A brutal war is raging in the Middle East, starting with a horrific terrorist attack by Hamas. Appalling anguish, pain and death is happening on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians. Emotions are running high around the world as people are taking sides.
There may be a broad range of opinions regarding this conflict but no one is entitled to translate their opinions into acts of hate and intimidation against others because of their ethnicity or the religion they practice. That has been happening here in the Quad Cities.
Some members of our local Muslim community have been the victims of such acts of hatred. Destruction of a children’s play structure and a threatening message left on a mutilated Barbie doll are among the examples. As Jewish faith leaders, as Jews, and as moral human beings, we are outraged by these hate incidents.
We deplore the barbaric atrocities inflicted on civilians, from infants to elders, by the terrorists of Hamas, and we denounce the Hamas mission to eliminate the existence of the State of Israel and purge the land of all Jews. We were disappointed to see some of our neighbors demonstrating against Israel’s attempts to defend itself and chanting the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which literally calls for the complete destruction of the entire state of Israel, whether or not everyone understands its full meaning.
At the same time, we denounce those who seek to paint all Muslims with the broad brush of Hamas terrorism. Hamas does not represent all those who practice Islam. The members of our local Muslim community are our brothers and sisters. They are not responsible for the acts of Hamas and should not be punished for those acts. They should be valued by all their fellow Quad-Citians.
In the past, our Muslim friends have stood with us, and we have stood with them, against acts of hatred committed against each of our groups. We invite all Quad Citians to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Muslim neighbors and with us, against all acts of hate. We call upon the authorities of our community to investigate every hate act and hold fully accountable those who commit acts of hate against members of our local Muslim community or any other people.
Shalom & Salaam,
Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, Bettendorf, and Rabbi Henry Karp and Cantor Gail Posner Karp, Davenport.