Glenn Beck: Reform rabbis and “radicalized Islam”

The Reform movement is less than pleased – okay, they’re really outraged – that Glenn Beck, who has been waging a campaign against religious groups that dare talk about “social justice,” thinks their rabbis are sort of like radical shieks.

Media Matters, a liberal advocacy group that has pretty much been on an anti-Beck tear lately, distributed a recording and transcripts of today’s show in which Beck was talking about financier George Soros’ recent interview with journalist Fareed Zakaria.

Beck then got onto the subject of the 400 rabbis who signed a letter protesting Beck’s use of Holocaust analogies – a group his co-host said that “Soros funds.” (He also noted that Soros, in that interview, used his own Nazi analogy in reference to Beck).

Then Beck explained about Reform rabbis.

“When you talk about rabbis, understand that most — most people who are not Jewish don’t understand that there are the Orthodox rabbis, and then there are the reformed rabbis. Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

He then added: it’s not about terror or anything else, it’s about politics, and so it becomes more about politics than it does about faith. Orthodox rabbis — that is about faith. There’s not a single Orthodox rabbi on this list. This is all reformed rabbis that were — that made this list.”

Both Media Matters and the Reform movement say the letter was signed by rabbis from the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform movements

Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said Beck’s latest comments “were of a piece with his criticism last year of churches for their social justice ministries. It takes a special kind of audacity to proclaim oneself the arbiter of what is religious belief and what is not, what is inspired by faith and what is not.”

Although Beck took care not to suggest Reform rabbis aren’t terrorists, “the fact that he chose this language -‘radical Islam’ – is astonishing,” Pelavin said.

And he noted that “Beck is lashing out at the biggest part of the American Jewish community, not some group on the margins, that he thinks isn’t really about religion.”

Update: A reader was quick to send me the link to this thoughtful response from Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz. Thanks!

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.