Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800
WASHINGTON March 27, 2000 — Rabbi Gerald Serotta, respected activist and Scholar in Residence at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, joined Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and two survivors of the Holocaust in denouncing material on the National Rifle Association webpage that compares American restrictions on guns to the systematic disarmament of Jews prior to the Nazi Holocaust.
This is only the latest outrage in a stream of condemnable NRA rhetoric. In a letter to the NRA last week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, spoke out against their accusations that President Clinton condones gun violence to achieve political aims. Today, Rabbi Serotta called on the NRA to remove references to the Holocaust from its website and to discontinue its disruptive rhetoric, instead seeking proactive ways to make our society safer from gun violence.
Rabbi Serotta's statement follows:
As we have heard, the National Rifle Association has posted material on its webpage comparing American gun control legislation to Nazi Germany's laws preventing Jews from owning guns.
When will the National Rifle Association move beyond inflammatory and vicious slander? This material is offensive on multiple levels--in its intimation that our government is an oppressive regime rather than a democracy that values freedom, in its blatant falsity, and, especially, in its casual treatment of the Holocaust.
With this outrageous material, the NRA has not only offended Jews and other groups that suffered and died during the Holocaust. They have offended anyone who believes in the preservation and value of life. The NRA should remove this scandalous propaganda from its webpage and they should do so today.
But who among us is surprised that the NRA has issued this misleading and hurtful speech? This is only the latest in a series of outrages perpetrated by the National Rifle Association. Earlier this month the NRA accused President Clinton of having "blood on his hands" and alleged that the President tolerates gun violence in order to justify gun control. Despite numerous appeals from eminent and reasonable people, no apology has been forthcoming. Indeed, the NRA has only ratcheted up its rhetoric.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, decried this shift of blame. He wrote last week to Charleton Heston and Wayne LaPierre in a letter calling on the NRA to tone down their rhetoric: "No religion countenances killing; no moral teaching extols violence; no common-sense look at our society denies the need for us to move forward on gun control."
Our communities have been torn apart by gun violence. Twelve children die every day across the country due to gun related injuries. The death count from handguns in America is greater than that for 25 other industrialized nations combined.
And all the while the NRA continues to be the single greatest obstructionist force to meaningful regulations of firearms in this country.
Rabbi Yoffie speaks for Reform Jews across the nation when he urges the National Rifle Association to discontinue its disruptive rhetoric of blame and to join our campaign to find proactive solutions to the problem of gun violence-solutions that will enable all Americans to live in a society where liberties are protected without sacrificing safety.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing its 895 congregations across North America, whose membership includes 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the 1700 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.