by Jerry Gordon (January 2012)
Jewish interfaith dialogue with Muslims has moved beyond mere episodes to one of joint services and soon, joint sanctuaries. It is an insidious form of Da’wah (call to Islam) that some Jewish communal groups are dangerously courting, an act of self destruction undermining the future of the Jewish community in America.
This dramatic shift is a reflection of a miscast liberal Jewish interpretation of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. Miscast, because traditional Judaism views Tikkun Olam as the perfection of an exemplary life in the fulfillment the 613 mitzvoth, or good deeds. Interfaith dialogue began in earnest following World War Two in the aftermath of the Holocaust. It was reflected in joint Thanksgiving services with mainstream liberal Protestant churches. The liberal Jewish view of dialogue was institutionalized with the creation of Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs) by Jewish Federations that were mandated to engage in outreach to the non-Jewish community. The JCRCs were also a reflection of Jewish activism in the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the anti-War movement during the Vietnam era.
The major Jewish denominations through the leadership at the respective seminaries for the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist movements, and less so the traditional Orthodox seminaries, have institutionalized interfaith dialogue in training of new members of the rabbinate.
Thus we find JCRCs, Jewish denominational seminary leaders showing up to break hallal bread with Muslim community leaders who are for the most part representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. These Jewish community and religious leaders think nothing of attending annual meetings of MB groups like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), CAIR, and urging their children to make common cause with Muslim Student Association (MSA) chapters in opposing counter-Jihad advocates on college and university campuses. We have found Hillel chapters supporting MSA college chapters, the later endeavoring to deny free speech to those critical of doctrinal Islam and its treatment of women, gays, apostates and unbelievers. There is ready acceptance of anti-Zionist and anti-Israel Jewish advocacy groups on local JCRC’s and even Jewish Federation Israel Action committees. Groups like Brit Tzedek v Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, which is now integrated with J Street’s local chapters. As a result, Jewish communal organizations harbor Jewish advocates of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in the self destructive attempt to force recognition of a Palestinian state. A Palestinian state seeking to occupy “the space between the river and the sea” – Israel.
In this article we will demonstrate how aberrant and dangerous is the contemporary Jewish predilection to dialogue with its ancient Muslim enemies.
One Big Tent for Christians, Jews and Muslims in Brentwood
A late December 2011 edition of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal (Jewish Journal) cover showed a picture of three women clergy; one an Israeli-born rabbi, a Sufi Muslim leader and the Lutheran minister whose Brentwood, California church has become the apotheosis of the Abrahamic religions’ big tent. The Jewish Journal article was entitled: “One Big Tent: Jews, Muslims, Christians celebrate spirituality in a shared sacred space.”
Witness the reaction of the rabbi of the small Ahavat Torah congregation that holds services in the Lutheran Church when she heard the Imam intone ‘Allahu Akbar’ at a joint service in 2008.
Whirling Dervishes, an elaborate feast and a lecture by a prominent Muslim scholar – Musallah Tauhid’s (Place of Unity) joyous celebration of its move to a new home in 2008 heralded good times ahead for the Sufi Muslim worship group. As a friendly gesture, the group invited its new neighbors for the occasion: members of both Village Lutheran Church, whose Brentwood facility Musallah Tauhid would now be sharing, and Ahavat Torah, a small Jewish congregation that also holds its services at the church.
But early in the festivities, a tense moment threatened the mood. As Muslim leaders called the gathering to prayer to bless the establishment, their opening invocation — “Allahu Akbar,” God is great — sent chills through Rabbi Miriam Hamrell, Ahavat Torah’s spiritual leader. Those words, she realized with horror, are the same ones that suicide bombers in Israel often shout before detonating themselves.
“When I heard those words again, I started to shake,” Hamrell, a native Israeli, recalled. “It was an immediate physical reaction. I literally looked around the room and thought, ‘Who is going to blow themselves up?’”
Images flashed through her mind of two friends from her days in the Israel Defense Forces who were killed in a blast, and of the time she arrived at the scene of a bombing just after an explosion. It all came back — the blood, the smoke, the victims lying injured on the street.
Soon it was Hamrell’s turn to address the group of Muslims, Christians and Jews gathered for the event. She decided to tell them about her emotional reaction and personal history of trauma.
“I believe that a good relationship has to be based on truth. So I have to share with you what just happened to me,” she told them.
Hamrell elaborated later, “I have always felt that fear and struggle should not hold a person back from moving forward or overcome good judgment. It takes time, patience, trust and understanding to build a relationship. It takes keeping your heart open. And sometimes it takes a lot of work to keep your heart open. I told them, ‘I’m working on myself. It’s not easy. I promise and commit to try to overcome this personal struggle.’”
Many guests at the assembly, touched by her words, offered their sympathy. One Muslim leader recited a blessing for her: “May it become easier.”
