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February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘speech’

Parshat Bereishit

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

With the campaigns for the presidency of the United States in full swing people are beginning to imagine the inaugural address that will be delivered this coming January 20. Especially this year, when the candidates offer such different visions for America, rhetoric enthusiasts are expecting whoever wins to deliver an inspiring speech designed to provide a strategy and game plan for the country to move forward.

The challenge for all modern presidents when they deliver their inaugural address is that they are inevitably compared to John F. Kennedy’s classic. As history has so far demonstrated, unlike Olympic records, Kennedy’s address has to date not been surpassed. While most people remember his “Ask not…” exhortation, I would like to focus on a sentence from the beginning of his speech – a sentence infused, simultaneously, with the deep hope and fear that was the product of years of thought and concern on Kennedy’s part.

After his salutary comments, Kennedy described: “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” Kennedy truly feared the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons. In his announcement in 1946 that he would be running for Congress, Kennedy stated, “We have a world which has unleashed the powers of atomic energy. We have a world capable of destroying itself.”

According to Richard Tofel, in his book analyzing Kennedy’s inaugural address, Sounding the Trumpet (2005), JFK contemplated for many years whether democracy as an ideology and way of life would be able to survive the challenges of totalitarianism. “With the advent of nuclear weapons, this uncertainty took on apocalyptic overtones…” (p.95). In his 1958 speech to Washington’s Gridiron Club, Kennedy articulated his concerns very clearly. “The question is—whether a democratic society—with its freedom of choice—its breadth of opportunity—its range of alternatives—can meet the single-minded advance of the Communists….Can a nation organized and governed as ours endure? That is the real question. Have we the nerve and the will? Have we got what it takes to carry through in an age where—as never before—our very survival is at stake—where we and the Russians have the power to destroy one-quarter of the earth’s population—a feat not accomplished since Cain slew Abel?”

By the time he delivered his inaugural address Kennedy’s thoughts had developed and he challenged humanity to overcome the man-made threats to the world. The problem was whether the technology had outpaced its moral masters. While Kennedy in 1958 referred to Cain murdering his brother as a dire warning of the stakes at play, one of the broad themes of this week’s parsha captures the essence of the challenge. There are inherent dangers in knowledge when it is used inappropriately – without the metaphoric brakes being there to pace the engine of progress properly.

The Torah relates (2:17) that G-d granted Adam permission to enjoy all the bounty of the Garden of Eden with the exception of the Tree of Knowledge. The commentators throughout the centuries have analyzed the reason for this prohibition. Whatever the actual reason was, it is indisputable that after Adam and Eve ate from the tree, the world was never the same. Not only did death become part of nature’s course, the very knowledge attained through the act of eating hastened the process.

Carefully examining the events which followed Adam and Eve’s sin it becomes clear that they share a common theme. While human beings made tremendous discoveries, invented life-changing technologies and developed an appreciation for the arts, they did so without moral restraint. Rashi explains (4:20) that Yaval, who is credited with technological advances, adapted his engineering technology to build temples for idolatry. Likewise, his brother Yuval, who is credited with inventing musical instruments, did so for idolatrous purposes. Their cousin Tuval Cain, who invented metallurgy, did so in order to provide weapons for murderers.

All three played critical roles in the advancement of human development. Their efforts would probably earn them a Nobel Prize today. But when Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge he lost for his children the moral restraints necessary to control knowledge. His descendants used their knowledge for nefarious purposes and helped plant the seeds for the world’s destruction. Not until Noach do we encounter a person who used knowledge in a controlled manner, developing useful agricultural tools and methods. His name derives from the Hebrew word for consolation, for he truly improved the human condition. Unlike the other inventors in the parsha, Noach had no ulterior motives. His was solely to help humankind. Tragically, as we’ll read in next week’s parsha, his efforts were too little, too late to save the world. They were, however, enough to start the world anew.

Cory Booker & Shmuley Boteach: The Rabbi and the Rhodes Scholar (Video)

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Twenty years ago this Monday, corresponding to the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah, a young African-American Rhodes scholar walked into a Chabad Jewish student center in Oxford, England. He had had a date with a Jewish woman who told him she was going to be at the Sukkot festivities at Rabbi Shmuley’s and would meet him there. As it turned out, he was stood up, and as he waited sheepishly in the corner of the room not knowing what to do next, he was approached by the Rabbi’s wife who invited him to sit in ‘the hot-seat’ next to the young Chabad Rabbi. Being the most joyous night of the Jewish calendar, the young student would later join with hundreds of other students dancing with the Torahs. This accidental meeting would change both their lives.

