Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Will People of Good Will Stand Together Against Hate?

Democracy and responsibility are not the same thing. While I welcome, support, and encourage democratic movements among all peoples, I have to recognize that they may use their new freedoms to foster ideas that I find hateful and threatening. Case in point: the return to prominence in Egypt of Sheik Yusuf al–Qaradawi, an anti-Semitic preacher of hate.

In a 2009 television interview on Al Jazeera, the Sheik claimed that Hitler was sent by Allah as an act of “divine punishment” for the “corruption” that is the Jewish people, and he hoped that Muslims would carry on this work. In a separate interview, al–Qaradawi expressed his hope that before he died he would have the opportunity to go to the “land of jihad” and shoot Jews.

Sheik Yusuf al–Qaradawi is a major player in the Islamic revival, an advisor to the Muslim Brotherhood, a media star hosting “Sharia and Life” on Al Jazeera, and a symbol of Egyptian freedom who delivered the Tahrir Square sermon on February 18 to a million Muslims. I worry that the Arab principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” will encourage the emerging democratic leaders to double down on Jew-hatred and use anti–Israel sentiment to cement their positions of power.

What can we do about this? First, know it is coming. Second, talk to your Muslim friends and neighbors about it. Third, ask that your local Muslim leaders take the moral high ground in this, and preemptively speak out publically to their communities and to the media in general about the evils of Jew–hatred. If they are afraid, offer to stand with them. If they refuse, think seriously about standing against them.

Liberal Jews and rabbis have long been doing the same with regard to anti–Islamic feelings among Jews and others: at this very moment, I am working against the hate–filled Tennessee law seeking to outlaw Sharia and hence Islam in the state of Tennessee. Now it is time for our Muslim colleagues to do the same for us among their fellow Muslims.

Will they? I don’t know. Challenge them, and report what you find.

14 comments:

Peter Schogol said...

The question is: how integral a part will Islam play in the new governance of Egypt (and, we continue to hope, Libya)? That Islam need not be that influential can be seen in Tunisia. Must we expect it to be so in Egypt?

Lou Mindar said...

Hate, regardless of the form it takes, should be abhorred and resisted by people of good will. This is true whether the hate is taking place in Tennessee,Egypt, or anywhere in between.

Aron said...

Anyone plan on doing civil disobedience by practicing sharia in Tennessee if the law does pass? I just wonder what would happen if a bunch of Jews (or anyone else for that matter) went to the state house and read Islamic prayers?

Malka said...

Let's hope that the social networking revolution that helped THIS revolution can also be used to spread tolerance and peace.

andrea perez said...

:( Saw it coming. They kill people who disagree with them. Can't really see them standing with us. Sorry. The test will be to see how long it takes for them to turn on the Coptics in Egypt. Since our media has switched gears and no longer reports on Egypt, just Libya, guess we won't know until they have a mass killing at another mass. Hope it doesn't break your heart . It gets lonely defending the rights of others while they stand on the sidelines holding stones to throw at you. :(

David said...

How effective is this? I mean, the Muslim mainstream in Egypt, Jordan, Iran, and Pakistan is beyond bizarre. Should local Islamic leaders also have to renounce stoning adulterers and cutting off limbs of thieves? Because anti-semitism is just one part of that cluster of backwardness.

rickarmand1 said...

cultural transformation through the democratic process must allow all voices equal rights regardless of content...
america is still vetting the madness as we expose our own bigotry and religious hypocracy after hundreds of years of free speech...
anger and hatred are the ill children of fear, and fear the manipulative tool of most religions and tyrannical governments...
to vilify is to perpetuate conflict...
to heal sick minds is the transformation to freedom...
i'll meet you at the state house aron...:)

Judy said...

Why assume that a few loud voices in a country represent how the whole country/religion feels? If we use that logic then I hate to see how that represents the USA with its Sarah Palins and Glen Becks who rule the airways.

Is there anti-semitic stance in Egypt? Certainly. If Israel was more responsible and humane towards the Palestinians/Syrians/Egyptians/etc would that improve how Egyptians view and interact with Israel - without a doubt. Do all Egyptian Muslims want to kill all the Jews? Don't be ridiculous.

Unfortunately there will always be a hate filled voice that is used to represent a nation, religion, or a group of people. I agree with you that if we find hate then we have a responsibility to preach love but we cannot place hate on someone that has not shown it. Why should Muslims always be forced to prove that they don't hate everyone? We don't ask the same of any other religion. It's insulting and I'm surprised to see such generalities put on your blog especially.

eashtov said...

Shalom Rav,

Well put, especially your challenge to Muslim clergy to
stand up and speak out.

And we'll all know more in the fulness of time.

Wholeness,
Jordan

andrea perez said...

