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Reform Jewish Leader Demands O’Reilly Apologize for Hitler, Pelosi Comparison

Saperstein: “Such repeated comparisons by Mr. O’Reilly display blatant insensitivity to the far-reaching effects of the evil perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis.”

Contact: Kate Bigam
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, DC, October 3, 2008 — In response to a recent comparison that TV personality Bill O’Reilly’s drew between Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent the following letter to the show’s Executive Producers, David Tabacoff and Amy Sohnen:

I write in response to commentator Bill O’Reilly’s recent statement comparing Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s presentation style and body language to that of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s.

Although O’Reilly cynically claimed, “I’m not making any comparisons here,” his decision to equate Speaker Pelosi’s public speaking style with the very personification of evil in our time is, by definition, a comparison – a particularly preposterous and insulting one, at that.  Nothing in her manner or substance – nothing – resembled the hate-filled rants Hitler was so known for. Such an inappropriate, ill-conceived analogy represents a smear campaign designed to further divide an already politically polarized American public.

This is not the first time Mr. O’Reilly has used his television show as an outlet for drawing supposed parallels between Nazi Germany and those current-day politicians and media outlets with whom he disagrees.  In the past he has accused The Huffington Post of employing “the exact same tactics that the Nazis used … to demonize certain groups of people” and later called former Vice President Al Gore an “evil enabler” for speaking at a convention that he inexplicably compared to gatherings held by both the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party.

Such repeated comparisons by Mr. O’Reilly display blatant insensitivity to the far-reaching effects of the evil perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis. In repeatedly comparing respected political figures with Hitler and Nazis, he trivializes the distinctive evil that Hitler represents. 

Mr. O’Reilly owes Speaker Pelosi an apology. I urge that you insist it be given as a requirement of the journalistic standards of the network and, should he refuse, that you act accordingly.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership  includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.



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