Interfaith group slams caricatures

Reprinting the caricatures hurts Israeli Arabs' feelings, said Rabbi David Stav.

muslims praying 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
muslims praying 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A group of religious Zionist rabbis has said that Israeli media reprinting of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad oversteps the bounds of journalistic freedom. Reprinting the caricatures hurts Israeli Arabs' feelings, said Rabbi David Stav, one of the heads of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva and a Tzohar rabbi. "Freedom of speech does not include the right to hurt the feelings of another," said Stav, who represents a group of 14 Orthodox rabbis who belong to Kedem, an interfaith group that includes Muslim and Christian clerics. Other members are Baruch Gigi, one of the heads of Har Etzion Yeshiva in Alon Shvut, and Rabbi Shmuel Reiner of the Religious Kibbutz Movement. Kedem was established three years ago to foster dialogue among the three monotheistic religions. It champions causes dear to each side. Last week Kedem criticized police violence against settlers at Amona. Sheikh Kamel Rayan, former mayor of Kafr Bara, near Rosh Ha'ayin, also a member of Kedem, said he strongly opposed police violence even though he thought settlers' claims were illegitimate and that settlers themselves were instigators of war. "There is no justification for violence," said Rayan. "I knew that when police violence against Arabs was unleashed it was only a matter of time before Jews would become victims." Rayan said Kedem's rabbis and imams disagree 90 percent of the time. "They believe in Greater Israel and we believe in a Palestinian state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River," said Rayan. "But I respect the right of every single Jew to live in this land, to share this land with me, on condition that my own existence is not threatened." Rayan and other Muslim leaders asked Stav and the rabbis to protest the reprinting of the caricatures. "We were hurt like the rest of the Muslim world," said Rayan. "The caricature was a brutal assault on our religious symbols. It shows the shallowness of Israeli journalism. No one estimated how the reprinting hurt our feelings." Rayan also denounced Holocaust denial or other media attacks on Jews. "Publishing a picture of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler is just as bad as the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad," said Rayan, referring to a recent cartoon posted by AEL, a Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization that appeared on Saturday. Iran's biggest-selling newspaper has chosen to tackle the West's ideals of "freedom of expression" by launching a competition to find the 12 "best" cartoons about the Holocaust, the Agence French Press reported on Monday. Farid Mortazavi, graphics editor for Teheran's Hamshahri newspaper, said that the deliberately inflammatory contest would test how committed Europeans were to the concept of freedom of expression. "The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," he said.