To Judy:
We do place Judaism on a level above the ethics of other religions...that is one of the major reasons Israel gets attacked for hypocrisy well above the norm of other countries in that region. Many of us have a hugh sense of shame when one of our own is acting in a bigoted or hateful way towards others. We openly condeme such behavior and cry for change. We don't give Israel a free pass and expect much more from them. And many of us openly call for change making members of our own communities angry with us for not being loyal at all costs.
The point is, why do we (Jews) always have to go it alone or for that matter be the trail blazers. It would be nice if Tikkun Olam was universal and that wrong is wrong regardless of religious affiliation. Maybe everyone should be starting with an apology and a real willingness to take responsibility for our collective actions.
And yes, if Muslims, Christians, whatever "isms" are calling for the collective destruction of minority people within their countries, then there needs to be a moderate voice calling for calm and acceptance. We rarely hear that voice coming from the mid-east from Muslim clerics. The opposition rarely lets them live long enough to be a force for change. There needs to be that voice coming from outside, such as moderate Muslims here in the states calling for peaceful resolutions. I haven't heard it and that does concern me.

Basha's Mama said...

Andrea - perhaps the reason you haven't heard moderate Muslims calling for peace is because you aren't listening. Rami himself has stated on this blog that many Muslim leaders and clerics in the west repeatedly decry acts of violence and terrorism. That they look for ways to unite together to live in peace. Which brings me back to my first comment - how many times do peaceful, moderate Muslims have to explain themselves and apologize for the actions of people that believe in a perverted version of their own religion? How many times will be enough to satisfy us? And why do we only demand it of them?

As you said, we don't hear the moderate clerics in the mid-east because they are either silenced (in the radical sections of certain countries) or it's just a part of normal life and it doesn't make for good tv or media coverage. "What a Muslim calling for peace? Oh my we can't film that let's go find the crazy one calling for destruction."

Have you toured every mosque and meeting place and recorded every sermon and made research about the % of sermons that call for destruction of minorities vs those that just teach you how to live a Godly life? You once again perpetuate this feeling that all Muslims in the middle East call for hate and death of their enemies.

Perhaps for the Muslims that live here in the states they can apease you by always introducing themselves as, "Hi I'm a Muslim and I'm against XYZ, I'm for universal peace, and I'm sorry for all actions of wrong that were done in a different country, through a different sect, and a different ethnic group - but really it all reflects back on me." Perhaps if they say it often enough and wear t-shirts and put signs on their cars...

Prejudice against Muslims in this country is an acceptable and encouraged form of hatred. The things said about the peaceful Muslim congregation in this town would have caused an outrage if they were said about any other minority group.

Blogs such as this that say moderate Muslims are not doing enough to promote peace (when they really are) or demand that you questions every Muslim about what they believe do Muslims an injustice and perpetuate these feelings that "well they didn't put up a billboard about it so they must really support terrorism".

Basha's Mama said...

Clarification that Judy is Basha's Mama - I never know which blogger account I'm logged in as...

andrea perez said...

Sorry Judy...again,
No one is asking anyone to apologize for radicals within their own religion. Don't know what part of the country you are living in, but here our schools are filled with multicultural groups, representing all types of religions and no one makes a big deal about it.
The bit about trying to make sharia law against the law in Tenn. is offensive coming from anyone within the USA.
My point is that all of us need to take the high road. That if push comes to shove Muslims, Jews, Christians, Jains, Hindis...whatever should be working for each other.
When and if some Jewish group would call for the destruction of any other group, I am ashamed and outspoken.
That is the moderating voice. And yes, if need be we would put up a bill board against it. Lots of people have to put up with some really awful bigoted stuff in this country from gays to African Americans, to Jews, to Muslims...at least here we have protected speech. We need to use it.
We used to have groups meeting here regularly prior to 9/11: JAM, an interfaith women's groups...but the last 10 years have silenced many of us and kept us from doing what is right...No, I haven't heard "every" sermon preached in every mosque, but I'm thinking neither have you heard "every" sermon or prayer recited in every temple or church. It's sad that we have to go that route. Used to be, we'd just get together and have a cup or tea. And really ask questions so that we weren't so scared and distrustful of each other.

Judy said...

Andrea -

I apologize if I spent too much time in my previous post being sarcastic and off the point but I get a bit riled up when I hear the age ol' refrain "moderate Muslims aren't speaking up." I live in the same town as Rami and thus we're seeing more than our fair share of anti-Muslim sentiment. Sadly we don't have a happy multi-cultural, Co-Exist world here. But we aren't alone: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/03/04/video-of-anti-muslim-protest-in-orange-county/.

This is why I'm concerned about challenging every Muslim on the street about they believe. These Muslims in Orange County were doing the right thing and the protests against them are shameful. Please also note that I realize that the protest example shown above is not what Rami is calling for. I just show it to support claims of rising prejudice and hate crimes against Muslims.

In general, I appreciate Rami's calls to continually challenge ourselves (in any religion, FYI mine happens to be Christian but my husband is Muslim) to view our respective beliefs with critical eyes. But it's one thing to look at your own beliefs or to challenge a Preacher, Rabbi, or Imam. It's another to give a general call out to question every one in a population that is under such attack. Because however well intentioned you mean it (which I do believe Rami is well intentioned) too many in the population would take it as a McCarthy call to action.

Thankfully I don't believe the readers of this blog would terrorize their Muslims neighbors so I'm in effect shouting to the wind... But if you find your Muslim neighbor is a bit battle worn please don't berate them for not saying enough.