I recently got a message from someone who wrote: “I want to be the kind of person who stands up for Muslims as you say, but, here’s the dilemma. Why is the Muslim community quiet when there is antisemitism, or terrorism by a Muslim Arab against Israel, or a Jewish community in Paris, or anti-Western hate talk? The non-extremist Muslim community is generally quiet.”
Here is my answer:
Salam, Shalom, peace to you!
I have a couple of thoughts on your question, so I’ll try to tease them out here as best I can. I’ve actually seen quite a few instances of Muslim-Jewish solidarity. If you google Muslim Jewish solidarity, you’ll see what I mean. Here are a few examples:
Really very inspiring and not at all rare for people involved in interfaith work. In Philadelphia, where most of my interfaith work has been, there is a long history of solidarity between Jewish and Muslim communities, including joint responses to vandalism or discrimination aimed against either community. I was part of a Muslim group that went to clean up glass from a playground that was left after a Philadelphia synagogue was vandalized several years ago.
So I’m not sure why you think that the Muslim community is quiet in the face of anti-semitism. Perhaps it is actually the silence of the media that you’re hearing? I would suggest connecting to interfaith initiatives near you to find out what people of faith are doing to stand together. As I wrote above, my interfaith community is a stark contrast to your perception.
(As an aside, it occurs to me as that Arab Muslims are semetic people, so I’m not sure anti-semitic is the word you’re looking for.)
Israel is a separate issue entirely. It its not an issue of faith or identity, it is about property and human rights. Many people have said this before me and many people will say this again. What I say is not based solely on the media, but my own experience in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories. Israel is an apartheid state committing horrific daily human rights abuses and illegal land grabs in the West Bank and Gaza. Whatever violence is committed by Palestinians is mirrored ten-fold in the violence committed by Israelis. There is no question that the military force and power of Israel dramatically outweighs that of the Palestinians. And in recent months, many have commented that the Israeli intent to eliminate the Palestinians has become very clear:
If you use the word terrorism in regard to this conflict but do not apply it to both sides, I’m afraid that hypocrisy prevents us from going much further. The solution to this ongoing conflict does not lie in erasing the Palestinian people or allowing them to be quietly run or killed off. Israel is not entitled to commit genocide, and no one, of any faith, who believes that all human lives have value should stand for it. Muslims are not, in general, quiet about Israel. We generally are quite vocal in our statements that the international community must stop Israeli military occupation and settlement of the occupied territories, stop torture and detention of Palestinians, and that Palestinians must have the rights of free movement, self-governance and return. It turns out that when a state steals a people’s land, livelihood and children, and subjects them to daily harassment, abuse and attack, those people become desperate. Continue reading