WASHINGTON (Apr. 17)
The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington expressed its “shock” to the Washington Post Friday after that newspaper had published an article Thursday sympathetic to the Hanafi Moslems under two eight-column banner lines that read “The Hanafis See Themselves as Oppressed and Isolated” and “Hanafi Muslim Blames ‘Zionist’ Jews for Group’s Plight.”
Criticizing the Post’s editorial judgment, the Council said it is “ironic” that the “Hanafi anti-Jewish canard and distortions of history and fact reminiscent of Nazi statements” appeared on the day Jews observe “Heroes and Martyrs Day” in memory of the millions of victims of the Nazi holocaust. The Council called on Washington citizenry of all faiths and racial origin to “isolate the cancerous hatred so brazenly expressed by the Hanafi.”
The Post carried the Council’s protest of approximately 160 words on page two of its third news section Friday under a one-column head, “Jews Score Post Story on Hanafi.” The statement was introduced with a sentence that said the Council “criticized the Washington Post for a story that ran in Thursday editions expressing the anti-Semitic beliefs of a Hanafi Muslim interviewed recently.”
VITRIOLIC ANTI-ZIONIST ATTACK
The Post’s story of approximately 2000 words by a staff writer, Joseph D. Whitaker, was almost totally devoted to his interview with Reginald A. Hawkins Jr., a brother-in-law of Hanafi Moslem leader Khalifa Hamaas Abdul Khaalis who, with a dozen gunmen on March 9, took over three Washington buildings, including the B’nai B’rith headquarters, and held 134 hostages for 39 hours.
A Black newsman was killed and a dozen persons injured by the gunmen in their acts of terrorism which the Hanafi Moslems claimed were staged to proclaim that the killers of Khaalis’ seven family members in 1973 were insufficiently punished by the U.S. courts.
The Whitaker story that featured the Post’s third section Thursday, reported Hawkin’s view that “the quest of Zionist Jews throughout history has been to destroy the Islamic faith and enslave its believers.” Hawkins was quoted as saying, “The Zionists teach that anyone who is not Jewish is a beast. In fact it was the Zionists that were the cause of us being brought into this country.” The Post’s account did not attempt to challenge or contradict or refute Hawkins’ statements which Whitaker reported.
Whitaker wrote that Hawkins left Christianity eight years ago to embrace the Moslem faith and took the name of Abdul Salim. He reported Hawkins is employed by a major insurance company which was not identified in the story. Whitaker also reported Hawkins, or Salim, is a native of Charlotte, N.C., and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied ancient history and African linguistics. He also studied African history at Howard University here. He lives in a middle class Washington suburb with his wife and two small children, Whitaker said.
Leaders of the Jewish Community Council, which represents 180 organizations and agencies in the Washington area, sought a meeting with the Post’s management. Benjamin Bradlee, its executive editor, met with Ernest Shalowitz, the Council’s vice-president, and Daniel Mann, the executive director. They left their statement with Bradlee which the Post published.
STATEMENT BY COMMUNITY COUNCIL
The statement said: “It is indeed ironic that the newest onslaught of vitriolic Hanafi anti-Jewish canards and distortion of history and fact reminiscent of Nazi statements a generation ago appears in the Washington Post on ‘Heroes and Martyrs Day’–the day observed by Jews throughout the world as a memorial to the millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
“The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington condemns the hatred spewed into our community by Hanafi pronouncements which belie their claims of a religious faith embodying concepts of brotherhood and humanity.
“Let all citizens of the nation’s capital–Jews, Christians, Muslims, white and Black–join together in bonds of true brotherhood to isolate the cancerous hatred so brazenly expressed by the Hanafi. Furthermore, the Council is shocked at the excessive space devoted by the Post to such totally unfounded and obviously fabricated allegations which reflects in our view a serious shortcoming in editorial judgment.”