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Andrew Ikeman | News Editor

HATRED CAN BE arbitrary, and it can be strong. I never understood why people inherently despise a person they have never met because of their race, sexuality, or religion. The recent violence in the Middle East over a film that depicts the Prophet Muhammad to be a womanizer is troubling, and underscores the hatred that still exists in the world.

In the post 9/11 world, this conflict is more evident than ever before. Through Quran burnings, and the so-called “draw Muhammed” days, Islamophobia has become an accepted fact in many places in the US. I share an office with a proud Muslim woman, and when I asked her what she thought of depicting Muhammed in any way, shape, or form, her answer was incredibly simple: You don’t do it.

Growing up, I often heard my grandfather¾who is Jewish¾talk about Muslims. He would say that they want to wipe Israel off the map, and they must be stopped. His hatred of Muslims seemed incredibly bigoted to me, and only recently have I seen the reasons he held these beliefs—although I am strongly opposed to them. The mutual anger between the Jews and the Muslims is not as evident in Canada as it is in some places. This hatred is vile, and exists on both sides, but it is also very arbitrary. In my very small amount of time in Temple, I learned that many modern religions stemmed from the same place, and so it would seem arbitrary to hate each other.

Back when I was maturing as a young Jewish person, I was often teased. I have heard every single joke out there, whether it be about our supposed “gold”—thank you to the creators of South Park— our supposed propensity to be cheap, and even Holocaust jokes. I have heard them all—hell, I’ve even been known to make them myself—but all they do is serve to increase intolerance.

When I was living in a small town, my family and I were the only Jews. Whether it was questions about why I was skipping school for the High Holidays, or jokes about Hitler, I was rarely afforded common courtesy. This experience opened me to being more tolerant of others.

This past Sunday, it was the Jewish New Year—Rosh Hashanah—during which we try to start over, and do better than we did the previous year. Hatred serves no purpose. It is simply there to lay blame on people for the problems of those around us. I learned long ago that no one person and no one religion is better than all the others. This year I plan to stop making stupid Jew jokes, and I will strive to make sure that I do not spread intolerance in any form. I wish all of you a happy new year, Shana Tova. I’m hopeful that this next year will have a little less intolerance in it.