Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
A Muslim-Jewish organization could be a wonderful idea – if it had the right goals and the right partners – namely, Zionist Jews and Reformist Muslims dedicated to ending BDS; ending rampant harassment and attacks on Jewish students by organized radical Islamist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP); ending fear-mongering exaggerated “Islamophobia” claims; ending radical Islamist terrorism against Israel, Jews, Christians, fellow Muslims and the West; and promoting Arab and Muslim recognition of and peaceful co-existence with the Jewish State.
Unfortunately, the new “Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council” (MJAC), established by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), six days after the election of President-elect Donald Trump, has the wrong goals and the wrong – or no – real partners, and could legitimize and mainstream radical Islamists.
The MJAC’s goals ignore the fact that the real problem is that radical Islamist groups such as SJP and ISNA promote anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel and Jews, and harass and intimidate Jewish students on college campuses. Jews are the targets and victims of radical Islamists. Muslims are not the target of Jewish groups.
ISNA is infamous for its links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas: ISNA was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, involved in funneling money to Hamas. ISNA convention speakers delegitimize Israel, justified the Holocaust as punishment for the Jews’ “disobedience to Allah,” and “featured Mavi Marmara flotilla participants, representing them as innocent peace activists who merely responded to Israeli brutality.” (See “American Muslims: The Community and Their Relations with Jews,” by Noam Ivri, JCPOA, Jan. 18, 2011.)
Moreover, the MJAC’s Muslim members include radical Islamists – while reformist Muslims are absent from the new collaboration. “Jewish Liberals, When Will They Ever Learn? There They Go, Reaching Out Again To Those Who Would Gladly See Them Disappear,” by Prof. Phyllis Chesler, Israel National News, 11/15/16.
Renowned Muslim Reformer Dr. Zhudi Jasser stated about the AJC-ISNA alliance “This is very concerning. The AJC, long we thought an ally of anti-Islamist reformists appears to have now joined the mainstreaming of established American Islamists and their organizations and ilk.” (Nov. 14, 2016 4:06 p.m. tweet.)
Likewise, Canadian Muslim Reformer Tarek Fatah tweeted (@TarekFatah Nov 15): “Really? AJC & ISNA form Muslim-Jewish Council? Whats wrong with Jews? Aligning themselves with #MuslimBrotherhood?”
We have already started to see what happens when a liberal Jewish group such as AJC foolishly tries to get into bed with a radical Hamas funder such as ISNA. The MJAC collaboration has already apparently become a one-way street – to address Muslim complaints without addressing the virulent radical Islamist anti-Semitic anti-Israel hatred that is a leading cause and excuse for anti-Semitism in America.
Shortly after MJAC’s establishment was announced, ISNA promptly declared that it had not approved the AJC-ISNA collaboration, and was “surprised” by AJC’s announcement of the collaboration with ISNA. ISNA also affirmed its continuing commitment to promoting international and domestic Muslim concerns. Those “concerns” include promoting hatred of the Jewish State, promoting the Islamic conquest and the destruction of all of Israel, and opposing anti-BDS laws. (As ISNA co-founder Muzammil Siddiqi had put it: “we will be celebrating . . . the victory of Islam in Palestine. . . . . We shall be celebrating insh’allah the coming of Jerusalem and the whole land of Palestine insh’allah and the establishment of the Islamic State throughout that area.” See Daniel Greenfield, Front Page Mag., Nov. 16, 2016.)
ISNA’s statement pulling back from the MJAC said: “Following the public announcement of the formation of MJAC, an internal inquiry revealed that standard reporting and approval mechanisms were not followed to secure formal approval of ISNA leadership to elevate involvement of ISNA to the level of “co-convener” of MJAC. We were thus surprised to receive the announcement about ISNA’s collaboration with AJC on the formation of the MJAC. . . . Lastly ISNA leadership reiterates that even as ISNA is represented on the MJAC, our principled commitment to domestic and international causes of concern to Muslims will remain strong. We specifically would like to reiterate support for the right of individuals and organizations in the US to peacefully work for human rights and the right of self-determination of Palestinians without fear of legal sanction.” (See “ISNA Pulls Back From Muslim-Jewish Alliance: The Muslim half of the partnership has backed away from full support of the new MJCAC body, citing ‘procedural errors’ and concerns over Israel,” The Clarion Project, Nov. 23, 2016.)
As the Clarion Project explained: “MJAC was specifically established to avoid fighting over Middle East politics and instead focus on issues of domestic concern. ISNA’s couching of the terms of its cooperation — i.e., making sure the Muslim community knows ISNA still hates Israel — weakens their commitment to interfaith harmony.” (Id.)
Interestingly, while AJC’s website, AJC offices and AJC social media are all touting the new AJC-ISNA Muslim-Jewish group, there isn’t a word about the MJAC alliance on ISNA’s website. (Either ISNA never announced the collaboration, or ISNA promptly scrubbed all mention of it.)
And, despite the fact that the MJAC is studiously avoiding supporting Israel-anti-Israel anti-Semitic groups are opposing and withdrawing from the Muslim-Jewish collaboration on social media because they claim it “would violate BDS” or “normalize Zionists.”
This underscores that Jewish groups should collaborate with reformist Muslims – and not with radical Islamists – on the real issues we face.