As history and tradition teaches us, Jews and Muslims are “children of Abraham” and in certain periods of history have enjoyed a harmonious coexistence. Tragically in the 20th Century and 21st Century, the events have turned ugly and are going from bad to worse. In the shocking and painful video I posted several weeks ago, Mr. Morsi is repeating a statement used quite frequently in the Islamic world, “the Jews are descendants of apes and pigs.” The most shocking message is to teach your children to hate Jews, and Morsi repeats it twice.
As a holocaust survivor, Morsi’s message takes me back to the 1930s when the same language of hate was used by Hitler’s propagandists, Streicher and Goebels. If the Bible and the Koran say that we are all children of Abraham, how can Jews be described as apes and pigs? This is the premise of this blog: hate blinds, hate corrodes the soul, hateful words lead to hateful acts and hateful acts lead to atrocities.
Fortunately, not everyone in Egyptian society agrees with Morsi. This video has been widely viewed and debated in the Egyptian press, and others are speaking out against the sentiments that Morsi expresses. Thomas Friedman highlights one such voice in a New York Times article titled “Backlash to the Backlash” from September 26, 2012:
“The Egyptian comedian, Bassem Youssef, wrote in Al Shorouk, translated by Memri, on Sept. 23: “We demand that the world respect our feelings, yet we do not respect the feelings of others. We scream blue murder when they outlaw the niqab in some European country or prevent [Muslims] from building minarets in another [European] country – even though these countries continue to allow freedom of religion, as manifest in the building of mosques and in the preaching [activity] that takes place in their courtyards. Yet, in our countries, we do not allow others to publicly preach their beliefs. Maybe we should examine ourselves before [criticizing] others.”
The emergence of voices questioning the conventional wisdom in Egyptian society is a new phenomenon. I am hopeful that this will not remain an infrequent event, and that others will join the lonely voices currently speaking out against hateful speech.