The Jewish Journal article goes on to recount Rabbi Hamrell’s coalescence with this big tent arrangement at the Brentwood Lutheran Church that has held interfaith services on Jewish holidays like Tu B’shevat, Passover, and Sukkot. The Rev, Janet Bregard, Lutheran Pastor of The Village Church in Brentwood, espouses a liberal spiritual communal outreach ministry. As The Jewish Journal article noted:
She and Musallah Tauhid founder Noor-Malika Chishti had both participated in interfaith work before through Monks Without Borders and the international Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Rabbi Hamrell may be putting on a game face. Unlike her contemporary liberal American members of the rabbinate, she knew up close and personal the Jihadist extremists of fundamentalist Islam who killed her friends. As she remarked:
“It takes courage to go into places where you know you won’t feel comfortable,” Hamrell said. “The question is how can change occur if you always go where it’s comfortable?”
Omaha’s Tri-Faith Project is Not Kosher
There’s a new twist to the mega mosque controversy in America: a tri-faith complex built on what was a Jewish Country Club in Omaha where billionaire investor Warren Buffet was once a member. It is called the Tri-Faith Initiative and it looks like the latest in inter-religious dialogue.
Rabbi Jonathan Hausman commented:
Let's see if I understand this situation. Reform synagogue teams up with Mainline Protestant church with dwindling attendance to provide cover for the inevitable zoning issues and protests that will ensue regarding construction of a mosque. Just perfect.
In late August, 2011, Omaha World Herald had a puff piece by columnist Michael Kelly boosting the project: “Kelly: Three-faith site planners persevere.” Kelly took a gratuitous swipe at the controversy surrounding the expansion of the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro while suggesting the project in Omaha hasn’t drawn any opposition from reform Jews and Episcopalians.
Leaders of Omaha's unique plan to build homes for three faiths at one location are proceeding with optimism, confident they will overcome a few whispers of unease.
In a world of turmoil and political-religious animosity, it is remarkable that the plan has advanced this far without public controversy. Nowhere else is a community doing what Omaha has set out to do: Build a synagogue, a mosque and a church next alongside one another, along with a fourth interfaith structure.
Quiet fears that have been expressed range from the possibility of diluting the respective religions, to worries about intermarriage or even the chance that extremists could view the site as a target.
Nonetheless, a feeling of good will prevails, even as leaders acknowledge that support is not unanimous.
But no protests or ugly incidents have occurred such as happened last year in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where a longtime mosque was planning to expand.
Kelly cites liberal national Jewish newspaper, The Forward, as believing the Omaha Tri-faith project marks a first:
In a metro area with a population of 850,000, the number of people directly affected by the tri-faith effort is relatively small — about 4,500 Episcopalians, 5,500 Jews and nearly that many Muslims.
Even though the tri-faith groups represent about 2 percent of the metro population, the Omaha effort is being watched elsewhere.
The national Jewish publication The Forward said this month that if the Omaha experiment works, it “will become a beacon of cooperation in a world of interreligious strife.”
The Tri-Faith project has the usual spin from Muslim radio commentators and local Omaha Muslim leaders.
Dr. David Liepert, an author who bills himself as “The Optimistic Muslim,” asked on his Internet radio show whether “Omaha, Neb., of all places, is the interfaith capital of the world.”
For the mosque, Muslim leaders have hired a fundraiser who is Jewish and an architect who is Christian.
[. . .]
The often-unstated fear, given the world history of Muslims and Jews, is that disputes and protests someday could spill over into violence in Omaha or that the tri-faith site could be a target.
But according to Kelly all is not sweetness and light about the Tri-Faith project. Witness the objections to the project, an outgrowth of a new sanctuary for a Reform Temple and adjacent residential- commercial development in Omaha:
The houses of worship — the church is Episcopal — are planned for a 37-acre corner of the former Ironwood Golf Course. It was originally the Highland Country Club, built long ago by Jews when they were not allowed to join existing country clubs.
The tri-faith site, east of 132nd Street between Pacific Street and West Center Road, would be part of a much larger residential-commercial development called Sterling Ridge. When the Omaha City Council held a hearing, neighbors objected to parts of the overall development, but no one opposed the tri-faith plan.
Nine years ago, well before such a plan was discussed, Temple Israel began studying what to do with its synagogue at 7023 Cass St., its location since 1954. This past May 15th, the congregation announced it had voted “overwhelmingly” to build a new synagogue at Sterling Ridge.
“It's very important for each religious community to decide on its own,” said Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel. “We hear excitement about building a new synagogue. That is the goal of this congregation.”
One who has raised objections is businessman and longtime Temple congregant Gary Javitch. He contends that some members did not understand at the time of the vote that the plan to build a synagogue was “deeply intertwined” with the plan for a tri-faith campus.
He even asked Temple leaders that a revote be taken with “an opportunity to choose another location as an option.”
Javitch said he wants to know whether future next-door neighbors, who would attend the mosque, wish ill on Israel.
“In and of itself, I like the idea of talking with Muslims,” Javitch said. “But before committing to a multimillion-dollar project, I want to know what we're getting into.”
Muslims, Episcopalians and Jews involved in the tri-faith effort all want to know who their next-door neighbors are. Leaders say they have spent the past five years getting to know each other through joint gatherings, including a stirring event in March 2009 attended by more than 1,100 people — called “Dinner in Abraham's Tent: Conversations in Peace.”
