Friday, July 17, 2009

New York Imam and Jewish Blogger Spread Good Will

Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place

The article I feature below while from January fits well with my recent them. The entire site Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place is refreshingly bold - holding dialogue with "the other" in such high esteem. I am so encouraged yet the full article referred to expresses that the writer's Jewish community at large is not at all of one mind on this effort of good will at their own loss.

See the interesting, moving and sometimes funny illustrations and the surprising books this blogger reads - which really help smash some stereotypes some Muslims may have of Jewish disregard. There are not oft heard viewpoints here which give me plenty of glad goosebumps and much hope for peace!

Also find recently here: BREAKING THE SILENCE: Gaza War Soldiers’ Testimonies (part 1 & 2) with VIDEOS just the last few days - You may want to click HOME to work back from current items) Tikun Olam: Make the World a Better Place - here

N.Y. Imam Committed to Muslim-Jewish Dialogue

One of the constant themes repeated ad nauseum by right-wing Islamophobes like Daniel Pipes, Alan Dershowitz and their supporters is that Muslims are uniformly extremists filled with hate. There are no “Muslim moderates.” No imams denounce terror. They all support Al Qaeda, etc. etc.

Walter Ruby in Jewish Week brings yet further evidence of the utter falsity of such claims. He writes about the new interim Imam of New York City’s largest and most influential mosque, the Islamic Cultural Center, the Indonesian-born Mohammed Shamsi Ali. The interview with him is wide-ranging, candid and impressive:

[He] declared in a dialogue with Rabbi Schneier at the New York Synagogue earlier this month that it “cannot be accepted to deny the existence of Israel” or to deny the Holocaust. Appearing last week at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Imam Ali delivered a special sermon during Mincha services in which he urged Jews and Muslims to revisit “problematic” passages in the Koran and Torah. Those passages buttress bellicose stances against other religions by understanding them as having been written in earlier times, and not necessarily relevant to today’s world.

Imam Ali also urged his listeners to “look beyond what is presented in the media” about Jewish-Muslim relations in order to create “real connections” based on trust and affection. “Once you get to know Muslims,” he said, “you will ask them, ‘Are you really the people I see portrayed [negatively] on Fox News?’”

Key Muslim leaders in New York praise the Indonesian-born Ali as a charismatic and compassionate leader whose embrace of interfaith dialogue represents “mainstream” opinion within the Muslim community.

It is sad, but somehow reassuring that those in both the Muslim and Jewish communities who reach out to the other side are rebuffed by their respective extremist right fringes...

...Imam Ali believes that American Jews and Muslims should build a relationship “that is more influenced by religious commonalities than by political differences. We cannot deny the emotional impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, yet we need to ensure that our relationship is not determined only by that.” He added, “We also should remember that there have been bright times in our relationship as well, such as the cooperation between Muslims and Jews in Andalusia during the Middle Ages.”

I’m pleased that Jewish academic institutions like the Jewish Theological Seminary and HUC-JIR have hosted talks with him and are reaching out to him...

...the Jewish communal group is missing out on an important opportunity to engage local Muslims in dialogue and debate about issues that divide and link us. Events in the Middle East are too bloody and too catastrophic to miss such possibilities when they arise. To the Ruskays of the Jewish world I say (paraphrasing Hillel): if you will not be for peace, who will be for it? If you are only for yourself, what are you? If not now, when?

American Muslim praying at an American Mosque

SEE the full article and the equally interesting comments here

See the many and various blogs recommended by the Jewish blogger - including here

And watch the better Jewish Lobby in the US at work - here

And see some excelling recent Palestinian journalism from this former Professor - Daoud Kuttab's blog: here

And Abraham's Vision here

And I'm looking forward to the World Music offered here - maybe we'll meet at this site someday? Be sure to read and add to the comments.


Connie L. Nash said...

I am quite concerned about the US officials having "infiltrated" mosques according to a number of reports during the past administration in the US - as have been some of the concerns expressed in the full article excerpted. Many people of good will - who want safety for people under their "guardianship" want to do the "right thing" when often there is no apparent "right thing".

There was a good piece of news just reported: that the new US Attorney General Eric Holder met with Muslim youth in a Mosque recently to express concern for their well-being and serious intention to do all he and the US Dept of Justice could to create a system more just for all.

Bravo, Attorney General - may you and other US leaders continue to have more and more such connections and much greater accountability than the previous administration on all counts.

Connie L. Nash said...

Concerning the ongoing trilateral devastation inevitable with the continuation of "Jerusalem Project": Listen to your own long and grueling history, Oh Israel!

Connie L. Nash said...

This is a top site to watch often on Palestinian/Gaza concerns and there are many including the threat of malnutrition - be sure to see also the suggested problems with US approach toward peace between Palestine/Israel & Rights Group Demand Access to Palestinian Prisoners in Gaza

Bookmark, Remind to see Often:

Connie L. Nash said...

Be sure to see the poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye - Different Ways to Pray and Words under the Words - All of her works - she's a favorite poet of mine and quite a bridge of Palestinians and the rest of the world. She can be very funny too!

Connie L. Nash said...

Much more good will needed in this situation - here is a contact about the violence toward the occupied: Invasion in Bil'in on 19.07.2009
At 5:30am, shortly after the Palestinian and international activists returned to their houses after patrolling the village all night, villagers gave the alert that four Israeli Army Jeeps were driving toward the village. Shortly thereafter, Israeli soldiers raided the house of Abd Al Fatah Bornat whose son Muhammed Abd Al Fatah Bornat (age 21) they had arrested at 2am on July 17, 2009. His brother is also wanted by the occupation forces, but he was not at home this morning. The Army left without making any arrests.

A few minutes later, they reached the house of Emad Bornat whom they arrested. Villagers and Palestinian and international activists tried to block the path to the Jeep where the soldiers were about to take the victim. They were pushed back violently by the Army so that any attempt to de-arrest the victim was futile. As the Jeep with the victim inside was about to drive off, the activists marched in a chain in front of it, preventing its escape. Soldiers in a second Jeep then threw sound bombs and tear gas at the activists which made them disperse allowing the Jeep to escape. The three remaining Jeeps followed under a rain of rocks thrown by the villagers. They drove into the village while activists followed. After stopping at an intersection, soldiers took extensive video footage of all the activists. All the Jeeps then turned back and left the village with the victim.The situation is extremely serious for Emad Bornat. He is currently under medical treatment after a very bad tractor accident. It is vital for him to continue receiving this treatment.

Thank you for you continued support,

Iyad Burnat- co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin

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