Glenn Beck of Fox News has stated that Reform rabbis are “almost like radicalized Islam.”
Beck made the statement on his radio show on Tuesday, February 22, as part of a broader conversation stemming from a letter, signed almost exclusively by non-Orthodox rabbis, criticizing Beck for comparing his ideological foes to the Nazis.
“There are the Orthodox rabbis and there are the Reform rabbis,” Beck said. “Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It's almost like radicalized Islam in a way where it is just - radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics.”
Reform Movement leaders were angered by the comparison.
“His description of the Reform movement ignores the fact that we're the largest segment of American Jewry,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, head of Reform Jewry’s Religious Action Centre, based in Washington.
“It has been over the last 30 years the fastest growing liberal theological denomination in America. And that is true because of the richness of the religious, spiritual and faith fulfillment it offers a very diverse constituency that defines our movement. For him to denigrate, not just all the Reform rabbis, Reform Judaism, but the million and half members of our synagogues is deeply distasteful and offensive.”
While this is the latest incident involving Beck and the Jewish community, it is by no means the only one. Beck has been criticized for comparing liberals to Hitler and the Nazis.
The radio and TV host issued an apology on Thursday, which was welcomed and accepted by the Reform Movement.
"I was wrong on this and I also apologize for it. In this case I didn’t do enough homework," Beck said in a statement on the air. He said his remark was "one of the worst analogies of all time."
In a letter sent to Beck on Thursday afternoon, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie wrote: "As I'm sure you'll agree, in a vibrant democracy such as ours, Americans must be able to have robust and healthy differences of opinion while respecting the humanity and patriotism of those with whom they disagree. All of us are fallible, and we say and do things we regret. We welcome your forthright recognition of your errors…
"The Reform Movement sincerely hopes this apology opens a new door of understanding and cooperation between us and helps to elevate the state of our political discourse."
Beck also sent a letter to the Anti-Defamation League, saying "I was admittedly misinformed on Reform rabbis, and made a horrible analogy that I immediately attempted to clarify – quite honestly, I blew it on this one."
ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman accepted the apology, saying that "Glenn Beck has shown that he understands how his remarks were offensive and out of line. We welcome his words of apology and consider the matter closed."
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life