Two recent articles from within the Jewish American community have challenged Jewish leaders to speak out against the continuation of the Iraq War. As Nathan Guttman pointed out last week, in spite of the fact that 77% of American Jews think the Iraq War was a mistake, “most Jewish organizations have refused to speak out against the war, and at times they displayed support for the administration.” As Rabbi Arthur Waskow writes in a current opinion piece, “What to do about the Iraq war has made for the sharpest and most important disconnect between the political behavior of large Jewish organizations and the opinions of the flesh-and-blood Jews who actually make up the American Jewish community.” In another op-ed, Rabbi David Saperstein put the challenge more bluntly in his title: “Time for Our Community To Join the Iraq Debate.”
A number of initiatives within the Jewish community are rising to that challenge. A group of Jewish leaders has launched an ad campaign in both Jewish and secular media outlets. See the ad below, and follow this link to the Shalom Center to find out more. And when the Union of Reform Judaism’s Executive Board meets next week, they will discuss how to best address the current situation in Iraq. Visit the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for more resources on how Jewish leaders are responding to the crisis in Iraq.
Focus on the Family President James Dobson paired his attack on National Association of Evangelicals VP Richard Cizik for speaking out about the need to fight global warming, with a reassertion for his desire to protect the poor from those who would seek to combat climate change.
Once again, pretty much the only time we hear about Dobson’s passion for protecting the poor is when he’s attacking other evangelicals on global warming.
Where was Dobson and his passion for helping the poor, for example, when he took issue with Christians for protesting federal budget cuts to programs for those most in need? From the Washington Post at the time:
“It’s not a question of the poor not being important or that meeting their needs is not important,” said Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, Dobson’s influential, Colorado-based Christian organization. “But whether or not a baby is killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, that is less important than help for the poor? We would respectfully disagree with that.”
“We ask,â€ Dobson and the other pro-family leaders wrote, “how is population control going to be achieve if not by promoting abortion, the distribution of condoms to the young, and, even by infanticide in China and elsewhere? Is this where Richard Cizik would lead us?â€
It’s no coincidence that this attack comes with the National Association of Evangelicals board about to meet in Minnesota. Here’s the money line from a letter signed by Dobson and allies:
“We implore the NAE board to ensure that Mr. Cizik faithfully represents the policies and commitments of the organization, including its defense of traditional values. If he cannot be trusted to articulate the views of American evangelicals on environmental issues, then we respectfully suggest that he be encouraged to resign his position with the NAE.â€
The work of evangelicals like Cizik is one of the most encouraging stories of faith in public life today. It’s crucial that the American public understands the kinds of internal pressures that leaders of principle like Cizik confront every day.