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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.


The world is poorer now than it was last week.

On Saturday, George Hantgan died.

Mr. Hantgan lived a long and full life. He was 98; he was a husband, father, and grandfather.

He also was the founder of the institutions that shaped Jewish life in northern New Jersey — and in fact far beyond our borders — and he created the culture of giving that has allowed this community to flourish.

We wrote a cover story about Mr. Hantgan in the March 21 issue of the Jewish Standard. There, we described how the boy from Brooklyn, born during World War I, ended up meeting three presidents. The first one he met, for having been a particularly enterprising newsboy, was Herbert Hoover — we marveled at that then, as we do now.



What were they thinking?

In many ways, the Jewish Center of Teaneck is the prototypical post-World-War-II suburban synagogue, and the arc of its story — founded in 1933, it went up, up, up, a long peak, and then back down — is an encapsulated version of a particular strain of postwar American Judaism, which rocketed up and now is petering out.

It is a shul with a pool, a full-service Jewish center, the model that the Orthodox-turned-Conservative-turned-Reconstructionist Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was credited with having championed. It is a vast building, big enough for the crowds that once filled it, but expensive to heat, cool, and maintain.

It was once an exemplar of the fluidity between religious movements. It had two longtime rabbis, who each left his stamp on the community. The first, Rabbi Judah Washer, was ordained by Yeshiva University, and the second, Rabbi David Feldman, who died on November 28, earned his smicha at the Jewish Theological Seminary, itself a place where Orthodox scholars flourished. The synagogue, which once was affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, adhered, throughout most of its history, to the only-in-America custom of allowing mixed seating but not counting women in the minyan.

At its peak, the Jewish Center, Teaneck’s oldest congregation and once its biggest, most prominent, and most influential, boasted 1,500 member families.

That was then. Now is another story.



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.




Let it snow?


Better together


Standing with Sinai

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