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A Curious Alliance

Are some conservatives willing to sleep with the devil in order to fight pro-gay legislation? An exclusive report by Evan Gahr on  www.JewishWorldReview.com makes the charge that “prominent religious conservatives – Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians – are allied with a radical Islamic group to stop gay marriage.”

Working for a constitutional amendment that would restrict marriage to heterosexuals, these religious conservatives have aligned themselves, under the organizational umbrella of the Alliance For Marriage (AFM), with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) – a group, says terrorism expert Steve Emerson, that has held fund-raising events for terrorists, condemned the Bush administration’s seizure of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad assets in the U.S., and sponsored speakers at its conferences who defend Islamic terrorists.

“ISNA,” says Emerson, “is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation.”

According to Gahr, the Jewish religious leaders whose prestige-by-association helps ISNA maintain that false veneer include Rabbi Barry Freundel, a vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America also known as “Lieberman’s rabbi” because Sen. Joseph Lieberman is one of his congregants; Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, an executive at the kosher supervision agency run by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU); Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who strives to unite Christians and Jews under a banner of traditional morality; and Marc Gellman, one of Reform Judaism’s most highly visible clergymen.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told Gahr that “people have to be careful with whom they associate, even with causes unrelated to the Middle East. Such associations give credence to groups that don’t deserve it.”

Conservative newspaper columnist and talk-show host Don Feder minced no words: “You have to be crazy,” he said, “to work with these people.”

Most of the figures named in Gahr’s piece either refused to comment or, writes Gahr, “hardly seemed perturbed when provided … with detailed information – from impeccable sources – about ISNA.”

Schonfeld of the OU did tell Gahr that before he joined AFM he was “assured” that there weren’t any groups sympathetic to Islamic terrorists on its advisory board. But get this “Schonfeld, according to Gahr, requested more information about INSA but “conceded that even if the group is hostile to Israel and sympathetic to terrorists, “I can’t tell you I would resign.””

Jewish World Review Editor-in-Chief Binyamin Jolkovsky told the Monitor that Gahr’s piece has drawn an unprece dented response – not all of it complimentary. As of Monday this week, he said, “close to 300 people have unsubscribed because they felt we were attacking fellow conservatives.”

Jolkovsky says the issue is far too important for him to have taken the easy way out, even if it meant losing subscribers and alienating influential conservatives. And make no mistake – many conservatives are quite unhappy with the outspoken Jolkovsky for publicizing what most people would deem an unsavory, even dangerous, alliance. One conservative activist actually asked him, “Do you know how hard it is to find a Muslim organization that’s not on the justice Department’s watch list? Here we found one – and you’re going to tear it down?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of religious conservatives whose priorities are in the right place. One such conservative is Paul Weyrich, who heads the Free Congress Foundation. Weyrich told Gahr that he was asked to serve on AFM’s advisory board but decided against it “because of its connection to groups like ISNA.”

Weyrich added, “I have no problem working with Arabs to preserve traditional marriage but the price is too high when I am asked to work with Islamists.”

Note to Readers: Dec. 15 is the deadline for submit ting the names of your favorite websites to the Monitor. Our updated “Favorite Websites” list will appear later in the month.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.

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