IT SHOULD COME AS no surprise that a Jewish organization is deeply offended by the anti-Semitic rhetoric that has been emanating from Hanafi Muslim headquarters here. The verbal attacks on "Zionist Jews," linking them to Black Muslims in some sort of conspiracy against Hanafis, are as intolerant in tone as they are inaccurate. But counterthreats, issued by the leadership of the Jewish Defense League, aren't likely to promote much goodwill or understanding, either. It is in this unpleasant context, however, that the JDL has announced plans to demonstrate on SUnday outside the Hanafi headquarters on 16th Steet NW.
Fortunately, the Jewish Community Council, which represents 180 Jewish organizations and synagogues in Greater Washington, voiced some thoughtful concern about the sensitive nature of this situation. While expressing its "strongest revulsion" to the anti-Semitic statements, the council cited its belief that "public counterthreats can only serve to further inflame emotions and should be avoided."
As for the planned demonstration, the council said it had full confidence that civil authorities could provide the community with "security and as sense of calm." That's how we prefer to anticipate the event. Peaceful demonstrations are very much a part of life in the nation's capital and people in this city have long appreciated the importance of protecting this right. Similarly, the authorities here have an impressive record of sensitivity in protecting with equal vigor the rights of all involved parties.
That is how city officials are approaching Sunday's events. With restraint on the part of all who may participate in any way, there need be no impingement on anyone's rights.