Pelavin: "A wide-ranging exploration of radicalism writ-large is necessary, and we would welcome it. But today's hearing is not that exploration. It is a narrow, myopic, investigation into the American Muslim community which unfairly targets one group of citizens in Congressional proceedings."
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 9, 2011 -- In advance of Thursday's hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee on the radicalization of American Muslims, Mark Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, submitted testimony for the Congressional record. Pelavin will also join other faith leaders in a press conference after the hearings, Thursday, on Capitol Hill.
Excerpts from the testimony follow and the full testimony is available by contacting the Religious Action Center:
"In short, although we are indeed deeply concerned about the threat posed by radicalism, we believe today's hearing - with its exclusive focus on the American Muslim community - is fundamentally flawed. A wide-ranging exploration of radicalism writ-large is necessary, and we would welcome it. But today's hearing is not that exploration. It is a narrow, myopic, investigation into the American Muslim community which unfairly targets one group of citizens in Congressional proceedings."
"The narrow focus of today's hearing is also counterproductive in failing to recognize the role that moderate Muslims have played in the past in preventing terror threats, creating a filter through which that community may feel less comfortable approaching law enforcement officials. These hearings threaten to reduce, rather than enhance, our security."
"As I noted above, I want to be clear that our opposition to these hearings is not based on an opposition to investigations into radicalization in general. We support the right of this Committee and other appropriate government institutions to defend America from both external and internal threats. We acknowledge that a small number of radical Muslims exist in America. We insist, however, that this Committee not fail to recognize that radicalism is not limited to Islam and in no way are all Muslims radical. If this hearing were part of a series of hearings on radicalism it would be justified; but as an isolated inquiry it is not."
"For the Jewish community, singling out a religious group for government scrutiny and questioning in this manner is particularly concerning, for we have been among the quintessential victims of group hatred, persecution, and discrimination in Western civilization. We know all too well the impact of discrimination and the power that malicious and fallacious speech can have, especially when endorsed by a government."