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A rabbi who ‘speaks to Christians’ condemned them on Twitter. It cost him his job

17 13 6
14.05.2022

JTA — Over more than a decade, Rabbi Michael Harvey built a reputation for himself as a Jewish spiritual leader who talks freely and openly to Christians.

In addition to his day job as a chaplain at Indiana University Health, the Hebrew Union College graduate produces a YouTube series called “Teach Me Judaism,” delivers talks on Judaism across the Midwest, and co-hosts a podcast and event series with a local Episcopal priest called “A Priest and a Rabbi Walk Into a Bar.”

In a previous congregational role on the US Virgin Islands, he founded the Interfaith Council of the Caribbean, and he even has a book coming out — “Let’s Talk: A Rabbi Speaks to Christians.”

All of which made a series of posts from Harvey’s Twitter account last week, in the immediate aftermath of the leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling that would overturn the abortion legislation Roe v. Wade, so surprising.

“Time to go to war,” one post says. “For our mothers, sisters and daughters. We will not stand idly by and allow a group of white Christians to turn America into the Dark Ages again. Not this time.”

Another sent that same night, which Harvey said he didn’t write, was even more explicit.

“F–k Christians and their neverending imperialistic, nationalistic, fascistic patriarchy that puts peoples lives at risks [sic] and doesn’t give a s–-t what anyone or science says,” it reads, with the profanities unedited. “Shame on all who hold the cross. 2,000 years of your genocide continues tonight.”

What happened next was a case study in 2022 Twitter, which is filled with political activism, trolls and the constant chance that one wrong move could have major consequences.

Some of Harvey’s liberal supporters, both Jewish and Christian, expressed support for his messages. But the posts also prompted anger, including from antisemitic corners of the Internet who circulated them as evidence that Harvey fit into their hateful conspiracy theories about Jews conspiring to attack Christians.

Over the next few days Harvey apologized for “my rage filled tweets,” saying they were “inappropriate,” while also telling his followers that he had been hacked. He then retweeted a series of violent threats made against him.

Eventually he deactivated his Twitter account, which had 6,000 followers, and left his job with IU Health.

“Well, this was a mess,” Harvey told JTA.

The whole saga might seem alien to people who don’t spend much time on Twitter, where enemies are sometimes made and careers ruined over a single inflammatory post. But hacking of prominent Twitter accounts is a relatively common scourge. Occasionally hackers will pose as their........

© The Times of Israel


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