Condemning an entire nation & two Abrahamic faithsI hate writing on Arab-Israeli issues. I’m a Pakistani-born Aussie who thinks carving out a state based on ethno-religious identity is pretty cool, especially given we “Pakis” had a 9-month head-start on Israel.
But prominent Australian Jewish leader Isi Leibler’s letter to the Review section of The Weekend Australian (August 5-6 2006) made me sick in the stomach. The letter defends Leibler’s thesis (published some months back in the Jerusalem Post) that Palestinians today are no better than Germans were during the Nazi period.
Leibler claims Palestinian society’s “central pillars – culture, religion and education – have been based on the worship of death and the sanctification of the murder of Jews”. It’s hard to imagine a worse time for a prominent Jewish leader to make such inflammatory remarks.
One Catholic member of the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims some 6% of Palestinians are Christians. Their influence in Palestinian politics and culture far outweighs their numbers. Palestinian (indeed all forms of) Christianity insists salvation is based on belief in the resurrected Christ, a far cry from teaching followers to worship death.
Muslims also don’t worship death. The Prophet Muhammad taught the first to enter hell would be one who died a martyr’s death simply to earn a martyr’s reputation. Suicide is strictly forbidden, and Sydney tabloid columnist Piers Akerman still hasn’t answered my e-mail from 12 months back in which I ask him to produce Koran’s verses mentioning the martyr’s 72 heavenly virgins.
Nor is anti-Semitism a central feature of either faith-community, notwithstanding what the words of Sheik Hilali or Mel Gibson might otherwise suggest.
The first education minister of the democratically elected PA government was Dr Hanan Ashrawi, a practising Anglican and recipient of the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize. Leibler accuses the PA of developing a curriculum that “has brainwashed an entire generation towards accepting the murder of Jews as a supreme religious and national objective.”
So we have a prominent Jewish leader casting murderous aspersions on an entire nation and on two major faiths. If this is how Mr Leibler wants to build bridges for Aussie Jews in Aussie Christian and Muslim communities, he’d best stay in Jerusalem.
© Irfan Yusuf 2006