Some 100 Orthodox Jewish rabbis have signed onto a letter to Amazon President and CEO Jeff Bezos urging him to quit using the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate map” to determine which groups are eligible to participate in its charitable gift program.
Amazon relies on the SPLC — a controversial group that frequently labels Christian and conservative organizations as "hate" groups — to determine which groups can be part of the AmazonSmile charity program. As a result, some conservative Christian organizations have been banned from participating in the program.
In a letter sent earlier this month, the rabbis explained that while the SPLC doesn't “denigrate the Bible or other religious texts directly,” it nevertheless “vilifies groups based upon nothing more than their advocacy for biblically based beliefs about sexual and family ethics that were uncontroversial a generation or two ago.”
“Notably, groups which falsely paint others as ‘homophobic,’ ‘transphobic,’ and ‘bigoted’ simply for retaining traditional beliefs are not categorized as hateful by the SPLC,” the Rabbis asserted.
The rabbis also accused the SPLC of being hypocritical in its designations of hate groups, saying the liberal organization “specifically avoids identifying radical Islamic groups as the leading source of modern-day anti-Semitic violence.”
“Far from fighting hate, the SPLC has descended into hateful conduct itself. Indeed, the hate map has already been employed by a domestic terrorist to identify innocents to murder,” continued the letter, alluding to the 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council where gunman Floyd Lee Corkins shot a security guard and planned to murder others based off what he read on materials distributed by the SPLC.
“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 AmazonSmile and the SPLC.”
The letter was written and signed by members of the Coalition for Jewish Values, a conservative Jewish advocacy organization based in Baltimore, Maryland.
CJV President Rabbi Pesach Lerner said in a statement released Thursday 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,” he added.
Recently, Amazon has faced increasing scrutiny for its reliance on the SPLC’s hate map to determine what nonprofits are eligible for its AmazonSmile program.
Many, especially conservative organizations and indiivduals, have been critical of how the SPLC, a far-left civil rights group based in Montgomery, Alabama, designates hate groups.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., urged Bezos at a hearing in July to sever ties with the SPLC, arguing that they “traffic in hate.”
“I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out-of-step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate,” Gaetz asked Bezos.
In response, Bezos said Amazon needs “to have some source of data to use” to weed out actual extremist groups, adding, “I would like a better source if we could get it.”