Rabbi Michael White and Rabbi Jerome Davidson
We write as rabbis devoted both to our faith community and to human rights for all peoples. We were disheartened to learn that the Great Neck Synagogue has invited Pamela Geller to speak on April 14. Geller has a long track record of hateful and virulently anti-Muslim views that seek to divide American Muslims and Jews, rather than unite them.
Both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have designated Geller’s “Stop Islamization of America” organization as a hate group. As was recently reported in the Jewish Week, Etzion Neuer, director of community service and policy for the ADL’s New York region, said that Geller “under the guise of fighting radical Islam, absolutely demonizes an entire religion. In directing her rhetoric at the entire Islamic faith, she fuels anti-Islamic bigotry. Geller doesn’t do us any favors,” he continued. “She muddies the waters because she hands the platform to the extremists in our midst. Instead of thoughtful, fact-based dialogue on the issues, we get incendiary rhetoric and xenophobia.”
We cherish our relationships and friendships within the local Muslim community. Both Temple Beth El of Great Neck and Temple Sinai of Roslyn share deep and abiding connections with the Islamic Center of Long Island. Our communities have broken bread together, studied together, engaged in social action projects together, and our children have learned from each other as well. The local Muslim community adds immeasurably to Long Island’s vitality, and we are blessed by their commitment to the betterment of our society. Their presence among us affirms the essence of America’s greatness, a nation founded on the principles of democratic pluralism.
We state unequivocally that Geller’s inflammatory rhetoric does not represent us or the great majority of Jews in Great Neck and on Long Island. Hate speech has no place in synagogues. Synagogues should be places for worship, positive dialogue and reasoned political debate. The right of free speech is vitally important, but Geller crosses the line from political to hate speech. In sharp contrast, Judaism teaches us to respect the traditions and values of other faiths.
— Pamela Geller (@Atlasshrugs) April 10, 2013