Cory Booker had little exposure to the Jewish community prior to that evening and I, who was serving as the Rabbi to the students of Oxford University, had only sporadic exposure to the African-American community. But in the days, weeks, and months that followed we began studying together almost daily. We studied the great texts of Judaism and discussed the great speeches of African-American leaders. Cory would later serve a full term as President of our Jewish student organization, which was then the second largest student group at the University with thousands of members. Together we hosted luminaries like Mikhail Gorbachev and other world leaders who lectured on values-based leadership.

Twenty years, countless conversations, and hundreds of Friday night Shabbat dinners later, Cory today is a much-loved honorary member of the American Jewish community, regularly lecturing at Synagogues and Jewish conferences across the country. More significant, Cory has challenged the Jewish community to live up to its Biblical calling to serve as ‘a light unto the nations.’ In many of the speeches we deliver together he asks the Jewish participants if they study the weekly Parsha, if they honor the commandments, and cherish the Sabbath. What allows an African-American Christian Mayor to challenge Jewish leaders to deepen their Jewish commitment? Because those same leaders are amazed at Cory’s knowledge of Judaism and appreciation of the Jewish contribution to civilization.

I have long believed that the next wave of Jewish commitment will be inspired by non-Jews. In massive conferences like Christians United For Israel we are already seeing a great wave of Christian interest in Judaism and a desire to reconnect Jesus back to his Jewish roots. But Cory has taken this a step further, studying Judaism with a view to teaching it to Jews.

A few years ago AIPAC invited Cory and me to address a large group in Chicago. It was the week where we read the story of Genesis in Synagogue and Cory delivered a moving speech on the creation of Adam and Eve, culled from a speech by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The wife of a prominent American Jewish leader approached me after the speech and asked if I would study the Parsha of the week with her, as I do with Cory. I asked her why now. She responded, “When you hear someone so prominent in the American political landscape deriving inspiration from the Torah, and he’s not even Jewish, you become a little embarrassed that you are ignorant of your tradition and you want to discover what he has discovered.” I have heard similar sentiments expressed by other Jewish listeners on many occasions.

My friendship with Cory also sparked a lifelong closeness between me and the African-American community. I became the first-ever white morning radio host on America’s legacy black radio station, WWRL in New York City. I took the Rev. Al Sharpton to Israel to alleviate the enmity between him and the Jewish community, I was the driving force behind an effort to have 600 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina find permanent homes in Utah where they have been moved only temporarily, and I preached at the Martin Luther King chapel at Morehouse College at a conference with Coretta Scott King. And as part of my current run for Congress in New Jersey, I travelled to Rwanda to highlight the 1994 genocide and help combat efforts to deny it. The Rwandan government invited me to meet President Paul Kagame in New York last week and I hosted a reception for Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo with American Jewish leaders.

There are those who believe that the black and Jewish communities share a common history of persecution. But being among the world’s foremost victims is not the basis of our bond. The relationship between blacks and Jews is built on shared faith rather than shared oppression, common destiny rather than common history, shared values rather than shared interests, and a mutual commitment to social justice rather than a mutual alienation from the mainstream.

I thank God for a friendship that has endured for two decades and the enrichment it has brought to us and our respective communities.

Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Each year, amid the ebullient joy manifest during the holiday of Sukkot, we read the megillah of Kohelet. With its realistic perspective on the world, Kohelet provides us with the means to not only properly calibrate our joy, but to accurately understand the role of joy and happiness in the world.

The Gemara in Mesechet Shabbat (30b) relates that the rabbis feared people would misunderstand the true message of Kohelet due to its seemingly contradictory aphorisms. To prevent the dangers inherent in such misunderstandings, Chazal considered removing the megillah from circulation. Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook explains that it wasn’t that Chazal doubted the holiness and importance of Kohelet. Rather, they were concerned that, due to its complex nature, people would fail to understand its true message and be misled by their own misunderstanding.