Notwithstanding sources of funding for the new Reform Temple and Episcopal Church, where are the funds going to come from to build the Mosque? An indication of that possibility can be found in this post on the ACT! Omaha Chapter website about recent renovations to the existing Islamic Center of Omaha (ICO):
The ICO has been busy remodeling and the project includes the building of a new minaret. The question of whether or not this minaret will be sounded 5 times every day (starting as early as 5 or 6 am) is yet to be seen or rather, heard.
The ICO is deeded to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).
NAIT represents at least two things:
· Saudi Arabian funding and Saudi Arabia’s extreme form of Islam, Wahhabism; and,
· NAIT is a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) front group.
Then there is the past radical leadership of the ICO, Imam Ahmed Alzaree, who left Omaha in 2007 and resigned in controversy before he could take a new post at a Cleveland, Ohio Mosque.
Not enough due diligence has been done by the benighted Jewish and Episcopalian participants in the Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative on their ICO Mosque partners. Rabbi Hausman commented on what the non-Muslim Tri-Faith partners should address:
Who will sit on the mosque's board, who will serve as officers, what links do/did/will these individuals have? What organizations have such people supported in the past (e.g. American Task Force for Palestine, ISNA, CAIR and other proven MB front groups)?
Noted theologian Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein commented:
I am appalled but not surprised at this tale out of Omaha. I wonder how much the mosque and the Episcopal Church paid for their land on the “defunct” Jewish country club and how much Jewish money would be put into this project.
Then, there is Mr. Freeman, Chairman of the Tri-Faith Initiative who was quoted in the Kelly article as saying:
“We’ve always known that the Middle East conflict will go on and on,” he said. “We are not going to bring peace to the Middle East or to the world. Are we supposed to wait for some kind of sign before we act decently to one another?”
As Rick Greenfield, publisher of The Connecticut Jewish Ledger commented: “when I see the word Tri Faith…I think of Traif (not Kosher)”.
Watch this You Tube video of the Tri-Faith Media Conference held on December13, 2011.
Twinning With Mosques at West Side Manhattan Synagogues
During the Weekend of November 18-20, 2011 the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) arranged for so-called twinning events putting Muslim mosques together with Jewish synagogues and campus Hillel groups. This was the third such twinning program launched by the FFEU co-founded by Rabbi Marc Schneier, a graduate of Yeshiva University and its Orthodox Seminary, who is also Vice President of the American Section of the World Jewish Congress. Schneier is the son of a revered member of the orthodox rabbinate. His father Rabbi Arthur Schneier is a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, senior rabbi at the Manhattan Park East Synagogue who heads the Appeal to Conscience Foundation. The elder Schneier was a friend of the late Tom Lantos, the only holocaust survivor to serve in the US House of Representatives. Rabbi Arthur Schneier is the recipient of a Presidential Medal from former President Clinton for his human rights work involving the Soviet Jewry Campaign of the 1970’s and 1980’s, as well as issues in the Balkans and China.
West End Synagogue in Manhattan and Imam Souleimane Konate
Rabbi Marc Schneier endeavored to replicate his father’s gravitas on human rights issues by co-founding FFEU with Richard Simmons, an African American rap music and clothing mogul. The problem is that Schneier and Simmons conspired to conflate Muslim complaints of Islamophobia with a human rights issue. The first place they saw an opening was with Jews, whom they thought might be empathetic, hence the creation of the FFEU program twinning synagogues and Mosques. Problem is that the twinning program has turned out to be a danger to Jews.
We have taken to task Rabbi Marc Schneier of FFEU that sponsors annual twinnings of synagogues and mosques throughout the US, the EU and even, Turkey. You can see the list for the most recent twinnings that occurred over the weekend of November 18th-20th on the FFEU website, here. There you will notice twinnings in the US involving MB front groups like the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the latter with Hillel Chapters on some university campuses. When we interviewed Dr. Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), he talked about their uncovering a twinning event with Syrian terrorism sponsors and antisemitic Imams that forced the Buffalo, New York Jewish community to abandon that twinning episode.
Note this exchange during an interview with Jacobs on the Buffalo twinning fiasco:
Gordon: You exposed an example of Jewish Muslim Dialogue gone wrong sponsored by a New York based group called the FFEU whose head is Rabbi Marc Schneier, who is also a Vice President for the World Jewish Congress.
