Gellman's out. Freundel, Lapin, Neuhaus and Schonfeld remain. Mouw is on the
It sounds like the roster for an inter-religious basketball game designed to foster Jewish-Christian understanding, perhaps, but it's not.
The issue is how conservatives choose allies. Are they willing to work with a reputed
terrorist-friendly Muslim to pre-empt gay marriage?
Rabbi Marc Gellman is not. Roughly two weeks since JewishWorldReview.com reported that Gellman and other prominent religious conservatives were part of an anti-gay marriage coalition that includes a reputed terrorist-friendly Muslim group, Gellman bolted from this queer alliance.
JewishWorldReview.com has learned that Gellman, perhaps America's best known rabbi because of his frequent television appearances as the Jewish half of the two man "God Squad", quietly resigned late last week from the advisory board to the Alliance for Marriage because it includes the Islamic Society of North America.
What is ISNA?
The AFM contends that ISNA is a legitimate, mainstream Islamic group. The "proof" is that ISNA is not on the State Department's list of terrorist front groups.
But that rationale doesn't impress terrorist expert Steve Emerson. True, he explains, "you will not find ISNA on any formal list of terrorist front groups. (And the government does not publicly reveal who its investigating.) And its unlikely that ISNA will be designated as such given the way it is structured and financially organized (it does not hold any assets but shifts them to a corporate subsidary very complex situation.) But if you look at ISNA's involvement with terrorist groups, its hosting of actual terrorist leaders. Its ideological support for Islamic terrorist groups, you will find that it serves as an umbrella group for the Muslim Brotherhood."
Nevertheless, many of Gellman's fellow clerics and religious conservatives remain wedded to the AFM, despite its inclusion of ISNA. The group is spearheading the drive for a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to heterosexuals.
These conservatives include Rabbi Barry Freundel, spiritual leader of Kesher Israel, the Georgetown shul that counts Joe Lieberman among its congregants, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Toward Tradition, an organization that intends to unite Jews and Christians committed to traditional values, neo-conservative author Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, and Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, a top official at the best known kosher supervision agency in the nation, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Other prominent religious conservatives who remain on the advisory board with ISNA and thus enable an extremist organization that should be ostracized to maintain mainstream credibility include the noted Evangelical, Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, Ray Flynn, Bill Clinton's ambassador to the Vatican, Harvard Law School professor Mary Anne Glendon, a prominent Catholic conservative, and the Public Affairs Office of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
That's quite a God Squad, even if it no longer includes Gellman.
Now that Gellman has bolted, are his colleagues likely to follow suit?
Rabbi Daniel Lapin declined comment. But he previously refused to resign from the AFM advisory board when JewishWorldReview.com reported its advisory board included a different terrorist-friendly Muslim group. So it's unlikely he'll quit now.
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But Rabbi Barry Freundel a.k.a "Lieberman's rabbi" might be a different case. Freundel won't talk on the record. Privately, however, he could be under pressure from colleagues.
Rabbi Kenneth Auman, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, of which Freundel is a vice president, tells JewishWorldReview.com "I know [Freundel's association with ISNA] is being looked into." Freundel, he said, is now "aware," of ISNA's memberbship, but was previously in the dark. "He is re-assessing his position."
Auman said he was confident Freundel would show "good judment" in making his decision.
Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, said his organization has not discussed the matter with Freundel or Schonfeld. He refused to comment on their membership in the AFM, except to note that the Orthodox Union previously withdrew its official representative from the Alliance for Marriage (in 2001 after the AMC connection was first reported by JewishWorldReview.com) and that Rabbis Freundel and Schoenfeld were not representing the OU as members of the AFM advisory board.
However, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, father of the AFM member, and a member of the Orthodox Union's board of directors, defended his son's decision to remain with the group.
"I wouldn't resign. I would get rid of them [ISNA]."
He refused to say what the younger Schonfeld should do if ISNA remains on the advisory board.
Other men and women of faith however, are unwilling to countenance the AFM's alliance with ISNA.
Christians all over the country, many apparently Evangelicals, wrote JewishWorldReview.com and this reporter to thank them for the expose. And they echoed those sentiments on talk radio shows. Although fervently opposed to gay marriage, they essentially said that you can't make a deal with the devil to do the Divine's work.
"Thank you for your expose on the 'unholy' alliance between ISNA and its Christian and Jewish friends," one woman wrote. "I as a strongly committed Christian, will be forwarding this onto my friends. Simply stated, the ends do not justify the means."
That is certainly true. More generally, Gellman has landed on the right side of a moral litmus test that most anyone in public life faces at one time: How to choose allies.
It's the stuff that separates men of true integrity from cowards whose adherence to an ends justify the means ethos renders them morally indistinguishable from godless communists.
Gellman has acted honorably. Hopefully, others will follow his lead.