Mutual Respect Better Than Mutual Tolerance


September 21, 2004

At the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Conference on Tolerance and the Fight against Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, in Brussels, Jordan's Prince Hassan strongly condemned anti-Semitism. "We need . . . an ethical code of conduct to protect us from anit-Semitism . . ." said the Prince last week.

Much to Prince Hassan's surprise, Rabbi Levi Matusof, the director of the European Union Jewish Community Center, exchanged greeting with him in fluent Arabic. Rabbi Matusof pointed out to the prince that both his paternal and maternal grandparents served the Jewish communities respectively, in Morocco and Tunis, explaining his fluent Arabic.

The Prince agreed with Rabbi Matusof that it is ignorance that breeds the kind of anti-Semitism that Europe is experiencing. "With all due respect to all this talk of tolerance," he said in his speech, "may I say I prefer the word respect. I do not want to tolerate you and you do not want to tolerate me. But I think . . . we can learn to respect each other's traditions, particularly at this time. . . . "

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