Glenn Beck apologizes for comparing Reform Judaism to Islamic extremism
The Fox News commentator says the remark was 'stupid' and he 'didn't do enough homework' on the topic; comments drew widespread criticism from Jewish leaders.
Fox news commentator Glenn Beck apologized on Thursday for comments that he made about the Reform movement of Judaism, which drew widespread criticism among American Jewish leaders.
On his February 22 radio show, Beck compared Reform Judaism to "radical Islam," saying that both were more about 'politics' - changing what is outside of oneself - rather than about 'religion' - changing what is inside of oneself.
Beck began his Thursday radio show by saying, "I made a mistake on Tuesday and I want to make sure you understand I was wrong on it and I apologize on it."
Referring to the comments, Beck said "someone called me 'ignorant' for it and it’s a good description of what I said. I started comparing Judaism to Islamic extremism and it was stupid." He added that he "didn't do enough homework" on the topic.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, sent Friday a letter to Glenn Beck following his apology, in which he said that "The Reform Movement welcomes and accepts your apology regarding your comparison of our Movement to radical Islam. 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 Jewish Funds for Justice responded to Beck's apology by saying it was "welcome but incomplete," and they called on Rupert Murdoch to end Beck's tenure at Fox News.
Jewish leaders from the Reform movement and beyond slammed Beck for his comparison.
“These comments are deeply offensive, completely absurd”, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism told Haaretz. “Reform Judaism is the largest segment of the U.S. Jewish community… to reduce it to [its] social justice agenda is just incorrect."
This latest incident is not the first time that the talk show host has caused controversy among the Jewish community.
Last month, 400 rabbis, many of whom are affiliated with the Reform movement, paid for a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, decrying what they called Beck making inappropriate references to the Nazi Holocaust.
The rabbis wrote that Beck made "literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom he disagrees." He also compares American leaders he does not like to Nazis, and has said that putting the "common good" first leads to Nazi-like "death camps."
"But you diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only 'left-wing rabbis' who think so."