Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Difference Between Reform Rabbis and Islamists

Thank you to Commentary Magazine for this! (Wow, I can't believe I just wrote that!).

The Difference Between Reform Rabbis and Islamists:

However much many liberal Jews have come to see their faith in terms that have tended to merge their political beliefs with their religious identity, Reform Judaism is a venerable religious movement above and beyond political activism that is due the same respect that any other denomination of one of our country’s great faiths deserves. Many of its rabbis are, and have been, political activists (including many who are ardent Zionists), but that does not justify putting their faith down as mere politics. To do so is to manifest the sort of disrespect for religion that is more usually associated with the left than the right.

Moreover, any comparison between Reform rabbis and the leaders of Islamism is as untrue as it is obnoxious. Reform’s beliefs are in no way the equivalent of a creed that seeks to destroy all non-Islamic governments and faiths as Islamists do. Nor need we point out that it is also true, as Beck helpfully noted in passing, that Reform rabbis are not the spiritual leaders of a movement that sponsors terrorism as a matter of principle.

While the signers of the one-sided anti-Beck ad opened themselves up to criticism for backing an obviously partisan argument, to put down an entire religious movement as mere politics, as if a vast association of synagogues, schools, camps, and charitable endeavors exists merely to take shots at Beck, is absurd. As with some of Beck’s other glib utterances that have gotten him into trouble, it’s clear that he’d be better off not talking about topics about which his knowledge is limited.

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