Religion

Jewish-Muslim Coalition Forms To Fight Against Bigotry

| by Ray Brown

President-elect Donald Trump's stunning victory has led to increased reports of violence and harassment against minorities, resulting in two of the largest Jewish and Muslim groups banding together against bigotry.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) launched the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, a group of religious and business leaders who will work together to come up with legislation and advocacy efforts that benefit their respective communities, reported the Jewish-Telegraphic Agency.

“What’s happened as a result of the poisonous atmosphere that Trump has created is that American Muslims are desperate for allies,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, the Muslim Leadership Initiative’s co-director. “And the argument that MLI has made to the Muslim community — which is that the Jews are, at least in theory, natural allies for embattled Muslims — now has become compelling.”

“Our council is coming at the right time,” said Eftakhar Alam, senior coordinator at ISNA’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, according to the Religion News Service. “We have to show the administration that as American Muslims and Jews — people of the faiths of Abraham — we are uniting to help the administration navigate in the proper constitutional manner, to uphold freedom of religion and constitutional rights for all American citizens.”

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The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is also planning to increase its efforts to provide legal and legislative support to help fight against anti-Muslim bigotry.

“It is a perhaps growing recognition that [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] cannot define how American Jews and American Muslims relate to one another,” said Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, the ADL's director of interreligious engagement. “The shared concerns we have about prejudice, about bias, about threats of violence, about disenfranchisement — these are the kinds of things that can bring us together.” 

The ADL has been vocal about Trump's chief of staff appointee, Steve Bannon.

Bannon was the president of the Breitbart News Network, which has reportedly pushed far-right conservative news stories written in an incendiary manner that many consider to be racist and anti-Semitic.

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In addition, Bannon's ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, said in a 2007 divorce deposition that he didn't want his kids to go to a certain school because there were too many Jews.

"The biggest problem he had with [the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles] is the number of Jews that attend," Piccard said in her statement, signed on June 27, 2007, reported the New York Daily News.

“The ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior advisor and chief strategist in the White House,” the organization said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’”

Sources: Religion News Service, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Washington Post, New York Daily News / Photo credit: Netanel Tobias/Shalom Hartman Institute via Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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