Jacobs: This is an example of the dangers of unexamined Jewish Muslim dialogue. Rabbi Marc Schneier’s group, FFEU intends to”twin” mosques with synagogues in 100 cities, for the purpose of “interfaith dialogue.” In Newsweek, he claimed that Buffalo was a great success. Well, we were contacted by a grandmother in Buffalo who told us that her synagogue was twinning with a Muslim group. She had researched on the internet some of the people involved and found them problematic and was seeking help from us. Our APT research director Ilya Feoktistov does superb research. Regarding the Muslim dialogue partners in Buffalo, he found a typical disconnect. On their English websites it was all kumbaya, brotherhood and Abrahamic relationships. However, on their Arabic sites it was quite different. The Jews and Israel were horrible. Ilya prepared a Power Point presentation based on his research. We flew to Buffalo. We met privately with the ADL, the Federation, other Jewish leaders, and school teachers. We held a public meeting with the Jewish leadership and concerned citizens. We had over 40 people in attendance, among them were two of the three Rabbis who had signed on to twin with Mosques under the FFEU program. Ilya presented his documentation. It turned out that the revered mentor of the Muslim partner had hosted Nazis and Farrakhan in his mosque and wrote terrible things about Jews in his book. The Rabbis were visibly upset. Then they did an unusual thing: they admitted that they made a terrible mistake in public. They apologized to the community. Then they withdrew from Schneier’s twinning program. It was hard for them to do, but these are righteous men. We hope to use this episode as an example for the rest of the American Jewish community. I called Rabbi Marc Schneier and spoke with him about the Buffalo twinning exposé, but to no avail. This is happening around the country because of failed Jewish leadership. A leadership which simply has no idea of what to do about Islamic radicalism in America. They are conflict-averse; they have fallen into the trap of believing that if they say one thing critical of a Muslim leader in America, they would be castigated as defamers, Islamophobes, bigots, and racists. This is a very dangerous thing for the Jewish community. Even more so if Jews give radical Muslim leaders a good housekeeping seal of approval, by being seen to be in dialogue with them, then effectively they have given radicals a key to the city. This is a very dangerous situation.
Rabbi Schneier’s FFEU persists in the delusion that these interfaith encounters further “dialogue and understanding.” These FFEU twinning events are effectively da’wah opportunities for their Muslim partners. The twinning event that was held the weekend of November 18th at Manhattan’s West Side “new age” egalitarian conservative synagogue, B’nai Jeshurun, featured none other than Daisy Khan of the American Society for the Advancement of Muslims, wife of controversial Imam Abdul Feisal Rauf of the Cordoba House Initiative and what many believe is the failed ground zero mosque project. In the JTA account of that FFEU twinning event at B’nai Jeshurun, Ms. Khan uttered this taqiyya comment totally lost on her Jewish interlocutors:
Asked about the concept of twinning, Arline Kane, a Jewish participant, answered that “It means that we are finding out we are closer than we think.”
Khan also noted the commonality between the traditions.
“Islam,” she said, “is like a 1,400-year-old Jewish tradition.”
There was another twinning event that weekend which was cancelled at the last minute at a West Side Manhattan synagogue, that The Jewish Daily Forward covered in an article, “Synagogue Hopes To Build Mosque's Trust.“ The Jewish Daily Forward story attests to the mindset of liberal Jews who venerate the liberal interpretation of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam – “repairing the world.” It is about a twinning that never happened between the West End Synagogue in Manhattan and West African immigrants in Imam Souleimane Konate’s Masjid Aqsa Mosque in Harlem. Why? Because many members of the Masjid Aqsa Mosque, who hail from the Ivory Coast and Senegal, are “hard working” illegal aliens who were afraid of exposure to the authorities.
The Jewish Daily Forward picked up the threads of this complicated tale:
When members of New York City’s West End Synagogue were recently disinvited at the 11th hour from a long-anticipated Friday gathering with Muslims at Harlem’s Masjid Aqsa, some involved in organizing the meeting feared that hard-line mosque members were behind the cancelation.
But at the synagogue the next morning, the mosque’s imam, Souleimane Konate, showed up to take part in Sabbath services, fulfilling his part in the weekend twinning arrangement the two congregations had planned together. Furthermore, Konate informed the West End congregants that his followers’ decision to disinvite them stemmed not from anger or hostility, but from fear.
“Immigration [agents], what they are doing, is separating families,” Konate said. “We have many cases where a father has been deported leaving behind his wife and kids. We are not criminals. We are hard working people.”
Konate, a native of the Ivory Coast, explained that the majority of his 1,200-member congregation consists of immigrants from West Africa — many of whom are undocumented. The congregants include cab drivers and cart vendors who work tirelessly to send money back home to support their families and communities, he said. But many have had experiences with scam artists claiming to help with immigration paperwork. All of them have seen other members of the community deported, he said, resulting in distrust and fear of any outsider.
Imam Konate when he spoke at this liberal West Side Reconstructionist Synagogue put in his da’wa pitch:
In his guest sermon before West End Synagogue congregants, Konate explained that during that particular weekend, Muslims commemorate the death of Abraham — patriarch to Muslims as well as to Jews. Abraham’s death was an opportunity for his sons, Ishmael and Isaac, to come together to bury their father, he noted, adding that the weekend signaled opportunity for the two congregations, as well.
Of course there was nothing about Muslims under Mohammed engaging in wholesale massacres, rapes and enslavement of Jewish tribes and enforcing dhimmitude on the frightened remainder in Arabia, which effectively made it judenrein. None of the congregants probably were not conversant in the Qur’an to ask about Sura 5:51: “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he among you that turns to them for friendship is of them.”
So what do these West End Synagogue members do in response to Imam Konate’s guest sermon?
