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Reform Jewish Leader Praises Passage of House Bill Condemning Malaysian Prime Minister, Criticizes Anti-Muslim Statement of Pentagon Official

Saperstein: It is dangerous and wrong for any public individual to make remarks that perpetuate ethnic, religious or cultural stereotypes, exacerbating international tensions and hindering efforts to build bridges between nations and faiths.


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Alexis Rice or Zach Rosenberg 202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, October 31, 2003 - In response to yesterday's House passage of H.Res 409, condemning the recent anti-Semitic statements of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, and as a result of the recent anti-Muslim comments of Lt. General William Boykin, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The House of Representatives is to be commended for yesterday's passage of H.Res. 409, which condemns the anti-Semitic statements made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir at the recent meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. By supporting overwhelmingly this legislation, the House has spoken out against efforts by an international figure to sow divisions within our world.

In this same spirit, it is time for our leaders to speak out against those individuals within our own nation who preach intolerance and division. Last week's comments by Lt. General William Boykin, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and War-fighting, likening the war against Muslim terrorists to a war against Satan and characterizing the war on terror as a struggle between two religions, impede the process of maintaining and building peaceful relationships with Muslim and Arab nations. It is dangerous and wrong for any public individual to make remarks that perpetuate ethnic, religious or cultural stereotypes, exacerbating international tensions and hindering efforts to build bridges between nations and faiths.

We applaud the House of Representative's repudiation of Prime Minister Mahathir's hateful speech, and in that spirit call on our governmental leaders to be equally strong in clarifying that prejudicial speech has no place in American society and most certainly not in our government. Peace between nations, cultures and faiths is possible only when all nations embrace the diversity of religious beliefs that characterize our world.

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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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