Saudi King for tolerance?

A full-page ad in today's (Tuesday) New York Times (page A17), and perhaps in other newspapers, heralds November 21-23 as a "Week of Twinning." Fifty American and Canadian synagogues and 50 mosques (listed) will supposedly "join together to confront Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in their communities."

A photo at the ad's top shows a group of rabbis and imams, and a smaller photo headed "King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia," a little further down the page depicts that monarch chummily posed with Rabbi Arthur Schneier and the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.

Many little Muslim children -- especially Palestinians -- are taught from their earliest years on to hate Jews. The Internet is filled with clips of the most atrocious hatemongering material aimed at youngsters. Saudi Arabia is perhaps the world's largest financial sponsor of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism -- and here are these pie-in-the-sky rabbis thinking that a little bit of social intercourse will reverse all that is being taught worldwide in the Muslim ummah with Saudi funding.

Unfortunately, a sufficiently large portion of the Muslim population, especially in the Arab countries and Iran, have been able -- both by rhetoric and by terrorism -- to maintain an extreme of hostility between Israel and her supporters and the Palestinians, as well as various Islamic states.

Surely these rabbis and imams mean well; but they are facing a very intractable problem and deep sores that have been festering for generations. I cannot see how their cause will be advanced by putting it under the wing of King Abdullah, head of arguably the least moderate of all the Middle Eastern states, and whose broadly trumpeted "peace initiative" itself contains provisions that would assure the eventual death of Israel as a Jewish State.

Writing in an op-ed entitled "The Saudis' Sham" in the New York Post this morning, Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a think tank in Washington, DC, focused on the Persian Gulf countries, notes:

SEVERAL Middle Eastern and world leaders will meet in New York this week under United Nations auspices to discuss the world state of religious freedom.

The meeting -- part of an initiative of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on religious dialogue -- is controversial. Abdullah, an authoritarian ruler, leads one of the most (if not the most) religiously oppressive regimes, which has amply earned its nickname "The Kingdom of Hatred."

And he concludes by pointing out that:

Allowing the current public-relations exercise to proceed will send the Middle East governments the wrong message - that religious oppression at home will be tolerated as long as the regimes pay periodic lip service to religious tolerance abroad.

It seems to me that it is the ultimate in sheer foolishness to pretend that Jews can lie down with the King of a land which does not even allow Judaism or Christianity to be practiced within its borders and expect to get up in the radiance of harmony, brotherly love, and peace.

Once upon a time Menachem Begin did manage to come to a rational agreement with Anwar Sadat which has led to a lasting, if somewhat uneasy, peace between their countries -- a bold act of statesmanship for which Sadat was eventually assassinated. If there is to be a broader peace of a lasting and real nature between Israel and the Muslim nations, it will require an equally courageous partner on the Muslim side; and it is hard to picture King Abdullah as being that man.
A full-page ad in today's (Tuesday) New York Times (page A17), and perhaps in other newspapers, heralds November 21-23 as a "Week of Twinning." Fifty American and Canadian synagogues and 50 mosques (listed) will supposedly "join together to confront Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in their communities."

A photo at the ad's top shows a group of rabbis and imams, and a smaller photo headed "King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia," a little further down the page depicts that monarch chummily posed with Rabbi Arthur Schneier and the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.

Many little Muslim children -- especially Palestinians -- are taught from their earliest years on to hate Jews. The Internet is filled with clips of the most atrocious hatemongering material aimed at youngsters. Saudi Arabia is perhaps the world's largest financial sponsor of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism -- and here are these pie-in-the-sky rabbis thinking that a little bit of social intercourse will reverse all that is being taught worldwide in the Muslim ummah with Saudi funding.

Unfortunately, a sufficiently large portion of the Muslim population, especially in the Arab countries and Iran, have been able -- both by rhetoric and by terrorism -- to maintain an extreme of hostility between Israel and her supporters and the Palestinians, as well as various Islamic states.

Surely these rabbis and imams mean well; but they are facing a very intractable problem and deep sores that have been festering for generations. I cannot see how their cause will be advanced by putting it under the wing of King Abdullah, head of arguably the least moderate of all the Middle Eastern states, and whose broadly trumpeted "peace initiative" itself contains provisions that would assure the eventual death of Israel as a Jewish State.

Writing in an op-ed entitled "The Saudis' Sham" in the New York Post this morning, Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a think tank in Washington, DC, focused on the Persian Gulf countries, notes:

SEVERAL Middle Eastern and world leaders will meet in New York this week under United Nations auspices to discuss the world state of religious freedom.

The meeting -- part of an initiative of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on religious dialogue -- is controversial. Abdullah, an authoritarian ruler, leads one of the most (if not the most) religiously oppressive regimes, which has amply earned its nickname "The Kingdom of Hatred."

And he concludes by pointing out that:

Allowing the current public-relations exercise to proceed will send the Middle East governments the wrong message - that religious oppression at home will be tolerated as long as the regimes pay periodic lip service to religious tolerance abroad.

It seems to me that it is the ultimate in sheer foolishness to pretend that Jews can lie down with the King of a land which does not even allow Judaism or Christianity to be practiced within its borders and expect to get up in the radiance of harmony, brotherly love, and peace.

Once upon a time Menachem Begin did manage to come to a rational agreement with Anwar Sadat which has led to a lasting, if somewhat uneasy, peace between their countries -- a bold act of statesmanship for which Sadat was eventually assassinated. If there is to be a broader peace of a lasting and real nature between Israel and the Muslim nations, it will require an equally courageous partner on the Muslim side; and it is hard to picture King Abdullah as being that man.