The Gemara describes how Chazal ultimately kept Kohelet in circulation because it both begins and concludes with the ideas of the centrality of Torah and Yirat Shamayim. People would question any interpretation that undermined these ideas. Armed with this reality, the Gemara quotes several examples from rabbanim who resolved some of the apparent contradictions, thus demonstrating that with study all of the contradictions could be resolved.

Thousands of years after Shlomo HaMelech wrote Kohelet its message still resonates with us. Like all sifrei Tanach, Kohelet not only spoke to the generation of its writing, but continues to speak its universal message to all generations.

In history, the truly great works and speeches are those that proved not only relevant to their contemporary audiences but have continued to inspire future generations as well. A classic example of such a speech is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address delivered on November 19, 1863. Among the most interesting factoids regarding this speech is that it was not the main speech. The official oration was delivered by the nation’s leading orator of the day, Edward Everett. Lincoln, as President of the United States, was invited almost as an afterthought to what was perceived as a state, not federal, affair.

Everett prepared extensively for his speech. In fact, the dedication of the cemetery was delayed nearly a month because Everett needed more time for his preparation. On the day of the dedication Everett spoke before Lincoln. And speak he did—his speech lasted for two hours, which was the norm for public orations at the time. Everett’s job was to explain what happened during the battle. He explained the significance of the battle in the context of the broader campaign and overall war. His oration “Was like a modern docudrama on television, telling the story of recent events on the basis of investigative reporting” (The Smithsonian Collection Edition: The Ultimate Guide to the Civil War, “From These Honored Dead” by Garry Wills, p. 84). By all accounts Everett did an outstanding job. His oration was well-received and had accomplished its set goals.

Following Everett, Lincoln stood up with his sheet or two of paper. Lincoln understood the moment as well. He had been looking for an occasion to lay out his war aims and give meaning to the war. The fact that so many state governors and other notables would be at Gettysburg that day convinced Lincoln of the importance of the opportunity. With a mere 270 words Lincoln proceeded to ensoul the war through the departed souls of the soldiers. Lincoln also set out to change how people viewed the Constitution and the purpose of the country. “Everett succeeded with his audience by being thoroughly immersed in the detail of the event he was celebrating. Lincoln eschewed all local emphasis. His speech hovered far above the carnage…Lincoln was after an even larger game—he meant to ‘win’ the whole Civil War in ideological terms as well as military ones. And he succeeded: The Civil War is, to most Americans, what Lincoln wanted it to mean” (p.85).

After the Gettysburg Address the Civil War was no longer a war about slavery or states’ rights. It became, as Lincoln framed it, a far loftier war, imbued with universal and perennial significance as to whether: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

To write and deliver a speech that transcends its local time and place requires a leader who not only understands what his immediate constituents need, but one who has universal and long-term goals. Without local vision the leader’s speech and comments will seem meaningless to the immediate audience. Without the vision to see the universal in the local and the future in the immediate, the speech, no matter how important to the local audience, will remain a citizen of its original time and place.

MTA Sneaks In Free Speech Restrictions, Bypassing Court Ruling Favoring Anti-Jihad Ad

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

In what many, including legal scholar Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, call “unconstitutional” restrictions on free speech, the board of the New York City Transportation Authority unanimously passed a new set of regulations governing the kinds of advertisements it will accept. The MTA is now empowered to ban any ad the  MTA

reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.

The new regulations also require disclaimers to be included in any political, religious or morality-based ads, stating  that they do not represent the views of the MTA.

These new regulations were announced on Thursday, September 27, just three days after the American Freedom Defense Initiative ads were put up after a lengthy and costly court battle brought by AFDI and its executive and associate directors, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, to enforce their First Amendment right to free speech.  That ad appears in 10 subway stations in the New York subway system.  It reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”

The spokesman for the MTA, Aaron Donovan, admitted to a reporter from The Blaze that the changes came in response to AFDI’s anti-Jihad ads and the ensuing litigation.

Initial reports were that commuters were passing by the ads without any noticeable responses, but apparently there were complaints that instilled fear in MTA board members.

There was at least one widely publicized attack against the ad, engaged in by Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy. That attack was motivated by the woman, who has only been a U.S. citizen for one year.  Eltahawy claimed that her acts of criminal vandalism, which were caught on videotape by The New York Post, were legitimate acts of free speech and non-violent protest.

