Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two More Counties Heard From

A few days ago, I caught an article whose title, I thought, was "Justice Stevens Urges Tolerance." Today, as I looked for the article to post it here, every reprint of the article had the title "Justice Stevens Voices Support for NYC Mosque" ( It's the same article reprinted everywhere, but it seems as if the headline has changed to emphasize the controversial nature of the topic. But it's also possible that I remember the headline incorrectly.

But what got me thinking about this article again was attending the opening night presentation of the San Diego Jewish Book Fair (at which I will be speaking next week). The featured speaker was Mosad Hassan Yousef, speaking on what I had hoped would be a very enlightening subject: How he, the son of the man who founded Hamas, which has repeated done everything possible to derail any progress toward Middle East peace, had been raised to be a terrorist, but had a change of heart. He was with us to be interviewed about what led to his change of heart, and what his life has been like since then. (Sorry to report that it wasn't a very enlightening interview -- it didn't get to the meaty questions, but perhaps that was a matter of the speaker not being fully fluent in English or able to express himself as eloquently as I had hoped).

What surprised me, after his inspiring comments about tolerance, were two comments he made: 1) The we should oppose the Mosque near Ground Zero because it is a 'political' mosque, and 2) that the Koran is 'evil.' The latter is not an opinion I have ever heard expressed. I certainly have heard that the translations of the Koran vary, and that some encourage killing Jews, but this is the first time I have heard it referred to as 'evil.'

On the one hand, Mr, Yousef grew up with the Koran whereas I don't believe that anyone else speaking about its content has said so. On the other hand, I wonder whether it might be possible for someone to contend that the Hebrew Bible (aka The Old Testament) is 'evil,' too, because it also proscribes certain actions that, mercifully, we have learned not to obey to the letter -- things like stoning people. But I don't know enough about the Koran to know how accurate Mr. Yousef's statement is.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has some experience or information on this subject.

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