Freedom Writer - November 1994
Ultraconservative Jews pose threat
By Barbara A. Simon, Esq.
The Christian Coalition's fourth annual Road to Victory conference
featured five ultraconservative Jewish speakers. Their presence attempted
to lend an air of inclusiveness to this political rally. This is consistent
with last year's Road To Victory theme of "casting a wider net," taken
from what is reputed to have been Jesus' commandment to be "fishers
The viewpoints of the five Jewish presenters were virtually indistinguishable
from their Christian counterparts. The wholeheartedness with which
the speakers embraced the agenda of the Christian Coalition was most
disturbing. The Jewish speakers were:
Don Feder, a columnist and editorial writer for the Boston Herald,
and formerly executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation.
Beth Elena Gilinsky, founder of the New York City-based Jewish Action
Alliance, which purports to be a grassroots organization dedicated
to the protection of civil and human rights of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Toward Tradition, which was "formed
to inject Judeo-Christian based conservatism into our culture," a
senior fellow at California's Claremont Institute, founding rabbi
of the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice, California, and is on the
board of fellows of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, DC.
Michael Medved, film critic and co-host of "Sneak Previews," film
critic for the New York Post, and Hollywood correspondent for the
Sunday Times of London.
Marshall Wittman, trained as a social worker, formerly with the Bush
administration, has served as the Washington, DC-based director of
legislative affairs for the Christian Coalition since February 1993.
Of the five speakers, only Gilinsky and Medved expressed some reservation
about the entire agenda of the Christian Coalition, but both enthusiastically
supported its conservative goals.
Medved began his presentation by asking, "What's a nice Jewish boy
like me doing in a place like this?" Medved informed us that he is
an observant Jew, president of Rabbi Lapin's synagogue, and author
of Hollywood vs. America, in which he addressed the "assault by the
popular cultural on some of the fundamental values that most Americans
hold dear." After acknowledging that he did not support every single
item on the agenda of the Christian Coalition, he stated:
"But the fact is we share basic values and those values are far more
important than any disagreements. And aside from everything that
we share, I recognize that you have been under attack and I believe
that the nature of that attack has been unfair, illegitimate, and,
in fact, despicable. There has been a concentrated and concerted effort
to try to isolate a major group of Americans based upon their religious
beliefs. And I'm here to let you know that there are thousands of
Jewish people who aren't going to stand for that; who aren't going
to let you be isolated, or marginalized, or trivialized because on
this issue, we stand with you."
He continued by stating that what is happening to the Christian Right
is reminiscent " ... to Jewish ears, there is an eerily familiar ring
to some of the criticism, some of the attacks, some of the libels
that have been leveled at the Christian Coalition and other conservative
Christians across this country. When people start talking about a
religious conspiracy, when they start talking about secret agendas,
or holy fanatics who will stop at nothing, spreading their sneaky
tentacles into various organizations, trying to dominate the whole
society, you know what, you can take the words Christian Right and
take them out and put in words like 'international Jewry' or 'Jewish
conspiracy,' and you've got the same kind of lies that anti-Semites
were using 50 years ago and 100 years ago and 200 years ago. And that
kind of paranoia, that kind of scapegoating, that kind of bigotry
was wrong then, and its wrong today."
It is apparent that Michael Medved is unfamiliar with the Christian
Right's proliferation of speakers, books, videos and literature promoting
anti-Semitism and those same old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Rabbi Lapin's topic was "Jews and Christians in Unity." After enumerating
all of the reasons that he believed "we" are on the Road to Victory,
he stated, "And I stand before you in this solemn moment in our history
and I recall another time that Jew and non-Jew stood together -- Naomi
the great-grandmother of King David bids farewell to her daughter-in-law
Ruth and Ruth refuses to abandon her Jewish mother-in-law, and ladies
and gentlemen, in your welcome to me this morning, I hear Ruth's unforgettable
prose: 'Do not force me to leave you, for where you go, I will go
[thunderous applause], where you lodge, I shall lodge, thy people
shall be my people, and thy God, my God even unto death do us apart
[applause].' Yes my friends, where you go, I will go. We shall not
flinch until the smear of aggressive secularism has been wiped from
our free land. We shall not flinch until in His good time God grants
us joyous serenity. Until then my friends, we have to gain victory.
That is our task."
