Preaching Hate, Reaping Violence

Preaching Hate, Reaping Violence

November 14, 2000 - The New York Times

Not since the 1930s have Jews worldwide been exposed to the displays of hate heard and seen in the streets of major cities around the world in recent weeks.

From Washington to Ottawa to Paris, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have chanted in Arabic for the “slaughter” of Jews. Across Europe, the Americas, Australia and South Africa, dozens of synagogues, schools and other Jewish sites have been attacked.

In Chicago shots were fired at a rabbi, and in London an Orthodox Jew was stabbed repeatedly. In Paris, children on their way to a Jewish day school were attacked.

This terrorism is being encouraged by some Muslim religious leaders, such as the Palestinian Authority-appointed cleric who told worshipers at Friday prayers: “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them where they are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.”

Similar calls have been distributed as religious rulings, or fatwas, over the Internet, the ultimate tool for high-speed dissemination of hate. Occurring in tandem with the current Palestinian campaign of orchestrated violence against Israel, the growing attacks on Jews worldwide represent a sinister effort to expand the conflict beyond the Middle East.

And they come as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has made far-reaching offers for peace, continues again this week to extend the hand of peace that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat spurns.

Political and religious leaders must speak out unequivocally against the continuing danger posed by those in the Islamic world who preach a gospel of hate, who implore followers to “slaughter the Jews.”

One of the costly lessons the world should have learned is that words such as these have enormous power. When Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in 1925, calling for the extermination of Jews, few took him seriously. A decade later he began to implement his grotesque plan. Today’s calls for violence threaten not only Jews but the very foundation of pluralistic societies rooted in a spirit of mutual respect and the rule of law.

We ignore these threats at our collective peril.

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