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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Toward Tradition’

Toward Tradition’s Dangerous Blind Spot

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

They say if you live long enough you’ll see everything, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need the smelling salts this week. Sit, don’t stand, because the Monitor is compelled to defend the Anti-Defamation League and its national director, Abraham Foxman, against some outrageous statements made by Toward Tradition and its president, Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Most readers who choose to put up with the Monitor on a regular basis probably know that in the past this column has been less than kind to Mr. Foxman and wholly laudatory of Rabbi Lapin. Foxman’s posturing as Supreme Arbiter of what does and doesn’t constitute anti-Semitism is off-putting, to say the least, while Toward Tradition has offered a refreshing and much needed alternative to the reflexive liberalism espoused by the secular American Jewish establishment.

To its credit, Toward Tradition has been steadfast in defending Christian conservatives from the often injudicious and blanket indictments of their movement delivered by Jewish spokesmen the likes of Foxman, who on any given day tend to confuse the revelation at Sinai with that morning’s New York Times editorials. But in its zeal to protect conservative Christians when they come under undeserved attack from liberal Jews, Toward Tradition has increasingly displayed a troubling tendency to pooh-pooh the inexcusable when it emanates from conservative Christian sources..

The latest such case was the flap over Billy Graham’s unambiguously anti-Semitic remarks in a 1972 White House discussion with Richard Nixon, details of which were first made public two weeks ago (and discussed in last week’s Monitor). The ADL and Foxman, along with a number of other Jewish organizations, rightly denounced Graham’s comments. Lapin and Toward Tradition, on the other hand, denounced Foxman for denouncing Graham.

In a press release issued last week, Toward Tradition declared that it was calling “on the Anti-Defamation League to stop defaming the Rev. Billy Graham.” The ADL’s Foxman, the statement went on to say, had “assailed Graham as a purveyor of ‘age-old classical anti-Semitic canards,’ referring to secretly tape-recorded remarks Rev. Graham made to President Nixon 30 years ago. The ‘canard’ in question is that Jewish people are disproportionately represented among Hollywood and other media power brokers. Graham spoke to Nixon of a Jewish ?stranglehold’ on the American media.”

Next followed a lengthy quote from Rabbi Lapin, who lamented what he called “the unfairness of this ADL attack” on Graham. Lapin tried to justify that characterization by citing recent charges that the producer of a critically acclaimed film, mindful of Hollywood’s influential Jewish community and wary of blowing his chances for an Academy Award, “deliberately left out” of his movie any mention of its protagonist’s anti-Semitism.

To Lapin, such a decision was wholly understandable: “Given that the Hollywood establishment indeed includes a considerably greater proportion of people of Jewish ancestry than does the American populace as a whole,” said Lapin, “[the producer] was concerned that the Academy would justifiably spurn a film that lionized an anti-Semite. To call that a ‘stranglehold’ may not be polite, but it is no lie, either.”

Lapin then wondered “why it is acceptable” for the film’s producer “to acknowledge this reality, however implicitly; but when Billy Graham did so, long ago and in private, it was somehow different – ‘chilling and frightening,’ in Mr. Foxman’s words.”

What the Monitor finds chilling and frightening is Lapin’s seeming inability to distinguish between a film producer’s decision to sanitize his story – even if the decision was based on self-interest rooted in the recognition that Jews play an important role in his industry – and the revelation that America’s best-known and most respected preacher was capable of engaging in the most hateful of anti-Semitic diatribes behind the closed doors of the Oval Office.

And lest anyone think Toward Tradition was satisfied with merely defending Graham, a revised press release issued a few days after the first actually called on the ADL “to apologize for defaming the Rev. Billy Graham.”

Good work, Abe Foxman. For shame, Daniel Lapin.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com  

American Jewry’s New Religion

Wednesday, June 27th, 2001
Rabbi Daniel Lapin has this rather refreshing habit of going against the Jewish establishment’s liberal grain. He’s also quite obviously unafraid of taking on even the most cherished folkways of American Jewry, perhaps most notably its obsession with the Holocaust – an obsession he views as nothing less than detrimental to the spiritual health of the community.The president of Toward Tradition, a politically conservative organization dedicated to fighting the corrosive effects of secularism in American society, Rabbi Lapin has long decried the iconic status the Holocaust has assumed among Jews, inevitably as a secular substitute for vibrant religious observance.

‘It’s interesting to reflect,’ he observed last month, ‘that we Jews are, after all, inheritors of a religion that instructs us to ‘choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). ‘Yet our community leaders are constantly choosing to assail us with images of death, as if Judaism were some weird death cult. And they charge us for it!

‘I wish the Holocaust was remembered as it should be, on Tisha b’Av. Then all that money could be spent on something genuinely life-promoting, like teaching young Jews about Judaism.’

It should come as no surprise that Rabbi Lapin exhibits little enthusiasm for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. In fact, Toward Tradition has called for ‘a complete defunding’ of the institution by the Federal government, which currently foots 60 percent of the museum’s budget.

In a press release issued last February, Rabbi Lapin’s organization noted that ‘In just the past four years, the museum has come under fire for showing visitors a film that blames Nazism on Christianity – a libelous distortion; seeking to appoint as director of its Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies a scholar who had compared the election of President Reagan to the rise of Nazism; celebrating a book that charged Israel with ‘ethnic cleansing’; and sponsoring a panel that accused the CIA of ‘genocide.’ ‘
As for the museum’s most recent embarrassment, the press release took note of the fact that the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Rabbi Irving ‘Yitz’ Greenberg, had written a letter to then-President Clinton – on museum stationery – in which Greenberg declared that to allow the fugitive Marc Rich to return to the U.S. free from fear of prosecution would be ‘one of the most G-dlike actions that anyone could ever do.’As the statement wryly pointed out, ‘The G-dlike President Clinton accepted this advice (along with generous contributions from the ex-wife of Mr. Rich).’ The statement also made mention of published reports that ‘a philanthropic interest linked with Rabbi Greenberg had received from Mr. Rich some $5 million.’

The press release concluded with a statement from Rabbi Lapin: ‘As time goes by, it becomes increasingly hard to see how one might explain to, let us say, a wheat farmer in Iowa why his tax dollars should go to support such an institution. Nor is it as if the United States had anything whatever to do with the Holocaust, a fact that made the museum a questionable object of federal largesse to begin with.’

In a timely piece appearing this week on NationalReviewOnline, Rabbi Lapin gives a broader context to his dismay with how the cult of the Holocaust has displaced Judaism in American Jewish life, comparing the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day with that of Shavuot.

‘In the former case,’ he writes, ‘enthusiastic Jews young and old crowded synagogues, temples, and Jewish Community Centers around the country….Community leaders of every denomination warned us not to forget our history.

‘And yet, just a few weeks later, on Shavuot, the day commemorating the giving of the Torah, when the people of Israel became a nation, most Jews [preferred] to forget history. Year after year, in spite of its centrality to all of Jewish existence…Shavuot is trumped by Holocaust Remembrance Day.’

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/american-jewrys-new-religion/2001/06/27/

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