Hath Not A Jew Eyes?
By Ben Snyder
Rabbi Jonathan Hausman is a charismatic religious leader from the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton. Since the beginning of high school, I have been attending his High Holy services. Before last year, nothing he said struck me as odd or incoherent. His sermons were typical fare: taking a portion of the Bible and applying it to a modern context. In all my years at a Conservative Hebrew School, nothing he said ever surprised me.
Until last year, that is, when he made a comment about the Black Lives Matter movement. His views on the movement centered around their boycott of Israel. But, it wasn’t the comments about the movement itself that threw me off. It was what he said afterwards. Here are his exact words:
“You know me, I do not have a racist bone in my body.”
I found it oddly defensive. No one was accusing him of being a racist. Not to mention most people who “aren’t racist”, don’t have to tell people. They prove by their actions.
About three weeks ago I began a Google search for “Rabbi Jonathan Hausman.” What I found was unexpected to say the least. Rabbi Jonathan Hausman is a friend of former United States Representative Allen West from Florida. Representative West is no stranger to controversy. After the events that unfolded in Charlottesville, he wrote a post on his blog comparing Neo-Nazi’s to Black Lives Matter. The same group Rabbi Hausman criticized in his sermon.
The false parallel is both erroneous and contemptuous. They are, simply put, the opposite of Neo-Nazis. Their struggle is for “equality” opposed to “supremacy.” Their views on Israel are consistent with the values of their movement, i.e. that systemic oppression towards a minority is immoral in any context.In 2010, Mr. West publicly stated that the religion of Islam was a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country because we ride around with bumper stickers that say coexist.” He went on to suggest that Islam was not a religion, but a “totalitarian ideology.” These views might seem fringe, but they are far more commonplace than you might think. A movement known as the “Counter-Jihad” is where a lot of West’s supporters lie, including Rabbi Hausman. At the Toronto Zionist House in 2010, Rabbi Jonathan Hausman said that he believes “Sharia will be imposed as a way of life upon those of us in the civilizational West”. This is one of the key elements of the Counter Jihad Movement: stoking the fear that Islam is somehow going to destroy the U.S. But with what evidence? In a letter he sent to the Georgia Legislature, he cited a group known as the Center for Security Policy. A right wing think tank that often uses canned evidence to get specific results. Are any of his sources unbiased?
But what does this all amount to? Geert Wilders. Geert Wilders is a right-wing extremist in the Netherlands who is anti-immigration and anti-Islam. He has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf. Why is this relevant? Geert Wilders is a close friend of Jonathan Hausman. In 2009, he spoke at the Ahavath Torah Congregation. But this isn’t a thing of the past. Jonathan Hausman continues to invite extremists like Wilders into his temple to this day. Examples include social critic Wafa Sultan and author Tom Trento, both of whom are known to have said similar statements about the nature of Islam. The Rabbi even attended and spoke at the Act! for America conference. Act! for America is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”. What he said at the conference was disheartening to say the least. Referring to the persecution of Muslims and the term “Islamophobia” as a neologism. Even going as far as to gall at the mere mention of Muslims being considered a persecuted minority. Citing that there are in fact 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. While that is true, in the United States, Muslims make up approx. 0.9 percent of the population. For reference, Jews make up about 1 percent of the population in the U.S. Are they a minority now, Rabbi Hausman?
Since I was in preschool, I have been told to believe that Jews take the moral high ground in social justice and that doing a mitzvah did not just apply to Jews. Not to say there isn’t any precedent. Jews have been through a great deal of suffering, but that shouldn’t make us feel entitled. If anything, we should be helping those who are suffering and not holding them down because of their religion.
I was taught to believe that Israel was some piece of land given to us from G-d. Whether we like it or not, Israel isn’t just “our country.” It’s also the country of Muslims, Christians, and so many other diverse communities. The more we divide ourselves, the more we begin to lose our morality.
Most importantly, I was taught if you’re ordained as a Rabbi, you are a pillar of the community. But, more and more, I have been discovering that all of this is a miscalculation. Just because you are a Rabbi doesn’t mean you are deserving of the title.
None of this comes from a place of anger, but rather a place of respect. Respect for my grandparents whom Rabbi Hausman helped bury. Respect for those who practice their religion. Respect for the sanctity of the rabbinical doctrine. Respect for the truth and respect for myself. After all one cannot be true to others, if he is not true to himself.
Have a happy and healthy new year.
Senior at Natick High School