Synagogue members offered words of support in response. “It seems to boil down to being the stranger,” said Eileen Sobel, a congregant in attendance. “Gehr in Hebrew means ‘stranger.’ It’s very important to realize that at any time, we can become a stranger.”
Others from the congregation offered material support. Jerry Posman, who serves as vice president for finance and administration at City College, expressed his desire to collaborate with Konate in setting up scholarships for undocumented youth who wish to pursue higher education.
“As Jews, we try to understand our identity, which emphasizes an awareness of the outsider,” said Rabbi Marc Margolius, West End Synagogue’s spiritual leader. “The imam’s concerns really struck a chord with my congregation and even helped the congregation relate.”
We wonder if the rabbi and his congregation would dare to ask Imam Konate how many members of his mosque have polygamous marriages and take their daughters back to the Ivory Coast for female genital mutilation procedures.
After this revelation in the Daily Forward about this twinning event, the New York regional office of the ICE might have more than a passing interest in monitoring the Masjid Aqsa Mosque. As for the West Side Synagogue spiritual leader Rabbi Marc Margolius, he’d better consult with his board and worthy counsel about what liability is attached to their providing aid to illegal alien Muslims from the Ivory Coast.
Chancellor Eisen of the JTS: Maimonides said that “Muhammad was Ha- Meshugga – crazy”
When Dr. Arnold Eisen was appointed Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), many in the Conservative movement thought this might be the start of a new era. That was the hope given his earnest outreach meetings with Conservative congregations across the US and Canada.
That prospect ended with the JTS announcement of a program on October 25th, 2010.
The Jewish Theological Seminary, in partnership with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Hartford Seminary, was hosting an innovative roundtable discussion, “Judaism and Islam in America Today: Assimilation and Authenticity.”
The JTS objective in sponsoring the program was spelled out in the announcement:
“Despite a history of close relationships and religious dialogue spanning more than a millennium, the difficult recent relations between Jews and Muslims have created a degree of mistrust and misunderstanding that many religious and communal leaders are eager to resolve. Both the workshop and public roundtable will offer an opportunity for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders to come together and discuss the points of commonality in Jewish and Muslim experience in this country. Participants will also explore ways in which American Jews and Muslims, with all that they share, can work toward better cooperation.”
The ‘history’ that Chancellor Eisen cited never existed. Highly respected contemporary scholars have given us an accurate picture of Muslim-Jewish relations, a history of humiliation and subordination. Among them are Bat Ye'or, beginning with her early work “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam”, Andrew Bostom in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, and rabbi, theologian and D.H.L., honoris causa from JTS, Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein in his book, Jihad and Genocide.
By facilitating this dialogue, Eisen condoned the implacable anti-Jewish hatred at the core of Islamic doctrine. He did not follow the sage advice given by Maimonides, “the Rambam,” in his famous Iggeret Teiman, Epistle to Jews in Yemen, surrounded as they were by Jihadi Muslims. As indicated by Andrew Bostom in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Maimonides noted this about Mohammed in the letter written in 1172 C.E. to Jacob Ben Netan'el al-Fayymi, who headed the Jewish community in Yemen.
“After him arose the Madman [ha-meshugga] who emulated his precursor since he paved the way for him. But he added the further objective of procuring rule and submission, and he invented his well known religion.”
Then there is this additional comment from the Iggeret Teiman
“Remember, my co-religionists, that on account of the vast number of our sins, G-d has hurled us in the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us […] Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they. Therefore when David, of blessed memory, inspired by the holy spirit, envisaged the future tribulations of Israel, he bewailed and lamented their lot only in the Kingdom of Ishmael, and prayed in their behalf, for their deliverance, as is implied in the verse, “Woe is me that I sojourn with Meschech that I dwell beside the tents of Kedar.” (Psalms 120:5).
Maimonides fled his native Cordoba during the era of the fanatic Berber Almohads who stormed across the Straits of Gibraltar to take over Al Andaluz in Muslim occupied Spain. The Almohads perpetrated some of the more heinous pogroms of Spanish Jewry. Thus, the myth of “la convivencia“ that some of the JTS faculty and distinguished graduates have perpetrated is a dangerous historical delusion. After all the Alhambra predated the Almohads occupation of Spain. Maimonides had no such delusions. But Chancellor Eisen did.
By sponsoring this program in association with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Hartford Seminary, Eisen may have inadvertently advanced the Grand Jihad plan of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. That Grand Jihad plan would insinuate Sharia Islamic law supplanting the US Constitution, with its guarantees of free speech and equal justice for all.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson, former President of ISNA is a Canadian convert to Islam and member of the faculty of the Hartford Seminary's Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Professor of Islamic Studies. Dr. Mattson will move on in June 2012 to a comparable academic post at the Anglican Theology program of Huron University College (HUC) affiliated with the University of Western Ontario. Her endowed chair at HUC is funded in part by local affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood. During her tenure at the Hartford Seminary, Dr. Mattson headed a program for certifying Muslim Chaplains for our armed services and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. ISNA was one of several Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America cited as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial. ISNA, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) engaged in funneling upwards of $36 million in funds to Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization designated by our State Department. In the course of that trial, federal prosecutors unearthed and presented evidence of the secret Grand Jihad plans of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. ISNA, NAIT and CAIR tried unsuccessfully to petition the Federal court in Dallas to expunge their names from the cited list of unindicted co-conspirators. The Federal court rejected the petitions based on the evidence of the record in the Holy Land Foundation trial.
