NEW YORK (JTA) – The Reform Movement accepted Fox News host Glenn Beck’s apology for comparing Reform Judaism to radical Islam.
"The Reform Movement sincerely hopes this apology opens a new door of understanding and cooperation between us and helps to elevate the state of our political discourse," Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism wrote in a letter to Beck.
"In that spirit, I would welcome the opportunity to meet personally to introduce you more fully to the Reform Jewish Movement, to discuss the concerns about this incident and about the concerns that many of my colleagues (half of them Reform, half Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist) expressed in the open letter to you regarding the repeated references to the Holocaust and Nazis, so that you may better understand the pain and confusion that language evokes."
In an apology on his radio program Feb. 24, Beck said he had made "one of the worst analogies of all time" in saying on his radio show on Feb. 22 that, like Islamic extremists, Reform rabbis place politics ahead of religion. He delivered a special apology to Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, who was among the Jewish leaders who slammed Beck for his comments and demanded he apologize.
"To Abe and everybody else, if I offended you it was not my intent," Beck said, noting that he often disagreed with Foxman but in this case the ADL chief was correct. "I see how I did that and I apologize for the action and the words. Enough said."
The comments that got Beck in trouble came in the context of a wider discussion about a recent open letter, signed almost exclusively by non-Orthodox rabbis, criticizing him for repeatedly comparing his ideological foes to Nazis. “There are the Orthodox rabbis and there are the Reform rabbis,” Beck said. “Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like radicalized Islam in a way where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics."
Foxman welcomed the apology and issued a statement saying the matter had been put to rest.
Jewish Funds for Justice, a liberal group that has scuffled with Beck repeatedly — most recently by taking out full-page advertisements calling on Beck to be censured for his misuse of Nazi analogies — said the statement was "welcome but incomplete." The organization said Beck’s comments were of a piece with his longstanding hostility to toward religious groups that pursue a social justice agenda, calling it a "systemic" problem.
"We reiterate our call on [Fox News chief] Rupert Murdoch to end Mr. Beck’s tenure at Fox News and for Salem Communications to commit not to add his syndicated radio show to their New York stations," the group said in a statement. "Anything short of this reflects an unwillingness to take seriously the harm Mr. Beck causes to many in our community and beyond."