Bahai News - Jewish Leaders Decline Luncheon Invite With Mubarak
Jewish Leaders Decline Luncheon Invite With Mubarak
By Julie Stahl
CNS Jerusalem Bureau Chief
April 04, 2001
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Leaders of major Jewish organizations
turned down an invitation to lunch with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
in Washington on Wednesday to protest against anti-Semitism and
incitement in the Egyptian media, as well as Egypt's refusal to return
its ambassador to Israel.
Mubarak, on an official visit to the
U.S., has been faced with opposition from several groups including the
Jewish community and Egyptian Christians, who asked President Bush to
raise their concerns in his meeting with the Egyptian
Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein explained that
his organization was not boycotting the luncheon, but was simply not
going to attend.
If the invitation had presented an opportunity
for a "serious dialogue," then he would have attended, said Hoenlein,
who has met with the Egyptian leader in the past. But the phrase on the
invitation said it was a "luncheon in honor of ... " so he decided not
to attend, he added.
Among the issues to which the American
Jewish community takes exception is the rampant anti-Israel and
anti-Semitic sentiments expressed regularly in editorials and cartoons
in the Egyptian press.
Jewish leaders would also like to see
Egypt return its ambassador to Tel Aviv. The Egyptian ambassador was
recalled several months ago in support of the Palestinians.
Anti-Defamation League has led the campaign to raise awareness of
anti-Semitism in the Egyptian media and to call on Mubarak to use his
influence to stop it.
On Monday when Mubarak met with
President Bush, the ADL called on administration officials to hold him
"personally accountable for the persistent use of anti-Semitism in the
The ADL's appeal was prompted by an article in the
government-backed newspaper Al-Akhbar, which resurrected the
centuries-old charge of blood libel against the Jewish people during the
week of the pan-Arab summit in Amman.
Blood libel refers to the
evil myth that Jewish people kill Christian children at the time of
Passover to use their blood to make matzah. Matzah, the unleavened bread
of the book of Exodus in the Bible, is made from flour and water only.
"It is ludicrous that Egypt's leaders, while holding out an
olive branch to Israel and the United States, continue to permit such
ugly and hateful stereotypes of Jews and Judaism," Foxman said in a
statement. "Egypt's tolerance of anti-Semitism belies its claim that it
wants to continue to be a partner for peace," he added.
comments to the daily Ha'aretz newspaper on Wednesday, Foxman
said that he respected Mubarak but was "not prepared to be present at an
event held in his honor."
Foxman argued that the luncheon was
organized for "propaganda reasons" and criticized certain Jews who had
decided to attend the luncheon.
"There is no common language or
common cause today linking Jews and Arab individuals, who up to now have
refrained from denouncing violence and terror," he was quoted as
Earlier, the Zionist Organization of America called on
Jewish leaders not to attend the luncheon citing among other things what
it called "Egypt's preparations for war, its withdrawal of its
ambassador from Israel, its refusal to accredit Israel's ambassador in
Egypt, and its many other violations of the Israel-Egypt peace
Among those not heeding the appeal are said to be the
Israel Policy Forum, Americans for Peace Now and a rabbi from the Union
of American Hebrew Congregations.
On Wednesday, Communications Director of the U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom Lawrence J. Goodrich said
in a telephone interview that his organization hadn't received any
information on its earlier appeal to President Bush to raise issues of
religious-freedom with Mubarak.
The Washington-based organization
was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to give
independent recommendations to the executive branch and
A delegation from the UCIRF just completed a
fact-finding trip to Egypt, which is known to allow persecution and
discrimination against the country's Christian minority.
respect to the Christian community, government permission must still be
sought to build or repair a church.
"Christians are rarely
promoted to high levels in the government or military and are frequently
discriminated against by private employers in hiring and promotion.
Their taxes help pay the salaries of all Muslim, but no Christian,
clergy," a letter from the organization to the president charged.
The letter also notes infractions against Baha'is and certain
Muslims, as well as police brutality and torture of detainees.
©Copyright 2001, CNS Mews
Page last updated/revised 040601
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