Eltahawy was arrested and charged with various offenses.  When she was released from prison the next day, Eltahawy was critical of her time in jail.  However, Eltahawy  neglected to mention that when she was detained by Egyptian police during the Arab Spring uprisings, her arm and her wrist were broken and she claimed the police repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her.

The newly-elected Egyptian president, former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, instructed the Egyptian Consul General, Zousef Zada, to monitor Eltahawy’s case.

The New York Times reported on the new restrictions, without any comment regarding the potentially unconstitutional regulations.

Instead, the venerable leader against the assault on the First Amendment – The New York Times - merely reported the outlandish statements made at a press conference announcing the changes, by the MTA chairman, Joseph J. Lhota.   “We’ve gotten to the point where we needed to take action today,” Lhota said, in what must have been a reference to anger directed at the anti-Jihad ads, “You deal with a free speech issue with more free speech.”   Like Eltahawy, Lhota appears to believe that free speech includes official action taken to restrict free speech.

The MTA may hope it has avoided a First Amendment challenge because its restriction is “viewpoint neutral.” This is because the new regulation does not overtly single out any special group or groups for special treatment, which was the fatal flaw pointed out by Judge Englemayer in his July 20 ruling which forced the MTA to finally post them, after a year-long delay caused by their rejection of that ad on grounds determined to be unconstitutional.

The new restriction is sure to inspire potent legal challenges on other constitutional grounds.  For example, can one “reasonably foresee” what kind of ad will “incite violence” or a “breach of the peace”?  A legal challenge on numerous grounds should be anticipated, as predicted by Dershowitz in an interview with The Algemeinerin which he referred to the new rules as not only “unconstitutional,” but also “plain dumb.”

And to argue that ads, such as the anti-Jihad ones, will incite violence, whereas the pro-Israel ones would not, because they did not, might lead to an argument underscoring the point of Geller’s ads. That ads perceived by Muslims, to be anti-Muslim, such that they justify violence, could conceivably be used to prove that Muslims are unable to tolerate First Amendment norms in the same way as do other ethnic groups.  And that argument itself might, under this theory, incite violence.

Egyptian Reporter Defaces Subway ‘Anti-Savage’ Ad, Sprays an Opponent, Gets Arrested (Video)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Mona Eltahawy is an extremely well-spoken, Egyptian-American journalist who has become the g0-to speaker for comments on the Middle East in general, and on Egypt and Women’s issues in particular.  A speaker who stays on message no matter what is being asked, Eltahawy’s theme is: former Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak and those who supported him are always bad, Muslims seeking to control their own destiny are always good and should be supported in the name of freedom and democracy, no matter how reprehensible their actions. Over the past few years Eltahawy has regularly been represented as an expert on such media outlets as CNN, the Guardian (UK), The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Eltahawy was arrested Wednesday evening, September 26, in a New York City subway station because she insisted free speech included her right to deface an ad espousing a message with which she disagreed – Pamela Geller’s anti-Jihad ad discussed and shown here.  She also insisted her free speech right extended to spraying toxic paint on a woman, Pamela Hall, who tried to interfere with Eltahawy’s efforts to deface Geller’s ad.  And then Eltahawy blamed Hall for interfering with her free speech rights and accused the arresting police officers of interfering with her “non-violent” protest, thereby engaging in anti-democratic activity.

It appears Eltahawy has a singularly self-focused understanding of freedom and democracy.  Given her limitations, it is problematic that so many media outlets rely on Eltahawy as an “expert.”  It is possible that given her criminal activity Wednesday evening, some will see her convoluted views of reality as casting doubts on past Eltahawy discourses.

The journalist’s inability to recognize why her activity was criminal and subverted the First Amendment, simply because Geller’s anti-Jihad ad constituted speech with which she didn’t agree, is telling.

But this isn’t the first time Eltahawy’s view of reality has been refracted through her own, narrow prism.

Eltahawy is best known for being an ardent activist for women’s rights, a dangerous and valiant effort for a Muslim.  She has written about the enormously high percentage of women who have been sexually assaulted in Egypt, as many as 80 percent, and that four out of five Egyptian women have reported being sexually assaulted.

