Attack dogs
Esther Kaplan printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 10:21:33 PM EST

Okay, it was probably inevitable that Don Feder would lead the attack against ADL chief Abe Foxman for his strong talk earlier this month condemning the most extreme aspects of the Christian right agenda. Feder is one of a small but highly visible breed of religious Jews who have made a career out of giving the Christian right an interfaith veneer. He's a regular at gatherings of evangelical conservatives, such as the annual conferences of Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council, and a frequent talking head on the Christian right media, from the 700 Club to James Dobson's broadcasts.
After Foxman's remarks, Feder not only held a press conference with Bill Donahue, president of the ultraconservative Catholic League (Donahue called Foxman's speech a "morally reprehensible" attempt to "demonize Christians," while Feder went further below the belt, denouncing Foxman as "hysterical" and "paranoid"), but he wrote a syndicated column, picked up by many Christian publications, in which he spoke glowingly of Christian right efforts to post the Ten Commandments in public buildings and ban same-sex marriage. Just for good measure, Feder trashed Foxman as a "poster boy for militant secularism" who opposes "Judeo-Christian values."

Feder is not alone. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, another friend of the Christian right, piled on. Lapin runs a small group called Toward Tradition that is, along with the Republican Jewish Coalition, one of a tiny roster of Jewish groups that have gained entrée to the Christian right inner circle. "His specialty," writes Hanna Rosin in the Washington Post, "is finding support in the Torah for what turns out to be the current Republican platform: lower taxes, decreased regulation, pro-traditional family policies." In the Feder vein, Lapin announced that Foxman's "intemperate denunciations...threaten to destroy friendships between Jews and Christians."

Conservative Jewish columnist Dennis Prager frequently plays defense for the Christian right, too; though he hasn't gone after Foxman this time around, he did write a column recently in which he defended James Dobson for evoking Nazi medical experiments to explain his moral objections to embryonic stem cell research--and attacked Foxman for daring to criticize Dobson for making light of Holocaust atrocities.

But Feder's strategy is particularly destructive: he tars anyone who has political disagreements with the Christian right as a hater. Last April, he even founded a new organization, Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, whose mission statement asserts that "attacks on Christians are motivated by hatred for the values they espouse." At a press conference announcing the organization's launch, Feder said that when senators oppose a judicial nominee committed to overturning Roe v. Wade it's tantamount to calling for the complete disenfranchisement of all believers. Feder's goal is to shut down vital political debate by demonizing anyone who opposes the Christian right agenda as a religious bigot.

Let's face it: the Christian right is a political movement now, not just a religious one. They run state Republican Party committees, they run candidates for office, they put initiatives on state ballots, they lobby, they campaign. It's fair game to criticize their political agenda.

about this identical topic.  This turned up on my radar about a month ago through an interfaith listserv I've been involved in for years.  The response to Foxman's article on Front Page that I'm familiar with is Rabbi Lapin's.  Here is the link. You might want to read through Lapin's online periodical, Toward Tradition.  We need to deal with this unholy mix right now.  Pipes, Horowitz, and their ilk have been around for a long time but the attack through grassroots groups is beginning to show up more consistantly.

by tikkun on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:01:46 PM EST
I didn't catch the link in the article to Lapin's organization.  Sorry.  Looks like we're reading the same stuff.

by tikkun on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:07:31 PM EST

Sadly, post-announcement by the ADL that they are taking a stand against dominionism, there are now multiple groups (including, sadly, some Jewish groups that are friendly to dominionist organisations--often not realising that many of those same groups have conversion of Jews to "kosher pentecostals" as part of their reason for support, as well as the specific role of Israel in their end-times eschatology) that are "dead-agenting"--performing character assassination on--the ADL:,2933,140545,00.html (and specifically tells of its dominionist intent)

(ALL of these on the "ADL is trying to destroy Christmas" myth) (on Alliance Defense Fund dead-agenting)

