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Burning issue

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The library at Alexandria in Egypt, founded in 283 B.C., held perhaps 500,000 priceless, irreplaceable books — on papyrus and parchment — from all over the ancient world. Just imagine the riches it contained — and mourn with scholars its destruction by fire, possibly at the hands of Julius Caesar, around 48 B.C.

You would think that Egyptians would be wary of fire — especially in libraries.

But no. Comes now Farouk Hosni, the Egyptian culture minister who is a prime candidate for director general of UNESCO, and whose words, to a member of Egypt’s parliament about Israeli books in Egyptian libraries, are damning: “Let’s burn these books. If there are any, I will burn them myself before you.”

You know, UNESCO, the agency whose initials stand for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization — that one. An agency, one would have assumed, where books are assessed for their contents, not destroyed because of where they came from.

Three of Hosni’s critics, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, “Shoah” filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, and philospher Bernard-Henri Lévy, inveighed against him in Le Monde, noting among his other anti-Israel comments his characterization of Israeli culture as “an inhuman culture; it’s an aggressive, racist, pretentious culture.”

Hosni did not deny his comments but apologized for them in the same newspaper, writing, “Nothing is more distant to me than racism, the negation of others, or the desire to hurt Jewish culture or any other culture.” (By the way, as Egypt’s culture minister, Hosni banned that wonderful Israeli film, with its marvelous Egyptian actors, “The Band’s Visit.” It might have helped to warm Egypt’s “cold peace” with Israel.)

Shockingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after initially opposing Hosni’s candidacy, withdrew his objection. We can guess at his reasons — appeasing Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, for one, especially as the U.S. president heads to Cairo.

Netanyahu notwithstanding, Farouk Hosni is a clearly ineligible candidate who should not be allowed to prevail when the final choice is made in October.

For an opinion peace by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, go to


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Stay tuned for the return of comments

AB posted 04 Sep 2010 at 02:56 AM

pastor jones’ proposed actions are not right but he is just a man trying to vent out his anger by way of a protest, is that wrong? Muslims don’t give a rat’s arse if one million bibles are burnt, if it is, it’s all good, they do it everyday, all day. The pastor’s action will not cause anything different from what the fanatics have been doing, the truth is no amount of meekness or arse liking will make them stop their activity. The end to terrorism against non muslims will only come when there are no more non muslims to kill. We christians will just have to bear this curse of islam in our time and live christ-like lives hoping to be rewarded in heaven. If we rise up against them, we go against the most basic tenets of our religion but to them violence against non muslims is a core duty. Bear your cross christian brothers if u want to make heaven. cheers and God bless ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS…..

Dan posted 09 Sep 2010 at 04:08 AM

After reading comments from other places and this one… I feel I must say something.  Not all Christians condone what this man does, it is not right and is against Jesus Christ’s teachings as well as Jewish teaching.  AB, how can you ask how it is so wrong?  You denounce what the Muslims do to the bible and how they murder, and yet how will we be so different from them if we condone what this man is doing?

I came across a website run by Muslims and the reaction was not that they planned on murdering Christians because of this, but that they would pray for this man’s safety, but that there were indeed radical Muslims who would retaliate for this burning.  They also mentioned that they hope Osama Bin Laden is caught so that there is less persecution of Muslims (I’m not so sure he’s alive, but a body would be nice at least).

My point is that although yes, there are Muslims who believe it is their duty to kill infidels, but these are the radicals and burning the Koran is only going to make them kill more people.  The sad thing in my mind, is that there are Christians in countries with huge Muslim populations trying to explain what our religion is all about.  How we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, when what we are really doing is loving those who love us.  It makes us seem as hypocrites, even though the people who hate our enemies and love them are different people, backing such behavior only makes this hypocritical behavior seem even more real.

I read this report on the issue by those of the Jewish faith, and truly, I believe this is the stance that all Christians need to have on the subject.  I am also glad to hear that the Jewish community holds other religions including Christianity in esteem, and am saddened that there are people that call themselves Christian that would do harm to the Jewish community, though I am not surprised.



A view from the pew


Toward an end to gun violence

It is not entirely foreign to Jews to imagine being massacred at prayer.

This is not even a question of historical memory, although our story overflows with such murderous episodes. No, we just have to think back to last November, when assassins burst into a synagogue at Har Nof, in Jerusalem, and butchered four men there as they stood lost in the Amidah, the silent prayer at the heart of the service.

Then the killers slaughtered a Druze policeman who tried to protect the daveners.

Last week, a crazed, racist 21-year-old, a loser with a bowl haircut, dead eyes, and a gun, went into the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston, like Jerusalem, is an old city (although of course here in the New World we measure age in centuries; in Israel it’s in millennia). It’s been at the heart of the slave trade, and so represented evil, but it is also beautiful, graceful, quirky, and a bustling tourist destination.



Thoughts on identity

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