Although Eltahawy has been highly critical and very vocal about the subjugation of women under Islam, when that view bumps up against her global recognition as an articulate spokesperson for the revolutionary Arab Spring, a disconnect takes place.

In the context of the anti-Jihad ads which she defaced, Eltahawy expressed outrage over the use of the term “savage,” to describe Jihadi activity.  In her view, the use of the word savage was an insult because she interpreted it to refer to all Muslims.  While defacing the ad, she told Hall, who tried to prevent the ad from being damaged, that she was protesting racism, and that Hall was defending racism.

But Eltahawy described Muslims who sexually assaulted and beat her last winter as a “pack of wild animals.”  So, was her anger over the use of the term savage, when she described wild, violent Muslims as “wild animals” hypocritical?  Not necessarily, because her criticism of the Egyptian police is consistent with her world view.  There were numerous reports of women assaulted by the civilian crowds, the revolutionaries, in Tahrir Square, during the Arab spring.  And it is in commenting on those assaults that Eltahawy’s hypocrisy is made clear.

Perhaps the best known, to western audiences, of sexual assaults by the Arab spring activists, is the assault on CBS’s Lara Logan.  Logan was brutally physically and sexually assaulted by those demonstrating in Tahrir Square crowds in February, 2011.

When Eltahawy was asked to comment on CTV News on the attacks on Logan, she “unequivocally condemned” the violence experienced by Logan.  However, the focus of her ire was always pointed back at the Mubarak regime, which was, she said, “known for targetting women.”

Eltahawy even went so far as to insinuate that Logan’s story was in some ways questionable, or at least an anomaly.  She also deflected the responsibility for the attack on unnamed others.

“Women I know said it was the safest area in Cairo,” Eltahawy said of Tahrir Square during the demonstrations.  But after Mubarak, the area was “open to all, so we don’t know who else was there.”

Pamela Hall is pressing charges against Eltahawy.  Her clothing and her bags were damaged by the paint.  When reached by The Jewish Press, Hall said she knew who Eltahawy was as soon as she saw her, but she was “surprised” to see her spray painting the ad.

According to Hall, using “paint is a much more serious act than slapping a sticker up and walking away.  What was she thinking?”

Obama at the UN: A Speech That Has Nothing to Do with Either his Policies or the Real Middle East

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

President Barack Obama’s speech is a fascinating document. The theme is this: absolutely nothing can go wrong with political change in the Middle East and that the United States helps moderate forces, defined as anyone who isn’t actively trying to kill Americans. The fact that some-to-many of those revolutionary forces favor killing Americans is outside his purview. And the fact that his policy has supported militantly anti-democratic groups far more than the (far weaker) moderate ones is airbrushed away.

That’s not to say there weren’t good-sounding formulations in his speech. Either due to a learning process, the impact of events, or–most likely–the immediacy of an American presidential election to whose voters he is actually addressing himself—you decide—Obama hit some of the right notes also. The problem is the isolation of this soaring rhetoric from his actual policies. That’s what’s important here, not the discussion about the video and its relationship to the rioting which has drawn literally all of the attention in analyzing the speech.

By the way, what’s really amazing, but no one has noted, is that almost every word of the speech could have been given by President George W. Bush. Obama has totally accepted the dangerous “neo-conservative” approach to the region despite the fact that this label makes his supporters foam at the mouth.

In basic terms, Obama urged the world to support the good people and not the bad people. Why should the U.S. ambassador to Libya be killed? After all, Obama claims, “He supported the birth of a new democracy” and was allegedly in Benghazi to review plans for a new cultural center and a modernized hospital. “Chris was killed in the city he helped to save,” said the president. Yet the most powerful force in the Middle East views his actions not as saving the city but as delivering it to U.S. control.

The anti-American riots were “an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded – the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens….Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.”

That passage is unintentionally funny. After all, for decades violence and intolerance has been central at the U.N. and this will continue to be true. Indeed, the Obama Administration has supported many of these forces of violence and intolerance or, in other places, not stood up to them. After all, the minister of railroads in Pakistan, a country which has received billions in aid by the Obama Administration, has just offered a reward for murdering an American citizen without fear of any consequences for his regime. Amidst a thousand other examples that gives a sense of the reality of the contemporary situation compared to Obama’s rhetoric.

