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Land, others call on Bush to denounce anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush has been urged to condemn the “growing specter” of anti-Semitism in a letter from seven Christian and conservative leaders.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and six others wrote in an April 25 letter to the president that the “scapegoating of the Jews” is again a “powerful element of world politics,” barely 50 years after Hitler’s Nazi government in Germany dissolved.

“It is increasingly heard at comfortable dinner party tables, on campuses, at the United Nations, in foreign ministries and in many other ‘respectable’ quarters,” the letter said. “In its starker form, it is now openly expressed in school textbooks, official newspapers and television broadcasts — often through libels identical to those employed by the Nazis.”

The letter writers said they know Bush “deeply believe[s] the libel of anti-Semitism to be one of the great lies of history.”

This latest expression “must be tirelessly and publicly denounced,” they wrote. “For this reason, we respectfully ask you to make clear that the United States will actively confront all leaders, countries and movements that finance or propagate the lie of anti-Semitism.

“There is no more important time than now to denounce the growing specter of anti-Semitism and to ensure that it is never again permitted to become a tolerable element of diplomatic, political, cultural or religious expression,” they wrote in the letter, on stationery of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Others signing the letter were Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice; Gary Bauer, president of American Values and former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination; Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Glenn Plummer, chief executive officer of the National Religious Broadcasters; Janet Parshall, a nationally syndicated Christian radio show host; and Keith Roderick, secretary general of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights.

Europe has been the site of attacks on Jews and synagogues, according to recent news reports. At least some have occurred in response to Israel’s military action against Palestinians in the wake of a wave of suicide bombings in the Jewish state. The letter cited three examples of the rising tide of anti-Semitism:

— A recent dinner party at which the French ambassador to England reportedly referred to Israel as “that [expletive] little country” and asked why “the world [should] be in danger of World War III because of those people.”

— The clear anti-Semitism at last year’s United Nations-sponsored conference against racism at Durban, South Africa, and at other recent U.N. meetings.

— Charges made in state-controlled media of Islamic countries of Jewish rituals in which non-Jews are killed, descriptions of Jews as “pigs” by Muslim leaders and government-financed Islamic elementary-school textbook references to Jews in “caricatured terms not seen since the days of Hitler.”

Calls to “blame the Jews” always have signaled “imminent disaster” for Jews and non-Jews, the letter said. Such complaints always have “cloaked the march of evil,” as well as “attacks on basic democratic values,” the letter said.

Land and the others acknowledged there are “serious differences over the best means of achieving a just peace in the Middle East.”

“[W]hatever criticisms may be leveled against the countries involved in the Middle East peace process, we believe that the time has come for all people of good will to act by declaring that anti-Semitism is a wholly illegitimate basis for political action,” they said.

Unless anti-Semitism is vigorously condemned, it could “become as effective a means of hijacking Islam and oppressing Muslims as prior libels against Jews captured and debased other great cultures of the world,” the letter said.

The news reports on the U.N.-sponsored conference in Durban ignited Land’s concern about a new outbreak of anti-Semitism, he said. Those reports showed Arab activists marching through the streets with posters of Hitler that read: “What would have happened if this man had won the war? There would be no Israel.”

Land told Baptist Press, “The time has come for the civilized world to speak up against this systematic poisoning of the hearts and minds of an entire generation of Arab youth through vicious, vitriolic anti-Semitism being poured out in government-sponsored media. They are in the process of creating a whole generation of Arabic Hitler youth, and that does much to answer the question of the source of the suicide bombings.”