A lecturer in public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government claims there is a double standard by which Muslim clerics are criticized for not condemning Islamist terrorism when "rabbis are not condemning the violent settlers' movement."
Jessica Stern's lecture and those of other participants sought to promote "new thinking against violent extremism and radicalization," according to papers circulated at the conference by the EastWest Institute, a think tank hosting the event in Manhattan.
Dr. Stern opened her remarks by saying that, while it may be true there is presently more violence being committed in the name of Islam than in the name of other religions, "all three major monotheistic religions have produced violence."
She then drew a parallel between what she characterized as violence in the name of Islam and violence in the name of Judaism and Christianity, as well as in official responses to such violence on the part of leaders of all three faiths.
"I've heard a lot of bashing of Muslim clerics for not stepping up to the plate and condemning extremist violence," she said. "But Catholic priests are not stepping up to condemn those who kill abortion doctors…[and] rabbis are not condemning the violent settlers' movement."
Asked afterward to clarify who comprises the "violent settlers' movement," and what specific acts of violence they are engaged in, she said, "People who want to blow up the Dome of the Rock or who are fighting the Israeli government. I'm not talking about the Israeli government."
When asked to cite specific examples of violence undertaken by this "violent settlers' movement," she mentioned Yigal Amir's 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, a crime that was almost universally condemned by Jewish leadership.
Dr. Stern is author of the books "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill" and "The Ultimate Terrorists," based on her interviews with white supremacists in the U.S. and Islamist terrorist leaders overseas.