NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2011 -- Speaking on his Tuesday radio show, Fox News host Glenn Beck brought up the recent letter that more than 400 rabbis signed and placed as an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal criticizing him for repeatedly comparing his ideological foes to Nazis. He claimed that this letter, coordinated by Jewish Funds for Justice, was dominated by Reform rabbis, and dismissed the Movement as akin to "radicalized Islam." Reform rabbis, he said, "are generally political in nature. It's almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way." His comparison was "not about terror," he stressed, but "about politics, and so it becomes more about politics than it does about faith."
In response to these remarks, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism issued the following statement:
We are deeply distressed by Glenn Beck's profoundly offensive remarks about Reform Judaism and Reform rabbis. Beck's sweeping dismissal of the religious faith of a million and a half North American Jews was both tragic and outrageous.
Reform Judaism, a proud and venerable religious tradition, does not accept Mr. Beck as the arbiter of what is spiritual and what is not, of who has faith and who does not, of what constitutes real religion and what does not. We respect his faith and demand that he respect ours. Our members, who like others in North America apply their religious values to the problems of the broader society, are happy to have Mr. Beck disagree with us on any position that one or more of us may take, but not to make pronouncements and sweeping condemnations that he has neither the right nor the knowledge to make.
We are particularly incensed that Mr. Beck chose to compare Reform Judaism with "radicalized Islam." While noting that Reform Judaism is not about "terror," he implied the opposite or, at the very least, that the religious faith of the largest segment of North American Jewry is extremist and fanatic.
Mr. Beck's comments are offensive to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. Speaking in sweeping generalizations about other religious traditions is offensive. Imputing radicalism and fanaticism to large religious groups is offensive. Dismissing the heartfelt religious beliefs of millions of North Americans is offensive. Mr. Beck should be ashamed of his comments, and we hope that he will have the good sense never to repeat them.