Ben Shapiro: Reform Judaism does not see Jewish identity as important

Speaking at the CPAC Israel event in Tel Aviv, Shapiro explained why he personally wouldn't make aliyah – and why he doesn't see Reform Judaism as a viable option.

Conservative political commentator, writer and lawyer Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2018 Politicon in Los Angeles, California on October 21, 2018. The two day event covers all things political with dozens of high profile political figures. (photo credit: MARK RALSTON / AFP)
Conservative political commentator, writer and lawyer Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2018 Politicon in Los Angeles, California on October 21, 2018. The two day event covers all things political with dozens of high profile political figures.
(photo credit: MARK RALSTON / AFP)

Right-wing media personality Ben Shapiro said he thinks Israel shouldn’t invest diplomatically in the Union of Reform Judaism in the United States and explained why he doesn’t plan to immigrate to Israel anytime soon. He was speaking at the sold-out CPAC-Israel conference, co-sponsored by the Tel Aviv International Salon and right-wing publisher Shibboleth. CPAC is the abbreviation for Conservative Political Action Conference.

As well as his role as keynote speaker at the event on Wednesday, Shapiro was also interviewed on stage by political commentator Amit Segal of Channel 12 News.

“What do you think about what former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer once said: that Israel should put its political fortune in the Evangelist community rather than in the Reform Jewish community [in the US]?” Segal asked Shapiro, who at just 38 years of age has written 11 books.

“As a matter of blunt fact, that’s true,” Shapiro answered. “It’s an unfortunate reality of life in the United States that Reform Judaism, as a branch, does not see Jewish identity in a serious way, as central.

“It’s a very simple rubric for me: If as a Jew, your values are more in line with same-sex marriage, transgenderism and abortion than they are with, for example, the safety and security of the State of Israel – I have serious questions about how you think about yourself as a Jew,” he continued, receiving a standing ovation.

 Ben Shapiro speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Ben Shapiro speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“If I’m looking at who’s more likely to back Israel, by polling data, Jews in the United States are the single-most atheistic group of quote-unquote ‘religious people’ anywhere.... What’s weird about Jewish identity is that it has an ethnic side because, halachically, Jews are ethnically Jewish, and then it has a religious side,” he said.

“So when people self-identify as Jews in the United States, that doesn’t actually mean that they do anything that has anything to do with Judaism; it means that their last name ends in ‘berger,’ ‘stein’ or something [similar]. And you know, there are a lot of people whose last name ends with ‘berger’ or ‘stein’ who fundamentally reject nearly all Jewish values and are secular leftists – and so they vote like secular leftists.”

Why won't Ben Shapiro move to Israel?

Later in their conversation, Segal referred to the speech Shapiro gave earlier in the evening.

“You spoke a lot about hatred and antisemitism almost as a rule of history,” he said. “And it’s true, you know, many Jews in Germany of the 20th century or Spain of the 15th century felt that this [Germany or Spain] was their home: that they were free citizens; that they lived in a peaceful empire. Yet then they found the Holocaust or the Inquisition [happen]. I wanted to ask you bluntly: Do you ever wonder if one day you’ll have to flee the United States?”

Shapiro took a split second and then answered, “I think that every Jew throughout world history who has a brain and knows history has always wondered if a country that is not a Jewish state is going to eternally provide them security guarantees and full citizenship.

“That’s why the existence of the State of Israel is the single greatest guarantor of my loyalty to the United States.... Because Israel exists, that means the United States is going to be a more welcoming place for me, because Israel is there as a backstop in case anything should go wrong.”

Segal smiled and said, “I feel you tried to dodge the question.” So he said he would ask more bluntly: “Why won’t you make aliyah to the State of Israel? You can take time to think about it,” he added with a smirk.

Shapiro didn’t need any time to think about the question. “Because the fundamental principles of the United States are good, eternally good, and worth upholding,” he said. “And my fight to do that, as a Jew, is deeply important – not just to people who are not Jewish, but particularly to Jews.

“So in other words, my Jewish mission does not conflict with my presence in the United States, or my citizenship in the United States, or my loyalty to the United States.”

“Shouldn’t all Jews live in the State of Israel?” Segal asked.

In response, Shapiro said Jews “should live where they can do the most, where they can be a light to the nations. And for me, as a person with millions and millions of followers in the United States, [that is] promoting what I think are values that are eternally good... and living in the United States is a point of morality for me.”