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"It was awful," Hoffman told The Forward. "In the past when I was detained I had to have a policewoman come with me to the bathroom, but this was something different. This time they checked me naked, completely, without my underwear. They dragged me on the floor 15 meters; my arms are bruised. They put me in a cell without a bed, with three other prisoners, including a prostitute and a car thief. They threw the food through a little window in the door. I laid on the floor covered with my tallit. I'm a tough cookie, but I was just so miserable. And for what? I was with the Hadassah women saying Sh'ma Yisrael."
In a press statement, the group said that it remains "committed to their struggle to gain the right of all women to pray at the Kotel, each according to her own custom, with Torah, tallit and voices raised in song."
Israeli law, upheld by the Supreme Court, stipulates that it is forbidden to conduct a religious ceremony "contrary to accepted practice" at a holy site, or one that may "hurt the feelings of other worshipers."
Rosh Chodesh "Mar Cheshvan": A Response to Anat Hoffman's arrest
from Orly Tamir
I am a 20 year old female soldier serving in the IDF for a year now. After making Aliya with my family in August 2006, I could not wait to be a part of the army - organization - that protects my beloved country of Israel, day in and day out.
My mother, sister and Savta were at the Kotel last night along with Hadassah however due to my army duties I was not able to join. While hearing my Ima and sister tell me the stories from last night, I started to cry and cry. While this is an issue I have spoken about and thought about many times before, it simply never gets easier.
Now that I am part of the armed forces protecting this country that I call home, I feel that my love for israel, my zionism, is being taken for granted. THIS is not the country I wish to fight for- a country that arrests women for expressing feminism and zionism in the holiest place for the Jewish people.
I know that there is more to this wonderful country than that and yet I find myself finding more and more things that I would like to change than things I would like to keep.
I thank everyone from WOW for reminding me day after day that I am NOT crazy to belive in religious freedom - for reminding me what it means to be a fighter, a believer and a TRUE Zionist.
Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria is director of public policy for the Rabbinical Assembly. The Rev. Clark Lobenstine is executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. Moline and Lobenstine are partnering with Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a national campaign of interfaith, faith-based and religious organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment, and are contributors to The Washington Post'slocal faith leader network .
We don't have to look far back into American history to see when the words "savage" and "civilized" were used to justify the oppression of various American communities. Among others, Catholic Americans, Jewish Americans, African Americans and Native Americans have been victims of this shameful slander. Ads placed infour local Metro stations last week borrow shamelessly from this rejected pattern of our past.
The ads, placed by Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." Riders who pass through the Glenmont, Tacoma Park, U Street and Georgia/Petworth stations are now confronted by this hateful language.
The ads do absolutely nothing to strengthen our nation as we work to unite and work for peace in the face of violence. Instead, they exploit very real concerns in order to cultivate mistrust of those who practice Islam. As such, these ads are an embarrassing example of hate speech. They rely solely on bigotry and ignorance to reduce a complex conflict to simplistic and simple-minded stereotypes. Hate speech cannot address the complexity of issues we face as a country. Rather, it deepens misconceptions and far too often promotes violence.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, faith leaders play an essential role in speaking out against hate, especially when it targets a fellow faith community. It falls on our shoulders to counter the misinformation about American Muslims that has become commonplace in media, in religious education and in our congregations.
Religious freedom is a foundational value in our Constitution. What the Constitution legislates, citizens have the responsibility to uphold. When anti-Muslim sentiment rises to a level that jeopardizes American Muslims' opportunity to practice their faith without fear of reprisal, it undermines the ability of other faith communities to depend on this essential American right. As citizens of faith, we must therefore adamantly defend the protectionsof those of different faiths.
American Muslims already face increasing rates of discrimination in government training materials, legislation aimed at religious law, zoning manipulation and attacks on persons and property. We are deeply concerned that the public display of this message, which dehumanizes Muslims and thereby validates violence against them, adds to a cumulative impact on our community and on our society. Misinformation becomes mainstream and provides fuel to deepen divisions between Americans.
Our nation has prided itself, since its founding, as a home for all to practice their faith without fear of prejudice or discrimination. We have no more to fear from American Muslims than from Americans of any faith or no faith at all. They are our neighbors. They proudly serve in our military and as doctors, school teachers and local first responders. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and they stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
The Constitution also guarantees free speech, which allows Ms. Geller and her colleagues at AFDI the right to insist that we return again to a society where exclusion and oppression can be justified by pitting the "civilized" against the "savage." But a right to hate speech does not make hate speech right. As you travel to work, shop for groceries or ride with your children to the monuments to our freedom, look with pride at the faces of American diversity and look away from the words that bring us shame.