In Don Feder's "Who's Afraid of Religious Conservatives?," he referred
to the "mythical" wall of separation of church and state. Feder, like
conference participants David Barton of WallBuilders, Reverend Peter
Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries, and America's God and Country,
believe that our Constitution has no provision for the separation
of church and state. Because they are literalists, treating every
word in the Bible as the inerrant word of God, they treat the Constitution
similarly, albeit with much less respect. Unless the language exists
in the body of our sparsely worded Constitution, these people do not
believe that such rights exist under our Constitution. For the most
part, they ignore the legitimacy of U.S. Supreme Court rulings over
the past 200 years, as they fail to see our Constitution as a living
document, continually being modified by the High Court's rulings.
If we asked these people if they believed the U.S. Constitution embraced
the principles of "right to a fair trial," "the separation of powers,"
or "religious liberty," instead of the "separation of church and
state," they might come to a different conclusion. None of those important
constitutional principles can be found in the literal words of the
The Friday afternoon breakout session titled, "Jewish-Christian Cooperation"
proved to be even more interesting than the morning general assembly
sessions. Marshall Wittman served as the moderator, with Rabbi Daniel
Lapin and Beth Gilinsky presenting.
Marshall Wittman's opening remarks consisted of an attack of the recently
published Anti Defamation League (ADL) report, _The_Religious_Right:_
The_Assault_on_Tolerance_and_Pluralism_in_America_. Wittman termed
the ADL report "scurrilous" and attacked the groups mentioned on the
acknowledgments page. (The Institute for First Amendment Studies,
Inc. is the first group listed on that page.) In a heated tone, Wittman
continued to say that "what is most scurrilous is that the ADL is
using its good name to attack American Jews' best allies -- the Christian
Rabbi Lapin followed Wittman and posed the question: "What do Jews
want?" He answered by saying Jews want three things: one, kosher food;
two, prayer; and three, circumcision. In his answers he attempted
to show that it is not the Christian Right which poses a threat to
Jews, but the liberal left. Lapin said it is the animal rights activists
who pose a threat to kosher food supplies, and stated that Jews in
Sweden have to have their kosher food imported, because the animal
rights lobbies in Sweden have succeeded in preventing the kosher slaughter
of animals in Sweden.
In discussing prayer, Lapin told us about a debate he had with Reuben
Greenberg, Charleston, South Carolina's chief of police. In that debate,
one of the members of the audience asked him if he understood the
dangers of state sponsored prayer in public schools. Lapin countered
with lets change the prayer from "In Jesus' name" to "God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob," which Lapin felt would be more inclusive. The questioner
was not satisfied with Lapin's solution. Lapin stated that non-observant
(in the Orthodox sense) Jews are not really Jews, stating: "Their
religion is not Judaism -- it is liberalism, and like any faith, they
resist all logical arguments." Is Lapin admitting that he, being a
man of faith, resists all logical arguments?
In showing that the Jewish tradition of circumcision is threatened
by the left, he pointed to Marion Wright Edelman and Hillary Clinton
who are active with the Children's Defense Fund (CDF). Lapin asserted
that the CDF is working toward preventing circumcision by requiring
an informed consent form, by the child, once he has reached the age
Lapin reiterated that the liberal left is responsible for our nation's
ills, not the Religious Right. In perhaps the most astounding assertion
of the afternoon, Lapin asserted that taxes are unbiblical. Taxes
make people a slave of the state. Once the state takes over the role
of "father," real fathers disappear and families are destroyed. Lapin
reminded his predominantly Christian audience that in the Prophets
of the Jewish Bible, the prophet Samuel, through God, warned the Jews
of the pitfalls of having a king, but the Jewish people wanted one,
nonetheless. Among the pitfalls was that the king might tax as much
as 10 percent of the grain and vintage, and 10 percent of livestock.
Lapin asserts that many Americans are paying up to 50 percent of their
income to the government, which in essence creates a form of slavery.
Individuals are forced to work up to six months each year for the
state. (Although concerned about financial slavery, Lapin does not
consider forcing a woman to bear an unwanted child to be a form of
Lapin is in step with the Religious Right's agenda to "save America."
"We are the best hope, perhaps the only hope," he said. "I believe
with all my heart that our army is on the road to victory. The battle
is the Lord's!"
By joining forces with the Christian Coalition, the Jewish Right has
provided the Christian Coalition with an excellent propaganda tool
-- the illusion that the Coalition is indeed "casting a wider net."
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