STATEMENT OF MARK J. PELAVIN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER OF REFORM JUDAISM
December 30, 1997
"We condemn the hateful vandalism of the Islamic star and crescent display at the Ellipse, between the White House and Washington Monument. The desecration of any religious group's symbols, prayer or place of worship is intolerable and weakens the climate of religious tolerance and freedom which we have fought so hard to secure in the United States."
"Just as disturbing as the physical desecration of the symbol were the outrageous comments made by M.T. Mehdi, president of the National Council on Islamic Affairs, who without citing any evidence immediately attributed the vandalism to "fundamentalist Jews or fundamentalist Christians." He went on to say, "The Nazis are the real founders of Israel. The real father of Israel is Hitler." How outrageous for Mehdi to use this hate crime against the Muslim community in order to attack another religious group. Words matter, and Mehdi's defamation is every bit as hurtful as the vandal's desecration.
"As the new year begins, we rededicate ourselves to combating hatred and bigotry wherever it appears, both in word and in deed."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.