Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

How Much Tolerance for Intolerance?

May 12, 2013 7:21 am 0 comments

United Nations in Geneva. Photo: wiki commons.

Tolerance is justifiably one of liberal Democracy’s most cherished values. But what do we do when tolerance, with its openness to multiple views, permits and even supports intolerance? This is particularly an issue today when open prejudice against Jews and Israel, and anti-Semitism, go unchallenged.

Fundamentalism and prejudice are rife in the Middle East, where many countries practice forms of gender, religious, ethnic and sexual apartheid. Yet, Saudi Arabia remains a U.S. ally despite the fact that women there are subjugated and it is illegal for Christians to pray in public.

The most egregious forms of anti-Semitism are rampant in the Middle East. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi libeled Jews as apes and pigs, yet U.S. leaders speak of the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderating force. Similarly, we turn a blind eye to the anti-Semitism, intolerance and corruption that are rife in the Palestinian Authority. We do so even though these practices and views violate two pillars of America—tolerance and pluralism.

Unfortunately, the United Nations and Europe also condone intolerance. In Europe, anti-Semitism remains a serious problem, but it is often camouflaged by politically correct speech and rationalized as political discourse about Israel. Terrorism against Israel is frequently excused or rationalized.

Michael Totten, in his book The Road to Fatima, wrote that one of liberalism’s “greatest dilemmas” is the question, “How much do the intolerant deserve tolerance?” He was speaking of the difficulty a weak nation like Lebanon faces, despite its history of liberalism, in dealing with an intolerant terror organization like Hezbollah. This phenomenon is not just a Lebanese problem. It is widespread. We live in a world where many enlightened nations and their cultural leaders excuse terrorism because they are sympathetic to liberation movements, or because they view the terrorist group as the weaker party.

Many Western intellectuals subscribe to a moral standard in which the party that is weaker in arms or political strength is morally right. Anti-Israel rhetoric is the most prominent example of this bias. Today, Israel is perceived as the stronger party, and Palestinian terrorism is justified as the weak fighting against the powerful. This moral framework has allowed many to express their latent anti-Semitism under the guise of morality.

How should we resolve this dilemma?

We should see other countries and movements as they really are, not as we wish they were. When we deal with a United Nations dominated by non-democratic countries, or an Arab world that still promotes hatred and prejudice, we should acknowledge that reality instead of retreating to the passivity of moral relativism. We should act responsibly and wisely, and stop excusing those who are intolerant and threaten our national and foreign security interests, and threaten our values.

Eric R. Mandel, MD is co-chair of StandWithUs-New York.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →