Rabbis wrong about billboard

Originally posted at Indianapolis Star on June 13, 2017

As officers of the only statewide Jewish advocacy group in Indiana, we feel obligated to respond to the letter signed by 16 rabbis essentially demanding the silencing of any public reference to Islamic hatred of Jews. This message directly contradicts core Jewish traditions as well as fundamental American rights.

The rabbis would be well within reason to recognize historical Christian anti-Semitism, notwithstanding the fact that Christians are today among the very best friends and allies of the Jewish people and Israel. In contrast, Islamic hatred of Jews has not only existed since the founding of Islam but is by far the greatest contemporary global threat to the security of the Jewish people. The world’s most influential Muslim as ranked by a reputable Arab survey is Sheik Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, the grand Sheikh of Al Azhar University, the premier institution of Islamic learning. Sheikh Al-Tayyeb and his predecessors have all publicly professed what could only be described as odious anti-Semitism and argue that the core texts and traditions within Islam support their Jew hatred. These views are ubiquitous in the Muslim world. For example, a recent international poll from the Anti-Defamation League found the top 10 most anti-Semitic nations to be majority Muslim. The European Union reports that Muslims are about 30 times more likely to be responsible for anti-Semitic incidents than their non-Muslim counterparts. By whitewashing traditional and contemporary anti-Semitism, these rabbis reject the central Jewish priority that obligates them to defend Jewish lives.

In addition to spurning Jewish values, the rabbis also deny the fundamental American principle of freedom of speech. They write that “The right to free speech in America does not give license to the dissemination of hatred.” Their statement is patently false and directly contradicts the First Amendment, which allows even Muslim hate groups in the U.S. to disseminate anti-Semitic propaganda.

Elliot Bartky, President

Allon Friedman, Vice President

Jewish American Affairs Committee of Indiana

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