October 27, 2005
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 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. The rabbis’ protest was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.”
Those who signed the Wyman Institute’s letter 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, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 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.
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)
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* 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.
Rabbi Jeffrey Bienenfeld
Young Israel of St. Louis
St. Louis, MI
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
Rabbi Ronne Friedman
Temple Israel, Boston, MA
Rabbi Dr. Gershon C. Gewirtz
Young Israel of Brookline
Rabbi Steven M. Glazer
Congregation Beth Emeth
Rabbi Leonard Gordon
Germantown Jewish Centre
Rabbi Susan Grossman
Beth Shalom Congregation
Rabbi Joshua Gutoff
The William Davidson School of Jewish Education
New York City
Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman
Washington Hebrew Congregation
Rabbi Marc D. Israel
Director of Education and Congregational Programming
Ohr Kodesh Congregation
Chevy Chase, MD
Rabbi Bruce E. Kahn
Equal Rights Center
Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman
Temple Israel, Boston, MA
Rabbi Avis D. Miller
Adas Israel Congregation
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Founder & President
PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values
Rabbi Ethan Seidel
Tifereth Israel Congregation
Rabbi Yakov Travis
Siegal College of Jewish Studies
Rabbi Mohe Waldoks
Temple Beth Zion
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt
Congregation B’nai Tzedek
Rabbi Avi Weinstein
Director of Jewish Studies
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Upper School
Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg
Senior Rabbi, Adas Israel Congregation
Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg
Beth Tfiloh Congregation
(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.)
* As reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), www. MEMRI.org