On Eve of 9/11, Netanyahu Condemns Koran-burning

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 12-Sep-10 | Source: The Israel Project

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel
  • Netanyahu says the burning undermines religious tolerance and peace
  • Israel identifies with America’s loss on Sept. 11 and mourns those who lost their lives
  • Israel funds free Korans for its Muslim citizens

Washington, DC, September 10, 2010 - In an unusual move to issue a formal statement on the Jewish New Year Rosh HaShana, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu released the following:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the burning of religious books is wrong and undermines religious tolerance and peace.

The Prime Minister urges that such irresponsible actions not be taken.

Earlier Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Abbas and the two leaders exchanged greetings for the Jewish New Year and for the Muslim holy day of Eid-ul-Fitr.

The statement came before a Florida pastor, the Rev. Terry Jones, on Thursday (Sept. 9) suspended plans to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Jones cancelled the planned burning when he claimed Muslim officials confirmed that the controversial mosque being built next to Ground Zero would not be built. The officials involved denied such comments and Jones has since threatened to resume the burning. [1] World leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have condemned the burning of religious books.

Rev. Jones has planned his PR stunt to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. [2] Israel has continuously mourned the victims of 9/11. After the attacks in 2001, then Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon called then President of the United States George W. Bush to issue his condolences. Israelis widely mourned the attack on American soil by religious, extremist terrorists.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs commemorated the anniversary of Sept. 11 saying, “Israel deeply mourns the more than 3,000 victims of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The people of Israel express their most heartfelt sympathy for the American people as they mark one year since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.” Five Israeli victims were among those who lost their lives in the attacks. [3]

On the one year anniversary of Sept. 11, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke at a ceremony commemorating the terror attacks. Sharon said, “Today, one year after the terror attack of September 11, we stand by the American people…We stand by America as it struggles to make life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness once again self-evident for all of us.” Click here for Ariel Sharon's complete speech

Universities in Israel have held events on Sept. 11 to mark the anniversary of 9/11.

As a democracy in the Middle East committed to the free practice of religion for all, regardless of religious affiliation, Israel stands as an oasis of religious freedom. The Israeli government supports religious services for communities of all faiths. This includes funding Korans and the operating costs for more than 100 mosques [4] as well as the salaries of Muslim religious leaders, serving as a safe haven for minorities persecuted in surrounding countries, allowing citizens of any religion to hold political office and paying for the upkeep of holy sites for all religions.

For more information about freedom of religion in Israel see:

Religious Freedom in Israel: A Fundamental Guarantee


Footnotes:

[1] “U.S. pastor reconsiders cancelling Koran burning after ‘lied to’ by N.Y. imam,” The Associated Press, Sept. 10, 2010, http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/u-s-pastor-reconsiders-cancelling-koran-burning-after-lied-toby-n-y-imam-1.313111

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Israel Remembers September 11th, “ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site, accessed Sept. 10, 2010,http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Modern+History/Historic+Events/Israel%20Remembers%20September%2011

[4] Interview with Ambassador Reda Mansour, consul general to the southeastern U.S., March 5, 2008

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