Dr. Mattson evinced support for fundamentalist Islamic doctrine when shortly following 9/11 she characterized Saudi Wahhabism, a puritanical and vicious doctrine hateful towards Jews and all unbelievers, misleadingly as “reformist.” Wahhabism denies the rights of free worship by non-believers in Saudi Arabia something that we hold precious in our Constitution. A Constitution that Wahhabism considers Jahiliyya (man made ignorance) and a shirk (or sin) for professing Muslims to lawfully follow.
She engaged in moral relativism juxtaposing Western criticism of Islam and terrorism with the late Osama bin Laden using Islamic doctrine to commit violence.
In a September 2002 interview with PBS, Mattson stated that she did not see “any difference” between Christian leaders criticizing Islam or al- Qaida on the one hand, and Osama bin Laden citing “Islamic theology to justify violence against Americans” on the other.
In an essay, “Halacha, Sharia and the Religious Acceptance of Constitutional Governance” in the October 2009 New English Review, Rabbi Jon Hausman underlined why our Constitution is paramount for Jews and all Americans.
There is a basic Rabbinic principle that has operated since roughly the year 226 CE. That principle is known as Dina d'malchuta Dina (the law of the country is binding).
What were the practical reasons for the adoption of such a Halachic principle? There are many suppositions posited. However, the Rabbis who functioned between the years 200 – 630 CE were very practical. The Rabbis during this four plus century period recognized that Jews had to develop and maintain positive relationships with the governing non-Jewish civil society (e.g. Parthian and subsequent Sassanid Persian rulers of Babylonia) which surrounded the Jewish community.
Samuel, the leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in 241 CE, specifically imbued his community with the consciousness that one must be reconciled to changed circumstances regarding government, and that civil law is necessary for the functioning of the greater society. The result was an internal recognition of Judaism's non-supercessionist and non-conversionary character. According to the Prophet Nehemiah, Jews should obey the laws of their rulers (Nehemiah 9:37).
We beseeched Chancellor Eisen, to reconsider and cancel the JTS sponsorship of this program. We told him that by doing so he was misleading his fellow Jews that dialogue with a supremacist Islam dismissive of Jews and all non-believers produces mutual respect. He went on with the program at the JTS and even discussed scheduled a second one. Eisen neglected to heed Maimonides' warning to fellow Yemenite Jews a millennium ago, that Mohammed was “meshugga” and that the revered Jewish sage’s warning was directly relevant today. Dr. Mattson who participated in the JTS event categorically supports the supremacy of Sharia over the US Constitution violating the good sense of the Talmudic principle. Chancellor Eisen of the JTS has ill served his fellow Jews in the Conservative movement by deluding them that dialogue with Muslims will produce tolerance. Such dialogue like those of Chancellor Eisen and the JTS put co-religionists at risk of tolerating those whose doctrine has been since ancient times intolerant of them, opposed to their existence.
Abe Foxman’s Delusions about Islam and Sharia
In September 2010, after mildly criticizing the Ground Zero Mosque project in New York, the ADL under its long term executive director, Abe Foxman, formed another ecumenical group, the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) to defend Mosque projects elsewhere in America. The ICOM-ADL filed amicus curiae brief in the Murfreesboro Chancery Court proceedings. The ICM-ADL brief paralled one the US Department of Justice filed in support of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro expansion plan project, the subject of the Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearing. A hearing brought by community plaintiffs contesting approvals by the Rutherford County Planning Commission and County Commissioners.
The ADL in its amicus curiae brief lauded itself as having been in the forefront of pushing for enactment of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000 passed by the US Congress. RLUIPA is now being used ironically to exempt Mosques from local zoning approvals across the US. The ADL contended that under RLUIPA the ICM had every right to build its 52,000 square foot complex in Rutherford County. The USDOJ amicus curiae brief contested plaintiffs’ arguments about Islam not being a religion, but a political doctrine in possible violation of the US Constitution. The USDOJ argued that Islam is a religion covered by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Note the bizarre comment of the ADL Civil Rights representative as regards the revelations by Steven Emerson of The Investigative Project on Terrorism and others. They found on a member of the ICM board’s MySpace Page support for Hamas, a foreign terrorist group designated by the State Department.
Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights for the ADL, which sponsors a newly-formed Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, is one of those who maintain that Rawash’s political preference is irrelevant.
Lauter allegedly told the Los Angeles Times that if all the members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro were public cheerleaders for Hamas, it would still be illegal to discriminate against them because the First Amendment protects freedom of worship.
The ADL is in denial about the threat of Sharia in America from expansion of mosques largely backed by Muslim Brotherhood groups and financed through the Saudi funded North American Islamic Trust. The ADL has been deluded by its focus on teaching tolerance and diversity in America while derogating Christian Zionists, defenders of Israel and the Jewish people’s Biblical and legal rights to the Holy Land.
