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Rich Siegel

Rich Siegel

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A Passover Reflection on Middle Eastern Freedom

Posted: 04/20/11 09:37 AM ET

Last night was the first night of Passover. Naturally, we had family over to eat bitter herbs, strange fish and cardboard-like bread material. And we recalled my people's exodus from the land of Pharaoh.

But as we were reading from the coffee-stained haggadahs that have been stashed in a drawer since Maxwell House poured their first cup of Joe, it was hard to ignore the current political rumblings in the Middle East and the incongruity of the Muslim narrative with regard to Jews.

First, the latter.

The telling of the Exodus and the prophecy of Moses is told countless times in the Quran. In fact, Moses is revered in Islam as one of the greatest men of all time. Furthermore, Muslims believe God gave the Israelites the Torah on Mt. Sinai and fully acknowledge their journey to Canaan. They've even built a shrine where Moses is believed to be buried. And that shrine is just outside Jerusalem. In other words, for centuries imams throughout the world have validated a Jewish presence in Israel.

I don't understand how modern day Arabs and Muslims, who are violently faithful to the Quran, can now assert that Jews have no historical claim to the land. Somehow the people who run the madrassas have done some reverse, reverse engineering.

The optimist in me says that perhaps that's all about to change.

We've seen the Egyptians freed from Mubarak. The Libyans are on the verge of ousting Gaddafi. And there's growing unrest in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria, where Assad is torturing, persecuting and shooting his own countrymen.

I don't share a lot with the incredibly anti-Semitic folks in these countries. I'm shocked by their tribal ignorance, appalled at their views on women and gays, and repulsed by their intolerance for people of other or no faith.

Still, no one should live in the bondage of political slavery. So in the spirit of Passover and in the modified words of Moses, "Let those people go."