Last week, a coalition of 100 Orthodox Jewish rabbis sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, warning that Amazon Smile relies on a deceptive and dangerous “hate map” to exclude mainstream conservative and Christian organizations from the company’s charity program. They insisted that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) actually makes America more dangerous for the Jewish community by downplaying the very real threat of radical Islamic organizations connected to terrorist groups.
“We represent Jewish rabbinic leaders in synagogues, schools and rabbinical seminaries across the United States,” the rabbis with the Coalition of Jewish Values (CJV) wrote in a letter first published by Fox News. “We write to highlight the fact that the SPLC ‘hate map’ is uniquely detrimental and even dangerous to the Jewish community, and to urge you directly to terminate the association of your generous AmazonSmile charity-support program with the SPLC and its ‘hate map.'”
The rabbis condemned the SPLC’s list of “hate groups” as “unfair, unreasonable, and biased.” Indeed, the SPLC routinely brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” including them on a list with the Ku Klux Klan.
“While the SPLC is careful not to denigrate the Bible or other religious texts directly, it frequently vilifies groups based upon nothing more than their advocacy for biblically based beliefs about sexual and family ethics that were uncontroversial a generation or two ago,” they noted. “Notably, groups which falsely paint others as ‘homophobic,’ ‘transphobic,’ and ‘bigoted’ simply for retaining traditional beliefs are not categorized as hateful by the SPLC.”
The SPLC also overlooks “groups which ally with international terror organizations, openly glorify murder under the guise of ‘resistance,’ and frequently descend into clearly anti-Semitic expression,” the rabbis warned. “The SPLC specifically avoids identifying radical Islamic groups as the leading source of modern-day anti-Semitic violence.”
Indeed, when the SPLC attacked Holocaust denial in 2018, the far-left group failed to mention the fact that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are widespread in the Muslim world. The SPLC’s article even went on to warn that Holocaust denial poses a threat to Muslims.
The rabbis also noted that the SPLC partners with the Council on American-Islamic Relations CAIR), which conspired to provide material support to Hamas, “an internationally-recognized terrorist group with beliefs rooted in radical Islam and genocidal anti-Semitism written into its charter.”
While the SPLC covers for groups like CAIR, it “falsely stamps numerous groups as ‘anti-Muslim’ and hateful because they call attention to the dangers of Islamic terrorism — even including those whose founders or family members thereof have been directly victimized by that same Islamic terror.”
The SPLC also branded Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz an “anti-Islamic extremist,” listing among other issues his visit to a strip club on his bachelor party. The group settled Nawaz’s lawsuit by paying $3 million. The rabbis said this situation “would be comical, were the consequences not so deadly serious.”
“According to the SPLC, Christians can only incite hate, and Muslims can only be its victims. Yet more Jews have been murdered in the past 50 years due to radical Islamic terror organizations than all those groups that the SPLC does mention — combined,” the rabbis added. “This level of dishonesty directly endangers the Jewish community.”
The Jewish leaders noted that a would-be domestic terrorist used the “hate map” to target the Family Research Council (FRC) in 2012, identifying “innocents to murder,” and warned that the SPLC’s “association with AmazonSmile denies needed funding from groups that fight terrorism and the murders that are terror’s primary tactic.”
“On behalf of the Jewish community and all who share concern for our lives and safety, we urge you to immediately terminate any association between Amazon Smile and the SPLC,” the rabbis concluded.
The SPLC has not just targeted Muslim reformers and Christians, however. The far-left smear factory also targeted Jewish non-profit leader Arthur Goldberg, founder of the group Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH). The SPLC weaponized New Jersey’s consumer fraud law to shut down JONAH, falsely claiming that the group was peddling “conversion therapy” for people with unwanted same-sex attraction.
Goldberg founded a completely separate organization to advocate the seven Noahide laws, the moral foundation for Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Western civilization. The Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA) also hosted Funding Morality, one of the few conservative crowdfunding websites. The SPLC shamelessly argued that Goldberg was violating the court order shutting down JONAH by operating JIFGA. A judge proceeded to shut down JIFGA and Funding Morality. Goldberg is appealing the decision.
As I reported both here at PJ Media and in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC began as a noble civil rights organization. Yet over the years, the SPLC drifted from its original mission of helping poor people in the South to bankrupting the Ku Klux Klan and eventually to exaggerating hate to scare donors into ponying up cash.
Last year, the SPLC fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, amid a decades-long sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal. After Dees was fired, former employees came forward, admitting their complicity in the “con.” The SPLC’s “hate group” list not only exaggerates the number of “hate groups” by listing defunct or essentially non-existent groups along with the KKK, but it also tars the reputations of law-abiding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC), Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and ACT for America.
Due to these and other scandals, many organizations have called on Amazon to drop the SPLC, not all of them conservative. The non-partisan New Tolerance Campaign urged the tech company to drop the “hate group” list, calling its use a “clear case” of “the unequal application of tolerance in mainstream American culture.” One of the organizations unfairly accused by the SPLC, the Christian charity D. James Kennedy Ministries, has sued Amazon along with the SPLC for defamation.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) pressed Bezos on the issue in a July congressional hearing. The Republican National Committee (RNC) issued a resolution condemning the SPLC last month. Yet Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) cited the SPLC to demonize a Senate witness at a hearing about antifa. For its part, the SPLC has condemned Trump’s designation of antifa as a domestic terrorist group.
It is high time Amazon wakes up to the danger of this scandal-plagued smear factory. Perhaps these 100 rabbis will get Bezos to reconsider his reliance on this scam.
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.