A Good Interfaith Effort

Letter to the Editor, Washington Post

By calling on U.S. Muslim critics of Khalid Duran "to be the first" to condemn death threats against him, a July 6 editorial made clear the need for all Americans to condemn a Jordanian cleric's call to "shed the blood" of the author of "Children of Abraham." But by criticizing, without substantiation, our selection of the author for an educational and apolitical book on Islam, we believe The Post has mistakenly sided with our Jewish-Muslim project's critics, who embarked on a campaign of disinformation and character assassination long before the two books came off the printing press.

The American Jewish Committee is committed to advancing Jewish-Muslim understanding. It believes that Prof. Duran's book is a comprehensive primer on Islam that is both an introduction to the basics and an informed examination of the debates going on in the Muslim community worldwide. But the committee recognized that the act of cooperating publicly with a Jewish organization might provoke extremists -- both in the United States and abroad -- in the very community with which it seeks more positive interaction. Opposing such extremists is a challenge for all of us. But given the praise "Children of Abraham" has received so far from Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, including Prince Hassan of Jordan, we know that many are joining with us in the pursuit of common ground and mutual appreciation among all the adherents of Abrahamic faiths.

HAROLD TANNER President The American Jewish Committee New York

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