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Reform Jewish Leader Applauds President Bush for Strongly Criticizing Malaysian Leader's Anti-Semitic Remarks

Saperstein: By directly and forcefully confronting Prime Minister Mahathir in person and declaring that the comments "stand squarely against what I believe," President Bush has set a powerful example to be followed by those around the globe who seek an end to terror.


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Alexis Rice or Zach Rosenberg 202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2003 - In response to President Bush's criticism of last week's anti-Semitic statements made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed at the meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We strongly applaud today's rebuke by President Bush of the anti-Semitic comments made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed during last week's meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Instead of using the occasion of the conference to inspire the Muslim community to unite against the forces of terror that have claimed so many lives, the Prime Minister called on Muslims to unite in an effort to achieve a "final victory" over the Jews. The Prime Minister's comments, perpetuating centuries-old anti-Semitic myths of Jewish world domination, fan the flames of hatred and do nothing to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East or around the world. Equally alarming was the response of the others in the room who, rather than distance themselves from such sentiments, overwhelmingly gave him a sustained ovation.

By directly and forcefully confronting Prime Minister Mahathir in person and declaring that the comments "stand squarely against what I believe," President Bush has set a powerful example to be followed by those around the globe who seek an end to terror. Only through a rejection of the voices of hatred and discord will we achieve peace. We applaud President Bush for his strong comments and urge other world leaders to join in his condemnation of Prime Minister Mahathir's shameful and dangerous remarks.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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