islam. So Reform rabbis themselves say Islam, even radical Islam (is there any other) is a religion of peace, a religion of faith.

It's had to imagine a Reform rabbi who isn't infatuated with the great Reform legends of fighting for Darfur, being part of the (imaginary) black-Jewish alliance, advocating for gay and transgender rights, hating Bush and Sarah Palin, cheering Obama's pressure on Israel, all of which these Reform rabbis will attribute to their faith but it sure sounds like politics.

Reform rabbis love "dialogue," the idea that all problems in the world -- between religions and between nations -- are just a big misunderstanding because we're all basically the same and want the same things.

Radical Islamists don't give a damn about dialogue. They don't think all religions or all people, infidels included, are the same, because radical Islamists take their own faith that much more seriously.

Reform rabbis are "troubled" that settlers live in Canaan, that Ariel Sharon walked on the Temple Mount, that Moses, a Jew, used disproportionate force in killing an Egyptian. Hebron is not loved for its holiness, as faith would have it, but thought an obstacle to peace, as politics would have it.

Radical Islamists have faith that the Temple Mount is theirs, and the Western Wall, too. They have faith that they are Abraham's children and belong anywhere in Canaan. Radical Islamists don't care that Moses, an Egyptian, killed an Egyptian. Hebron is loved for its holiness, as faith would have it, not something to be negotiated, as politics would have it.

Radical Islamic leaders don't go around saying that religion just means being ethical and good and voting for Democrats, the way most Reform rabbis do. Radical Islam believe that faith demands personal service to God, not just service to each other.

Radical Islamic leaders don't define their faith so singularly with one political party, as do most Reform rabbis, who seem to believe that Judaism never, ever, says no to liberal dogma. Their Reform Jewish faith, to hear so many tell it. is indistinguishable from their Reform Jewish poliitics. To many Reform leaders, the left can disagree with the Torah but the Torah can never disagree with the left. When in conflict, the Torah must adapt.

To a radical Islamist, whose faith comes before politics, the Koran doesn't adapt, everything adapts to the Koran.

Radical Islamists seem to have more fire in the belly when it comes to their faith.

Reform rabbis seem to have more fire in the belly when it comes to their "progressive" politics.

So Beck is absolutely wrong. Radical Islamists and Reform rabbis are polar opposites when it comes to balancing faith and politics.

There are many Reform Jews that I love and greatly admire. These are my people. I'd rather be the worst Reform Jew than the very best Islamist. And I wish that Reform rabbis were, in fact, more about faith than about politics.

Dennis Prager, the talk-show host and author, is a Reform Jew who actually talks more about the importance of faith and religion than he talks about politics. Debbie Friedman, another great Reform Jew, was unique in how she restored the idea of blessing and God to the Reform sensibility. There are other Reform Jews like Prager and Friedman who prioritize faith over politics, but I don't get that sense from too many Reform rabbis.

I despise, fear and fight radical Islamic politics but I love and envy their devotion to their faith. I love how even in the midst of the Cairo revolution, they stopped to prostrate themselves in prayer. When was the last time you saw Reform Jews at a political demonstration stop to say Mincha? And by the hundreds?

Here's some more on Beck, on related issues, from the Zionist Organization of America, from BigJournalism.com regarding the Jewish Fund For Justice's anti-Beck campaign, and from David Suissa, an exciting columnist for the Jewish Journal in L.A.

How many people who have opinions on Beck have actually seen him in action? Check out this clip of Beck speaking about Israel, threats to Jews, and attacking Iran.

Beck's a better man than George Soros, and he's a better Jew, too. If something bad, God forbid, ever happened to Israel, I'm convinced it would bother Beck more. One guy cares about me and the two countries I love. One guy doesn't.

I don't like it when someone who cares about us so much is hated, is laughed at, because his caring is imperfect.

Submitted by Chris Aguero (not verified) on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 15:18.
What a shame to speak of Jews this way!! This is baseless insensitivity that reflects a real ignorance of the contribution of Reform Jews to diverse the American Jewish fabric. While Shabbat, kashrut, and daavening are fundamental to some Jews, what good are these practices, if your actions are as despicable as the words here?

Let's face it: some of us live Jewishly in this way, and many more live Jewishly without a traditional observance of Shabbat and the holiday. If that upsets you, fine, but it is wrong to compare these Jews to radical Muslims.

The content of this piece is so absurd that it doesn't help to address them. Such rhetoric is inappropriate and a real shame.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 16:52.
Though I don't agree with everything that i said in this column. I agree with the basic theme. I am Jewish, I am not an orthodox Jew, not do I consider myself a Reform Jew. I am somewhere in the middle. I agree with the premise that American Jews who are overwhelmingly Reform, tend to wear the Judaism as a token part of who they are. I feel that there is very little Jewish pride in America these days. Jew tend to be committed liberals before being committed Jews. To me being Jewish is more than just practicing a religion, it is being part of a people. The way that this administration is turning its back on Israel is pathetic, and scary. I have been listening to Glenn Beck for 10 a long time, an one thing I can say is that he is not anti-Semetic. It's funny how some in the Jewish community in this country get so offended when something is said that they may not agree with, but are not offended at how this country is aiding in the Islamic Fundamentalists goal to destroy Israel.

Submitted by Alex Kress (not verified) on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 17:28.
The purpose of religion, as I was recently enlightened by a Modern Orthodox Jew, is to see the divine in everyone. This piece, and Glen Beck's ignorant comparison of "Reformed Rabbis" to Radical Islam, seek to do the opposite.

You go on for paragraph after paragraph bashing Reform practices and then conclude by saying there are Reform Jews you love and greatly admire? I hope they do not say the same about you and your ignorant (and unedited) blog that is hurtful to those very people.

What exactly makes your practices any better or worse from my Reform practices? What makes your practices better than a Muslim's or Christian's or Buddhist's practices? Nothing. My faith and my religion is for me, to fulfill my needs and guide my life. Your religion is for you, not for me to judge or dissect, but to fulfill your religious needs in your life.

Very seldom am I disgusted and embarrassed to read work by fellow American Jews, differing in my opinion or not. This, however, is hateful rhetoric and you should be ashamed of your elitist hubris.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 18:04.
Lucky for me i'm not Radical Islam, what you just described is ignorance against being human. I'm glad i'm not on your side.


Blogger Dana Friedman said...

Well, I agree with you. Many subsets of less-observant Jews are more concerned about "Jewish culture" than about Judaism. What good is that going to do anybody? You can't keep alive a culture that's an outgrowth of the religion without preserving the religion across generations. DUH!

The Reform couldn't care less about that. I don't know much about Islam, but I'll bet their equivalent to the Reform movement isn't very big compared to their mainsteam.

10:52 PM  

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