Obama says that the United States “has supported the forces of change” in the Arab Spring. But he does not evaluate these forces. The old regimes were tyrannical but what will replace them? Well, to prove he doesn’t comprehend there is a serious battle within the “forces of change” Obama could actually say:

We again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin.

A new dawn? Almost a century ago, revolutionaries were overthrowing the czar, widely viewed in the West as the world’s worst tyrant, and it was assumed that whatever happened would mark the beginning of a new dawn. Thirty years ago, those assumptions were repeated with Iran, where the world’s worst tyrant was supposedly being overthrown and the result had to be a “new dawn.” Each of these events generated massive sufferings and several wars.

The implication is that Obama believes that all change is good; that nothing can be worse in the region. This is a very dangerous conclusion, especially about the Middle East. It is not a strategy but merely a tossing of the dice in a casino where the dice are very crooked indeed.

Mocking Muhammad Is Not Hate Speech

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

To stop Islamist violence over perceived insults to Muhammad, I argued in a FoxNews.com article on Friday [also republished on the JewishPress.com], editors and producers daily should display cartoons of Muhammad “until the Islamists get used to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”

This appeal prompted a solemn reply from Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim website, who deemed it “irresponsible and beyond the pale.” Why so? Because, as she puts it, “The solution to escalating violence and hate speech is not more hate speech.”

Hate speech, legal authorities agree, involves words directed against a category of persons. Here’s a typical definition, from USLegal.com: “incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like.”That sounds sensible enough. But does mocking Muhammad, burning a Koran, or calling Islam a cult constitute hate speech? And what about the respectful representations of Muhammad in the buildings of the U.S. Supreme Court or the New York State Supreme Court? Even they caused upset and rioting.

Attacking the sanctities of a religion, I submit, is quite unlike targeting the faithful of that religion. The former is protected speech, part of the give and take of the market place of ideas, not all of which are pretty. Freedom of speech means the freedom to insult and be obnoxious. So long as it does not include incitement or information that urges criminal action, nastiness is an essential part of our heritage.

On a personal note, I have had to learn to live with torrents of vulgar venom, in speech and in pictures alike, from those who disagree with me; you don’t hear me whining about it. More broadly, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and other faith communities in the West have learned since the Enlightenment to endure vicious lacerations on their symbols and doctrines.

If proof be needed, recall Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, Andres Serrano’s Piss Christi, and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary. Or the avalanche of antisemitic cartoons spewing from Muslims.

For an over-the-top recent example, The Onion humor website published a cartoon under the heading, “No One Murdered Because of This Image.” It shows Moses, Jesus, Ganesha, and Buddha in the clouds, engaged in what the caption delicately understates as “a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity.” As the Onion mock-reportingly but accurately goes on, “Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”

I asked for the cartoons to be published again and again to establish that Islamists must not chip away at the freedom to mock and insult by hiding behind bogus claims of incitement. Name an instance, Ms Musaji, when biting remarks about Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam have led to riots and murders by non-Muslims against Muslims?

I cannot think of a single one.

When attacks on Muslims take place, they occur in response to terrorism by Muslims; that’s no excuse, to be sure, but it does indicate that violence against Muslims has no connection with lampooning Muhammad or desecrating Korans. Muslims need to grow thick skins like everyone else; this is one of the by-products of globalization. The insulation of old is gone for good.

To make matters worse, Islamists tell us Be Careful with Muhammad! and threaten those with the temerity to discuss, draw, or even pretend to draw the prophet of Islam, even as they freely disparage and insult other religions. I can cite many examples of actors, satirists, artists, cartoonists, writers, editors, publishers, ombudsmen, and others openly admitting their intimidation about discussing Islamic topics, a problem even Ms. Musaji herself has acknowledged.

To cool the temperature, Muslims can take two steps: end terrorism and stop the rioting over cartoons and novels. That will cause the antagonism toward Islam built up over the past decade to subside. At that point, I will happily retract my appeal to editors and producers to flaunt offensive cartoons of Muhammad.

Originally published at Foxnews.com on Sept. 24, 2012. See also Danielpipes.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/mocking-muhammad-is-not-hate-speech/2012/09/27/

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