There is also a lot of dead-agenting going on by dominionists claiming the ADL has an "anti-Christian agenda": (article by David Brog, assistant to Sen Arlen Specter (R), also Christian Zionist linked with dominionist groups on several levels) (website for a quisling group in the Jewish community actively courting dominionists, and which actually seems to be fostered by a dominionist group) (group founded to be confusingly similar to the ADL and is a pro-dominionist legal group which also seems to be involved with military personnel; interestingly, the "supporters" page is the only dead page) (dead-agenting of the ADL in the "they're trying to destroy Christmas" canard--this is now heavily being used in general to dead-agent the ADL) (another dominionist group claiming to be a "Christian alternative to the ADL" (think about that for a minute--they're claiming to be a dominionist alternative to a Jewish group fighting antisemitism) and list the ADL as an "enemy" along with most other progressive groups) (from dominionist whinging about the ADL's stand against dominionism; mentions writer who blatantly has promoted "Messianic Judaism" and has written a series of articles advocating a religious theocracy) (mentions dominionists, including a former Christian Coalition worker who is now on the "Democratic Leadership Council" (great, now we have to worry about dominionists in BOTH major political parties), claims ADL is "overreacting") (history of blatant antisemitism in AFA journals) (dead-agenting of ADL for relation to party suing Michael Marcavaige) (dead-agenting of ADL for promotion of tolerance education for children) (blatant dead-agenting of ADL for opposition to dominionist candidate associated with Illinois Family Institute) (dead-agenting of ADL over their being a party in a lawsuit against a group practicing "stealth evangelism" targeted at children) (dominionist group in Catholic community dead-agenting ADL over stand against dominionism) (attempts to dead-agent multiple groups including ADL) (evidence that opinions columns are starting to dead-agent ADL) (ADL dead-agenting by Washington Times, which is newspaper controlled by the Moonies) (dead-agenting of ADL leaders for call for national Jewish congress on subject of dominionism) (dominionist-apologist again dead-agents ADL for statements against dominionism) (pro-dominionist, very-right-wing site demonises ADL for statements against dominionism) (yet more dead-agenting by pro-dominionist writer Klingenhoffer against ADL) (dominionist-apologists in Jewish community dead-agent ADL for statements against dominionism) (dominionist dead-agents ADL, essentially claiming "hey, it's not like we're doing actual Nazi-style progroms or anything") (dead-agenting of ADL for "possibly driving our most devoted supporters away" (no matter that their "supporters" merely want to convert them))

Another person to watch besides Feder is David Klingenhoffer, who is a frequent champion of dominionist causes, including trying to bully the Smithsonian Institution to include creationism aka "intelligent design" in its exhibits, and even borderline antisemitic claims such as a claim that the Holocaust was divine punishment against the Jewish people.  Klingenhoffer, of note, is one of those who has been performing a bit of dead-agenting  of the ADL in regards to the latter's rejection of dominionism.

As it is...the Southern Poverty Law Center has now been the target of similar "dead agenting"/character assassination in dominionist press after beginning to report on dominionism (dating back to being a party in a lawsuit against Roy Moore, and the attacks stepped up especially after Chaldecon, American Vision, and Family Research Institute being formally listed as hate groups by SPLC).

Nor is ADL likely to be the only Jewish group targeted in such a manner.  Firstly, the ADL has called for a national congress of all Jewish congregations to discuss the threat of dominionism to the Jewish faith in America and worldwide; secondly, the head of the Reform Judaism congregation in the US has condemned dominionism as well and  it is strongly suspected that the Conservative Judaism congregation heads will issue a similar statement soon.

by dogemperor on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 11:34:07 PM EST

but you need to reread the Haaretz article. It supports Foxman.  Though it includes a thoughtful discussion of the quandry of conservative Jews, Haaretz is decidedly to the progressive left on the Israeli political spectrum and this article reflects that.

by tikkun on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 12:16:38 AM EST
Thanks for pointing that out...I had included that as it had mentioned how the ADL was now being targeted by the dominionist-friendly groups in the Jewish community.  I didn't mean to imply that Ha'aretz itself is pro-dominionist (after all, they originally broke the story that the ADL is taking a stance against dominionism!).

Speaking of which...looking in comments on the Ha'aretz story breaking the "ADL stands against dominionism" story is interesting to say the least.  A lot of what appears to be blatant slamming of the ADL (and, as you note, if Ha'aretz is a liberal paper, this could be astroturfing), then antidominionists start writing in...I believe Talk2Action even got a direct mention or two as a resource.

by dogemperor on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 07:51:41 AM EST

Yes, thanks for posting the link earlier to the important speech by Eric Yoffie at the recent annual Reform movement convention. That he and Foxman made these speeches around the same time indicates some real momentum. I eagerly await this national meeting -- both to see what happens there, and to see how Christian right leaders respond. Will they attack the organized Jewish community, after years of attempts to cherry pick allies from its ranks?

by Esther Kaplan on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 12:12:57 PM EST

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