Saudi Cleric's 'Poisonous Words'
04/26/02
Staff Writer
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Like a runaway train, the assault on Judaism by prominent Islamic religious leaders keeps gaining momentum. The latest blow came last Friday when a top Saudi Arabian cleric called on Allah to kill the Jews, whom he described as "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the killers of prophets and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs." Speaking in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Sudais also called on Arabs to abandon peace efforts with Israel because they were "impossible." And he called on Muslims to stand with the Palestinians financially, saying that peace with Israel was futile because it only "accepts liquidating its opponent, taking over his land, making his people homeless and canceling his dignity. They want the state of Greater Israel. They want to eliminate the nation of one God and the Koran," according to press reports. The hate-filled sermon by one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent religious leaders was broadcast live on Arabic TV and radio. "This is the worst public anti-Jewish rhetoric I've seen since I started working in this field in 1968," said veteran interfaith expert Rabbi James Rudin. He said the "poisonous words lead to poisonous actions" and if left unchecked "it will become acceptable and give validation to more attacks on Jews anywhere in the world." Rabbi Rudin said it's time for Christian leaders and Islamic moderate leaders to speak out. "This is not an attack on the military or Zionists or Israelis. It's Jews. It has to be checked and discredited." He noted that the extremist Islamic clerics are tailoring thousands of years of Christian anti-Semitism for their own use. U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) told CNN on Sunday he believes the next targets of Islamic suicide terrorists are "Jewish targets outside of Israel. I fear Jewish targets around the world beginning in Europe are vulnerable," he said. Sheik al-Sudais' sermon is part of a larger pattern. It follows a telethon sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government that raised nearly $100 million to aid Palestinian "martyrs": leaving unclear what "martyr" means. Also last week Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain, Ghazi Algosaibi, published a poem stating that Palestinian suicide bombers "died to honor my God's world." Egypt's top Muslim clerics are also onboard this runaway train. In recent days, two of the most influential Egyptian sheiks, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi and Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayyib, proclaimed that suicide bombings against Israel are valid under Islamic law. Earlier this year, Sheik Tantawi denied there were remains of King Solomon's Jewish Temple underneath the Al-Aqsa mosque, Jerusalem's Temple Mount, according to Egypt's MENA state news agency. All this builds as Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz is set to meet Thursday with President George W. Bush to discuss the Middle East crisis. Reform movement president Rabbi Eric Yoffie (who has invited Prince Abdullah to meet with him in Texas this week to dialogue) said he expected Bush to press the prince about whether his government endorses the cold-blooded anti-Jewish statements of Sheik al-Sudais. "My hope is the president will ask it. And if not, that members of the press will." However Rabbi Yoffie, who had not received a reply from Abdullah at press time, said he hoped to ask the prince himself about the rhetoric, which he called "totally and completely abhorrent." "That's the first thing we would raise. I would tell him that [al-Sudais'] views are detestable and contrary to all religious beliefs, including Islam, and I would ask the crown prince if they represent the official views of his government. If the answer is yes, then there's nothing else to talk about." In his April 18 invitation, Rabbi Yoffie said a meeting "could highlight the positive role that religious leaders and traditions can play in overcoming the great distance that exists between the Arab nations and the Jewish people." Responding to critics who say he shouldn't meet with Prince Abdullah under any circumstances, Rabbi Yoffie said the Saudis are "a strategically important part of the Middle East political equation." "My own sense is that we need to talk to him in the name of the largest Jewish religious organization in North America." A spokesman for the National Security Council told The Jewish Week Monday that he was "sure" that Bush would reinforce to the prince the need to "end the incitement of Arab populations against Israel and the Jewish faith." When asked about al-Sudais' anti-Jewish sermon, Adel Al-Jubeir, a foreign policy adviser to Prince Abdullah, told NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday: "You have a lot of anger and a lot of frustration in the Arab and in the Muslim world at the peace process and the lack of movement. They see images of Palestinian children being shot, they see images of refugees being encircled in camps, they see the destruction and they see violence and what they perceive to be inaction by the United States. And they get angry, and it reflects itself in statements such as this. "If there were a seriousness on the Israeli side in terms of a commitment to withdraw from all of the territories, I think the peace process would pick up, and we wouldn't have to listen to views like this." Meanwhile, a prominent American Islamic jurist said that Islamic fundamentalists (like the followers of Wahhabism practiced in Saudi Arabia) have rejected the historical Islamic notion of religious tolerance of other religions. 
"In one full sweep, they have demolished the richness of [Islamic] theology," said Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, acting professor of law at UCLA. "While there was [religious] tolerance earlier in Islam, now that license is revoked forever," by the Islamic extremists. 
El Fadl, a noted expert on Islamic law known as a moderate and critic of Wahhabi Islam, also denounced the threats and intimidation of moderate Muslims by the extremists. 
He spoke this week at a two-day conference at Yeshiva University's Cardozo Law School on Tolerance and Fundamentalism after Sept. 11. 
The law professor panelists included Georgetown University's Father Robert Drinan and Cardozo's Rabbi David Bleich and Marci Hamilton.

Last Update:

12/09/2009 - 10:26

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