Groups Split on Cartoons

By Marc Perelman

Published March 03, 2006, issue of March 03, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The eruption of violent Islamic protests over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered a sharp debate between Jewish organizations over whether they should be speaking out about the crisis.

The American Jewish Committee sent a delegation of its leaders to Denmark, which has come under harsh condemnation in the Muslim world for not stopping the initial publication of the cartoons. Leaders at the AJCommittee couched their support as a defense of free speech, not of the cartoons themselves.

This week, following the Denmark trip, another organization, the American Jewish Congress, was urging a restrained approach in order to avoid playing into the accusations of Iran that Jews and Israel were behind the publication of the cartoons.

“What could Jews possibly gain by lending credence to antisemitic and lunatic ravings of the president of Iran (especially in the eyes of Muslims who are not committed to his effort to make everything into a Jewish or Zionist conspiracy) by taking a prominent role in defense of press freedom and Western ideas of pluralism and religious freedom?” wrote the general counsel of the AJCongress, Marc Stern, in an opinion essay in this week’s Forward (see front page). “The desire to do so, and the impulse not to sit idly by, may be admirable but, at least here, they are not wise.”

The argument drew a sharp rebuke from the executive director of the AJCommittee, David Harris, who led the mission to Denmark. “Actions speak louder than words,” Harris told the Forward. “Jews are kidding themselves if they think they can sit this one out…. Are we supposed to duck for cover when this erupts and embassies are torched? What’s next? This is an attempt to intimidate, and we have a stake in ensuring it does not succeed.”

In an obvious swipe at the AJCongress, he added, “Those organizations that have historically defended freedom of press and First Amendment privileges should be especially responsive to such threats.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that while Jewish organizations were not eager to become embroiled in the cartoon affair, they were eventually drawn into it when Muslim groups asked them for their position. Jewish groups, he said, also felt the need to speak up in response to the Iranian accusations that they were responsible for fomenting the trouble and the hypocrisy of Arab regimes that expressed outrage at the cartoons, while allowing their media to publish antisemitic articles and caricatures.






Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.