The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is appalled by the increasingly intolerant and inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric that is currently pulsing through American society. Our nation is rooted in principles of religious freedom and religious and racial tolerance. Respect for diversity is at the very core of our national identity, is vital for our democracy to thrive, and is among our most cherished values as Americans and as Jews.
Our country, and, indeed, the entire world, is facing a significant threat from radical Islamist terrorism. However, we denounce proposals that single out certain groups for disparate treatment based on religion, race or ethnicity. Therefore, we condemn, without qualification, any religious bigotry which includes calls for a national registry of Muslims, selective immigration policies that intentionally prohibit entry to the United States by Muslims, or outright bans on Muslims from traveling to the United States, without proper cause. Suggestions of such selective treatment against any group of people have no place in our political discourse or in American society.
Our Jewish community applauds the statements by Senators Casey and Toomey and Representatives Dent and Cartwright condemning religion as a test for entrance to the United States. We also stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and its leadership in the Lehigh Valley, who have spoken out unequivocally -- both to their communities, as well as to society at large -- to condemn and reject hateful interpretations of Islam that are wholly incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley echoes the thoughts expressed by several national Jewish organizations:
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA): "There is no place in America, a nation founded on religious freedom, for discrimination on the basis of religion or any other immutable characteristic, for that matter ... This time it is Muslims ... but in past years it has been gays, and before that Catholics, Jews, Japanese, Irish, and other groups that are a part of the fabric of our unique and diverse American society. The JCPA opposes the use of demagoguery and demonization ... and believes that civil political discourse is the key to having a knowledgeable electorate.
Anti-Defamation League (ADL): "Barring people from entry to the United States based on their religion is unacceptable and antithetical to American values ... In the Jewish community, we know all too well what can happen when a particular religious group is singled out for stereotyping and scapegoating ...Yes, we can and must protect ourselves, but we must do so without sacrificing our fundamental principles of freedom and liberty."
American Jewish Committee (AJC): "Yes, this country faces the very real threat of radical Islamist terror. We cannot, however, fall into the trap of blaming and banning an entire religious group, who overwhelmingly reject the violence and extremism of Islamist terrorists."
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism: "The absence of religious tests for entry or for office, and the freedom of every individual to practice their religion, is sources of national strength, not weakness."
Orthodox Union: "We call on all Americans to reaffirm that discrimination of any group solely upon religion is wrong and anathema to the great traditions of religious and personal freedoms upon which this country was founded."
Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative): "We recognize the need to be vigilant in providing security and protection from those who seek to do our country harm, but discriminating against an entire religion is wrong and dangerous."
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association: "We call on all Jews and all Americans to denounce hate speech and fear-mongering against Muslims in politics and the media, and to reach out in support of Muslim Americans in every way that we can."