Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jordan Cancels Antisemitic TV Series, Following Protest by 24 U.S. Rabbis

To: National and International desks

Contact: David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, 215-635-5622, rafaelmedoff@aol.com

MELROSE PARK, Pa., Oct. 27 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The government of Jordan has agreed to cancel an antisemitic television series after receiving a letter of protest from 24 American rabbis who had met last month with Jordan's king.

The letter of protest was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. "During the 1930s, too many Americans were silent in the face of rising antisemitism, with tragic results," said Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. "Our generation must not repeat that error. We must speak out against antisemitism today, whenever and wherever it erupts."

The rabbis' letter was sent to the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 2005. Two days later, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported the Jordanian Embassy's announcement (on Oct. 26) that the series has been cancelled, noting that "a group of rabbis that had met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in September wrote the king a letter urging him to stop the broadcasts."

Those who signed the letter of protest included Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, vice-president of Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College. Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbis also signed the letter.

The antisemitic television series, called "Al-Shatat," portrays Jews conspiring to assassinate world leaders, cause stock market crashes, and provoke world wars, as part of a plan to conquer the world, based on the notorious antisemitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." One episode depicts Jews murdering a Christian child in order to use his blood for Passover matzos. Another episode shows Jewish leaders helping the Nazis slaughter Europe's Jews, in order to win world sympathy for Zionism.

The 29-part series had been running on the Al-Mamnou television channel in Jordan. In recent years, the series was also aired on Hezbollah's Al-Manar Television and on Iranian Television.

In their letter to Jordan's king, the twenty-four rabbis wrote: "We fear that these horrifying libels could incite viewers to hatred and even violence. Jordanian citizens, especially young people, should not be inculcated with such messages and images, which undermine your noble efforts to promote peace ... Your Majesty, the words you spoke at our meeting last month gave us hope. Please do not allow Al-Mamnou to shatter that hope by broadcasting incitement to hatred."

The letter also suggested that Jordanian Television should air the Holocaust movie "Schindler's List," which Jordan and other Arab countries refused to show when it came out, in 1994.

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The text of the letter, and the full list of signatories, follows:

October 24, 2005

His Royal Highness Abdullah II

Embassy of Jordan

Washington, D.C. (via fax 202-966-3110)

Your Majesty:

We were among the rabbis who had the privilege of meeting with you at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., last month, and hearing your moving words of peace and brotherhood.

Rare is the leader who has the courage to speak the way you did. Your impassioned condemnation of terrorists as "violent and ignorant extremists" sent a powerful message to the enemies of peace. Your stirring call to Muslims and Jews to "honor our common heritage" filled us with hope of a better future for all our children, Muslim and Jewish alike.

It is precisely because of our concern for the future of our children that we are writing to express our surprise and dismay at the news(a) that the Al-Mamnou television channel in Jordan has begun airing the 29-part series "Al-Shatat." This hate- filled series, which in recent years was broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar Television and on Iranian Television, portrays Jews conspiring to assassinate world leaders, cause stock market crashes, and provoke world wars, as part of a plan to conquer the world, based on the notorious antisemitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. One episode depicts Jews murdering a Christian child in order to use his blood for Passover matzos. Another episode shows Jewish leaders helping the Nazis slaughter Europe's Jews, in order to win world sympathy for Zionism.

We fear that these horrifying libels could incite viewers to hatred and even violence. Jordanian citizens, especially young people, should not be inculcated with such messages and images, which undermine your noble efforts to promote peace.

We believe that Jordanian television should be a vehicle to facilitate the goals of interfaith conciliation and understanding that you articulated at our meeting. Television programs about the Jewish people should reflect a sense of responsibility and maturity. Programs concerning the Holocaust should exhibit sensitivity and teach viewers important lessons about moral choices, such as those contained in the movie "Schindler's List."

Your Majesty, the words you spoke at our meeting last month gave us hope. Please do not allow Al-Mamnou to shatter that hope by broadcasting incitement to hatred.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jeffrey Bienenfeld; Young Israel of St. Louis; St. Louis, MI

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb; Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation; Bethesda, MD

Rabbi Ronne Friedman; Senior Rabbi; Temple Israel, Boston, MA

Rabbi Dr. Gershon C. Gewirtz; Young Israel of Brookline; Brookline, MA

Rabbi Steven M. Glazer; Congregation Beth Emeth; Herndon, VA

Rabbi Leonard Gordon; Germantown Jewish Centre; Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Susan Grossman; Beth Shalom Congregation; Columbia, MD

Rabbi Joshua Gutoff; The William Davidson School of Jewish Education; New York City

Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman; Washington Hebrew Congregation; Washington, DC

Rabbi Marc D. Israel; Director of Education and Congregational Programming; Ohr Kodesh Congregation; Chevy Chase, MD

Rabbi Bruce E. Kahn; Executive Director; Equal Rights Center; Washington, DC

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff; Vice President; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman; Senior Scholar; Temple Israel, Boston, MA

Rabbi Avis D. Miller; Adas Israel Congregation; Washington, DC

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director ; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Washington, DC

Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Founder & President; PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values; Rockville, MD

Rabbi Ethan Seidel; Tifereth Israel Congregation; Washington, DC

Rabbi Yakov Travis; Siegal College of Jewish Studies; Cleveland, OH

Rabbi Mohe Waldoks; Temple Beth Zion; Brookline, MA

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt; Congregation B'nai Tzedek; Potomac, MD

Rabbi Avi Weinstein; Director of Jewish Studies; Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Upper School; Rockville, MD

Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg; Senior Rabbi, Adas Israel Congregation; Washington, DC

Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg; Beth Tfiloh Congregation; Baltimore, MD ;

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(In addition, Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel has sent a separate letter of protest to King Abdullah II.)

(Institutions listed for identification purposes only.)

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Note a: As reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), http://www. MEMRI.org

ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located on the campus of Gratz College (near Philadelphia), is a research and education institute focusing on America's response to the Holocaust. It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.

The Institute's Advisory Committee includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, Members of Congress, and other luminaries. Its Academic Council includes more than 50 leading professors of the Holocaust, American history, and Jewish history. The Institute's Arts & Letters Council, chaired by Cynthia Ozick, includes prominent artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers. For a complete list, please visit http://www.WymanInstitute.org

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