In 2005 at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, I confronted Foxman about the Christianization threat to America. In an Iconoclast post, I noted the exchange:
. . . I chose to address a comment that Foxman made early in his talk about the threat from “Christianization of America.”
I suggested that his talk was a diversion from the real threat: Radical Islam, not only abroad, but here in America. I cited the study released and published in the Jerusalem Post by Yehudit Barsky of the American Jewish Committee citing that 80% of American mosques were “radicalized.”
[. . . ] I asked, “What was he going to do about this?”
What Foxman said was, “that’s a speech and talk for another time. I think it’s in one of the chapters” of my book Never Again.”
Foxman doesn’t get it and with the exception of several in the audience who do get it, most were totally oblivious.
Oblivious because Abe Foxman and the ADL do not understand the context of those anti-Semitic incidents that the ADL reports and publishes. Many of the incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses are actions by supporters of Radical Islam. Foxman, as Judy Block said who attended this lecture by the ADL national director, doesn’t understand the context of what changes have occurred in the U.S. that gave rise to the Christian Evangelical movement.
Foxman was to repeat this in the summer of 2011, when he took after critics of Sharia Law in America who were endeavoring to warn Americans of this threat. That threat was addressed in the Shariah: Threat to America-An Exercise in Competitive Analysis (Team B II Report) produced by the Washington, DC-based Center for Security Policy. Recognition of that threat led to the launch of state legislative initiatives in more than 13 jurisdictions under the rubric of American Law for American Courts (ALAC). ALAC was developed by one of the Team B II Report co-authors, David Yerushalmi, Esq., on behalf of his client, the American Public Policy Alliance. Versions of ALAC have been passed in Louisiana, Arizona and Tennessee, and has been introduced in ten other states.
Foxman castigated this legislative bulwark against the rising threat of Shariah in an Op-Ed, Opinion: “The Threat of Sharia Law: It's All a Matter of Myth Making” published in late August 2011 in a number of Jewish Federation weekly newspapers across America. He wrote:
The threat of the infiltration of Sharia, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years. The notion that Islam is insidiously making inroads in the United States through the application of religious law is seeping into the mainstream, with even some presidential candidates voicing fears about the supposed threat of Sharia to our way of life.
[. . .]
All of this anti-Sharia activity has come despite the complete absence of evidence of the unconstitutional application of foreign or religious law in our judicial system. It has also come with a great deal of political handwringing — and myth making — about the threat of Sharia overtaking this country. This has led, in turn, to a false perception among a growing number of Americans that Sharia is a very real threat to our way of life and constitutional freedoms.
But the anti-Sharia bills are more than a matter of unnecessary public policy. These measures are, at their core, predicated on prejudice and ignorance. They constitute a form of camouflaged bigotry that enables their proponents to advance an idea that finds fault with the Muslim faith and paints all Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders.
It is true that Sharia is being used elsewhere around the world in dangerous ways. While Sharia law can address many daily public and private concerns, it is nonetheless subject to radical interpretation by individuals or groups who subscribe to a more puritanical form of Islamic jurisprudence. Some individuals try to interpret Sharia law for their own radical agendas. It raises more serious concerns when it comes to implementing Sharia law in its entirety, as can be seen with the examples of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. But that certainly doesn't apply to America, where concerns about a “creeping Sharia law” are the stuff of pure paranoia.
If the hysteria over Sharia law continues to percolate through our political and social discourse, there is bound to be unintended consequences.
The threat of Shariah, dismissed by Foxman and the ADL, was visibly on display at the mid-December 2011 State Department Istanbul Process Conference on Combating Intolerance, with representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, the EU and other foreign delegations. The conference was seeking to advance adoption of Sharia blasphemy codes in contradiction to free speech guarantees of the First Amendment. A conference that Nina Shea, executive director of the Hudson Institute for Religious Freedom called ”perverse.”
The ADL’s delusion of what lies behind the eruption of mega-mosques, our government’s consideration of the blasphemy codes of Sharia, and our court system accommodation of Islamic law nearly rivals that of the infamous Judenrate Jewish councils in Nazi – occupied Europe who sacrificed their own coreligionists during the Holocaust. A holocaust that ultimately killed six million Jewish men, women and children. The irony is that Foxman is himself a holocaust survivor and should understand the close parallels between Nazi annihilationist doctrine and that of normative Islam.
The Forward in a December 9, 2011 article reported:
The ADL has lost more than $20 million in annual contributions over the past five years, going from more than $73 million in 2006 down to $51 million in 2010, according to its latest tax filings. That is a 30% fall-off, before taking inflation into account.
Perhaps the plummeting ADL contributions are more than just a reflection of straightened economic conditions. It may also reflect Jews and others closing their checkbooks in the face of Foxman’s delusions as to who are the Jewish people’s and America’s enemies.
