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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.


Continuing the Jewish Center conversation

Our editorial about the Teaneck Jewish Center’s plans to partner with Yeshivat Heichal Hatorah clearly sparked discussion in our community, as our Letters page has made clear these past few weeks.

Some have questioned what right we as a newspaper have to weigh in on the decision to be made by a synagogue’s board. Those critics have forgotten the essential nature of a newspaper editorial: To weigh in on other people’s business. That other people have no obligation to follow our opinion is a given; had our editorials been binding these pages would have achieved Mideast peace and ended world hunger decades ago.



What’s the deal with Argentina?


Slaughter in Paris

At the center of the blood and cruelty and pain and death was pure evil. That much is clear. Evil at Charlie Hebdo, evil at the Hyper Cacher. Pure evil.

But nothing around it is clear. Everything is a jumbled mess of arguments, of debates over free speech and the right to offend and the nature of anti-Semitism and its relationship to Israel and the difference between lone wolves and sleeper cells and the relationship between ISIS and Al Qaeda and the relationship between France and its Muslims and the relationship between France and its Jews and most dangerously, most importantly, most transgressively, because we are not supposed to talk about it at all, the true nature of Islam, about whether these attacks are a logical outgrowth of Islam or a total perversion of its basic truth.

Whatever the answers to some of the questions might be, it is clear that we no longer can avoid them. We cannot wish the link between Islam and acts of terrorism away, as much as we might like to, as much as some of our deeply held political and even religious beliefs might try to force us to. We always must keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists, that they, like us, fear terrorists, and that they do not want acts of evil committed in their name.




Big bucks … but a pittance for lives

As we know from the news, on Monday the families of some of the victims of six terror attacks in Jerusalem a decade or so ago won a big judgment against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.

Did we say big? Sometimes understatement is gratifying. The judgment, ordered by a Brooklyn jury, was for more than $218 million; the anti-terrorism act most likely will cause that amount to be tripled. That would be about $655 million.

That is an amount of money — actually an amount of anything — that most of us can neither visualize nor imagine. (Although, strikingly, it is less than the $1.3 billion Gov. Chris Christie has not paid into the state’s pension fund. But we digress.)



Listening to Shimon Peres

On Sunday, the Times of Israel had a gala dinner to begin its fourth year. It was held at the legendarily glamorous Waldorf Astoria; the absolutely ludicrous cold outside made the hotel’s luxury gleam even more warmly.

The room was packed, and so was the roster of speakers. Each was impressive.

Among them was Shimon Peres, the recently retired president of Israel, who is also a former prime minister and the holder of many other positions and winner of many prizes. He was ushered to a chair on stage, and spoke in conversation with David Horovitz, the Times of Israel’s founder and editor.



Our big news

We are so excited!

You will hear from our publisher and partners in the cover story detailing our new partnership with the Times of Israel, but here is the chance for us, as the editorial staff, to join in the discussion.

We love our print newspaper. We love the feeling of paper beneath our fingers. We like turning pages, we like opening the paper randomly, we like the heft of it in our hands. We love the colors. We love being able to write on it, and tear it, and use it for shopping lists. We love being able to store it away. We even love being able to use it to pack dishes (and yes, we know to wash the dishes once they are unpacked).


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