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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 http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/International_Affairs/20090603-oped+unesco.htm.

RKB

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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.

 

Yom Hashoah

Pesach falls when it falls — on the 15th day of Nisan, when the moon is full, hanging low and seeming close to us.

We know that because the Bible tell us so.

Yom Hashoah, on the other hand, is not divinely mandated — in fact, you could make the strong argument that its origins come from the other direction, the pits of hell. But in fact it was created to fall close to the anniversary of the revolt of the Warsaw ghetto, the evening of Passover 1943, and just a week before Yom Hazikaron, when we remember Israel’s fallen heroes, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, when we switch from sorrow to joy as we celebrate Israel’s independence.

 

 

Trouble in Israel

Usually there is a honeymoon after an election. Even if the election was hotly contested, even if the losing side is smarting and bitter, there is at least a show of hatchet-burying.

Except if it is 2000 and the election is Bush versus Gore, handshakes and warm wishes are in order.

And usually an election is seen as an internal event. We might regret what we see as the clear short-sightedness, if not abject stupidity, of the citizens of another country, but we don’t usually say so publicly — although we might smugly wait for disaster to unroll there. Certainly our leaders do not criticize the outcomes of foreign elections — nor do we expect criticism about our choices from our allies.

 

 

Two holidays

Shavuot and Memorial Day.

This year they happen at the same time. What can we make of that?

Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah, the day when, as we are told, the Israelites gathered around Mount Sinai, listened to the thunder and watched the lightning, and were given and accepted what is still our most foundational text, the tie that still binds us (as frayed as occasionally it might appear).

We usher Shavuot in by studying all night, and then greeting the new light in the morning, by eating dairy rather than flesh, by glorying (at least in this latitude) in the heavily leafy branches and the dappled sunlight that comes through them, in the new flowers and perfumed air of late spring.

 

 

RECENTLYADDED

Share the magic

Our cover story this week focuses on Zahal Shalom, the program that brings ten Israeli veterans to spend two weeks in America. The itinerary checks all the boxes on the tourism lists — the Metropolitan Museum, Central Park, Washington Square Park, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Bergen Town Center in Paramus — but the real agenda is about relationships. Each soldier gets to know two American Jewish families: One that provides the soldier with a bed and breakfast, and one that goes on tours with the group during the day.

We salute those of you who open your houses and your hearts for this — and those of you who open your wallets as well. The program costs about $4,500 for each visiting Israeli. And we urge readers who think that they can commit to hosting an Israeli next year to get in touch with the program’s organizers. Details can be found at zahalshalom.com.

 

 

Two holidays

Shavuot and Memorial Day.

This year they happen at the same time. What can we make of that?

Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah, the day when, as we are told, the Israelites gathered around Mount Sinai, listened to the thunder and watched the lightning, and were given and accepted what is still our most foundational text, the tie that still binds us (as frayed as occasionally it might appear).

We usher Shavuot in by studying all night, and then greeting the new light in the morning, by eating dairy rather than flesh, by glorying (at least in this latitude) in the heavily leafy branches and the dappled sunlight that comes through them, in the new flowers and perfumed air of late spring.

 

 

Pew News for Jews

Wait. What is this?

Good news about Jews? From the Pews?

Yes, it is. After last year’s jeremiad about how we are dribbling away American Jews, sweating them out from every last one of our communal pores, presented to us in a study done by the Pew Foundation, we now are presented with a different set of numbers.

Now, we are told that in fact the number of Jews has risen slightly. We are now approximately 1.9 percent of all Americans, and the largest group among the 5.9 percent belonging to the “non-Christian faiths.” In 2007, the last time the study was done, we were at 1.7 percent. It’s a small change — but baby steps…

This Pew Study quite reasonably focuses on Christians, who now make up about 70.6 percent of the population. The big news for them is that their decline has been precipitous, although their numbers still are high. In 2007, they made up about 79 percent of all Americans. That drop seems to be more or less the same in all demographic groups across the country. Although younger people seem a bit more likely to have given up identifying themselves as belonging to a particular faith tradition, they are not alone. Many of their elders have made the same move.

 

 
 
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