Imam Abdullah Faaruuq of the ISBCC and Dr. Charles Jacobs of APT June 26, 2009
Charles Jacobs confronts the moral blindness of the Boston Jewish community
Charles Jacobs is the gadfly of the Boston Jewish community, active in human rights causes, especially in the counter-Jihad movement. His leadership in formation of Boston-based groups like CAMERA, the Middle East media watchdog, the David Project, American Anti-Slavery Group fighting Islamic slavery in the Sudan, and Americans for Peace and Tolerance have been given recognition nationally and internationally. However, Jacobs, not unlike the Biblical Prophet Jeremiah is ‘unloved’ by many of Boston’s Jewish community leaders, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (the Jewish Federation of Greater Boston), the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. The latter issued the moral equivalent of a rabbinic fatwa against him for criticizing one of their members who dialoged with a leader of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). The ISBCC is governed by a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in America, the local chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS). The ISBCC Mosque leaders had initiated a highly visible and expensive lawsuit in the period from 2005 to 2007 against Jacobs, the David project, the Boston Herald American and FoxNews local affiliate WFXT for uncovering close associations with terror financiers, especially convicted felon and ISBCC Trustee, Abdurahman Alamoudi.
In our NER article on the dedication of the ISBCC in August, 2009, “Chelm on the Charles River,” we revealed what Jacobs and a small band of critics were saying about the foolishness of Boston’s Jewish Community along with Governor Derval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. They were all rushing to embrace the project built on city-owned land in the Roxbury section and the ISBCC mosque leaders affiliated with the MB.
In our January 2010, interview with him, Jacobs noted the moral dilemma that confronts the Boston rabbinate and Jewish communal leaders and many others throughout the US have when dialoguing with the extremist fringe of Islam.
Gordon: You were the object of scorn in an open letter sent by more than 70 reform and reconstructionist Rabbis to the Jewish community in Boston. Why did they criticize you? Does their act set a dangerous precedent for not only Boston but the American Jewish Community?
Jacobs: I may well be the first target of a Rabbinic Fatwa in the country. We patiently explained the dangers to many of these liberal progressive Rabbis. We showed them who the ISB trustees are. We showed them that the group that subsequently took over the running of the mosque, the Muslim American Society (MAS), was identified by Federal Prosecutors in the Dallas Federal Holy Land Foundation trial and convictions as the “overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” We showed these progressive rabbis that the ISB were bringing in speakers who said the Holocaust is a hoax; Jews want to destroy the Muslims, that Christianity is theological filth, that homosexuals and apostates should be killed and women should be beaten. And that no Muslim should be guided by democratic procedures, only by Allah. After we explained this to the progressive Rabbis, most of them still wanted to dialogue and they still didn’t want to tell their own constituencies what they knew. They would admit to us that “yes,” this is problematic, but they didn’t want to tell their own people. One member of this group of progressive Rabbis went to the ISBCC mosque and appeared in the pages of the Boston Globe embracing the leader of the mosque, Bilal Kaleem. I wrote a Boston Jewish Advocate column criticizing this rabbi. All Hell broke loose. Within a very short time following the publication of my critical column they got 70 colleagues to sign an Open Letter to the Community criticizing me for taking to task one of their own, and defaming me as one who was a defamer of the entire Boston Muslim community.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that on December 21, 2010, a Federal District Court in Boston convicted Tarek Mehanna “on four counts related to his desire to provide support to al-Qaida and three counts of lying to federal investigators.” The IPT report went on to cite what enabled federal prosecutors to obtain Mehanna’s conviction:
A former friend who struck a deal with prosecutors testified about a 2004 trip he and Mehanna made to Yemen in hopes of attending a terrorist training camp. They planned to go to Iraq after that to fight American troops.
When that didn't work, Mehanna came back to the United States and translated jihadi videos, including al-Qaida's “39 Ways to Make Jihad.” Defense attorneys argued the work was protected free speech. But prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty told jurors the translations provided terrorists “training material to get ready to serve and participate in that fight.”
We raise this because the head of the Free Tarek Mahanna Committee was none other than Imam Abdullah Faaruuq of the ISBCC who is also Muslim Chaplain at Northeastern University. Faaruuq also held fund raisers for Afia Saddique known as “Lady Al-Qaida.” Saddique, the IPT reported was:
an MIT-educated neuroscientist, arrested by Afghan officials in 2008, who found notes about mass casualty attacks in her possession. During questioning by U.S. officials, she grabbed an Army officer's M-4 rifle and fired it at the Americans.
In our NER expose of the ISBCC and the Boston Jewish community, we noted an encounter between Faaruuq and Jacobs, the former presenting him with roses as a peace offering. That was in June, 2009. Given these recent revelations about Faaruuq, Jacobs is now leading a campaign to have Faaruuq discharged as Chaplain at Northeastern U for his support of radical Islamic terrorist causes. Do you think that Jacobs will be supported by his fellow Boston Jews who support more dialogue in the form of the local Jewish Muslim Relations Council? Persistent delusion among American Jewish leaders about dialogue with radical Muslim leaders is dangerous. We should be grateful for morally incorruptible challengers like Jacobs and others. If not for them, more American Jews would continue to be deluded.
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