Dr. Charles JacobsThe author is president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) office here in Boston must be pretty busy.
When a student from the Greater Boston area told her dad how she learned in her high school class that Jews in Israel torture and kill Arab women, the man met with school officials who, as he complained on that community’s cable TV station, dissed him. (See Tony’s story at www.opennewtonschools.org)
At least he got a meeting. The ADL didn’t even return his calls. Grassroots Jewish groups immediately formed and have been fighting very publicly for over a year to get the “lessons” about Jewish killers of Arab women out of that school system, yet Boston’s ADL hasn’t lent a hand or said a word. Not one word.
But the new regional chairman of Boston’s ADL did just write a column in The Boston Globe with a gay rights activist about hatred and violence toward LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) people.
So Rabbi Hillel’s wise questions – “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?” – resonate today: Jewish communal organizations face this issue on a daily basis: How should Jews balance self-preservation with concern for others?
The Globe article pointed out that hate crimes based on sexual orientation are on the rise – up almost 3 percent from previously reported FBI statistics. The public, it is suggested, should be jolted by this news.
Actually, the writers read the data wrong: According to the raw numbers, there’s been just a 1 percent increase in sexual orientation-based hate crimes in the time period they mention (1,277 vs. 1,293, respectively – do the math). One percent may be statistically insignificant. Long-term trends actually show that sexual orientation hate crimes are down 8 percent from their peak in 2001.
But still, even one hate crime against gays, or any group, is one hate crime too many, and there is no question that Jews should help other groups targeted by incitement and hatred. The only issues are proportion and priority. At a time when ADL in Boston is neglecting instances of anti-Semitism right here, Rabbi Hillel himself might urge us to wonder at the urgency with which ADL gives to a slight uptick in the LGBT problem.
This is especially true when New England remains one of the most progressive and gay-friendly places in the world – and when, in contrast, anti-Semitism here is on the rise.
Every summer, Boston’s South End is host to a vibrant gay-pride parade. But this past fall, two blocks from the parade route, hundreds of Northeastern University students for Justice for Palestine marched on the Israeli Consulate during Operation Pillar of Defense screaming anti-Semitic slogans at Jewish counterdemonstrators and calling for Israel’s destruction (there were also a number of other anti-Israel protests throughout the country at the time). Did I miss the ADL op-ed?
There is an even more serious – and revealing – problem with the ADL’s gay rights article: It is totally silent about the real and greatest danger gays face, which is not American fundamentalism as the ADL suggests, but fundamentalist Islam.
Throughout the Muslim world, gays are defamed by popular clerics who issue fatwas declaring that they should be killed, citing Islamic law. And they are killed: Rather than simply telling these truths, the ADL chose to reflect our politically correct and morally corrupt culture and attack our society’s imperfections while ignoring the truly hateful, actually murderous ideology that has penetrated the West.
Yes, it’s here in the West. A shocking video clip, released last week, shows a “Muslim patrol,” terrorizing a gay man – in London! See it by clicking here.
And right here in Boston, there may be a real and growing danger to gays. What should really be jolting us is not the questionable 1% rise in anti-gay activity, but Boston ADL’s continual refusal to say what it knows about significant threats to gays in its own hometown: that a founding member of the board of the largest mosque on the Eastern seaboard, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC), preaches that homosexuality must be treated as a crime and debates on the Web whether gays should be killed by throwing them off high walls or by burning them. See this here.
ADL probably also knows that the new Imam at the Boston mosque, Suhaib Webb, is a homophobe who thinks homosexuality is a satanic impulse, has taught that the Muslim prophet Muhammad cursed those men who imitate women and wear effeminate clothing, and is urging Boston Muslims to attack the idea of gay marriage more forcefully. Why in the world is Boston’s ADL not outing Imam Webb?
The answer is, sadly, that the ADL here – along with the rest of the Hub’s politically correct elite – typically gives Boston Muslims who preach hatred a free pass.
If the pastor of the largest church in Boston uttered anything close to such statements about homosexuality, the city would be up in arms – but our leaders bow to the dogma of political correctness. And so, last year, Mayor Menino opposed the opening in Boston of a Chick-fil-A restaurant because the restaurant’s CEO is against gay marriage.
Yet Menino openly endorses the ISBCC mosque and has never uttered a critical word about the anti-gay teachings there; and last year Northeastern’s administration denied Chick-fil-A space on campus – yet has frequently welcomed the gaybashing Imam Webb as a speaker. Only willful blindness, fear of being labeled “Islamophobic” or “right-wing,” or just plain fear can explain such transparent hypocrisies.
Moral narcissism, says Boston University professor Richard Landes, is the tendency to think about morality in terms of how your actions make you feel about yourself – rather than in terms of their consequences for others. Expressing indignation about the perceived mistreatment of others, while neglecting to defend your own people, may elevate one’s standing in our liberal society – yet it is only an exercise in moral preening.
ADL has permitted its mission to evolve – in an unbalanced way – beyond protecting the interests of the Jewish community to primarily promoting what today passes for “liberal” universalist values – at the expense of Jewish concerns – and in this case that of the gays as well. Educating homosexuals about the real threat to their lives would be the only honest way, following Rabbi Hillel, to be both for ourselves and not only for ourselves.
Reprinted from the Jewish Advocate with the author's permission.
(Arutz Sheva notes: Judaism unequivocally forbids homosexuality, but does not discriminate against the people involved.)