On September 1, 2020, one hundred Orthodox Jewish rabbis affiliated with the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) sent a letter asking Jeff Bezos, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Amazon.com, Inc., to terminate the use of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “Hate Map” to deny support to nonprofits from the AmazonSmile charitable gift program. The rabbis argued that the SPLC list, besides unfairly targeting conservative organizations for opprobrium, was “detrimental and even dangerous to the Jewish community.”
At present, the AmazonSmile charity support program uses the SPLC “Hate Map” to exclude otherwise-eligible charities. The rabbis’ letter notes that in addition to vilifying charities “based upon nothing more than their advocacy for biblically based beliefs about sexual and family ethics that were uncontroversial a generation or two ago… the SPLC specifically avoids identifying radical Islamic groups as the leading source of modern-day anti-Semitic violence,” and even characterizes groups opposing Islamic terrorism as “anti-Muslim” and hateful. The letter concludes, “on behalf of the Jewish community and all who share concern for our lives and safety, we urge you to immediately terminate any association between Amazon Smile and the SPLC.”
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the CJV, explained that “when funding is denied to organizations that fight hate against Jews, but is provided to organizations that foment that hatred, this is certainly Antisemitic in effect, even if not in intent. Placing groups which are objectively opposed to hate onto this list only harms the fight against its real and dangerous manifestations.”
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In late August, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Mr. Bezos arguing that the SPLC demonstrated “bias against certain conservative non-profits,” and requesting a briefing on the relationship between the SPLC “Hate Map” and AmazonSmile. The CJV letter, which was shared with the Committee members, underscored the unique danger the SPLC’s slant posed to Jews.
“According to the SPLC, Christians can only incite hate, and Muslims can only be its victims,” the rabbis’ letter said. “Yet more Jews have been murdered in the past 50 years due to radical Islamic terror organizations than all those groups that the SPLC does mention — combined. This level of dishonesty directly endangers the Jewish community.”