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Monday, January 09, 2006

Abramoff Hurts Jews

Jack Abramoff is a fraud, a cheat and a louse. But to Jeff Jacoby, there is something much worse that Abramoff has done.

The worst is that Abramoff is a Jew. Not only a Jew, but an Orthodox Jew — someone who claims to be committed to strictly observing Jewish law and faithfully adhering to the Torah's ethical standards. But instead of upholding those ethical standards Abramoff trampled on them, and a "religious" Jew who behaves so corruptly disgraces not only himself but all religious Jews. He brings his faith into contempt. He is guilty of what Jewish tradition calls, with disgust, chillul HaShem — a desecration of G-d's name.

For me — also an observant Jew — that is the worst thing of all.

Abramoff allows bigots to use his religion as proof of the group's likelihood of wrongdoing. He literally and figuratively wore his religion to camoflage corrupt behavior. And as such, he has soiled the religion.

Jacoby writes:

One who behaves so unethically and illegally drags more than his own reputation through the mud. He is an embarrassment to his religion and his community, and that comes close to being unforgivable.

Jewish abhorrance towards criminals is so strong that such behavior is not countenanced. Jews do feel a personal stake in the US and personal pain in such actions by one of their members in abusing the system that has made them free.

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