Jews and Christians Play the Interfaith Kumbaya Against Islam

The first chapter of the Koran, Al Fatiha, is recited at the start of Muslim prayer rituals at five different times of the day for a total of 17 recitations daily.  The Al Fatiha entreats Muslims to follow the straight path – obedience to Allah and his messenger Mohammed – and not the path of those who have angered Allah or gone astray.  For centuries, revered Islamic scholars have interpreted this foundational surah of Islamic doctrine as referring to Jews and Christians: Jews as those angering Allah because they know the “truth” about Islam and knowingly reject it, and Christians as those gone astray because they are ignorant of Islam and therefore misguided.  Thus, the idea of both Jews and Christians as having strayed from the “straight path” is reinforced daily and also in later verses of the Koran.

jew christian islamThe significance Al Fatiha can’t be underestimated.  According to Robert Spencer, an expert on Islam and author of 13 books on the subject, “Mohammed said that the Fatiha surpasses anything revealed by Allah.” 

Given the damning inherent in this compulsory prayer and the active and historical enmity of Muslims toward them both, it is puzzling and even dangerous that both Jews and Christians today engage in many interfaith activities and forums with committed Muslims.  Indeed, they often reject alliances with each other, even to the point of occasionally working at cross-purposes.  In the face of the serious worldwide threat Islam poses to both religions, their failure to work together could eventually prove to be a fatal mistake.

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For Jews, the idea of forming alliances with Christians and Christian organizations seems risky, given the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. That history includes blame and damnation for the death of Jesus, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Jewish ghettos, the forced conversions and kidnapping of Jewish children, the pogroms, and unrelenting proselytizing efforts, just to name a few examples.  Equally seared in Jewish consciousness are myriad and fairly recent, 20th century examples of prejudice against employing Jews, admitting Jews to private clubs, accepting Jews at elite prep schools and colleges, and welcoming Jews in certain neighborhoods. 

More recently, Jewish fears of aligning with Christians to counter the mutual threat posed by Islam have not been calmed by the ongoing assault from certain segments of the Christian community that demonize and delegitimize Israel by labeling as “apartheid” efforts by Israel to build security fences to prevent Islamic suicide attacks on its civilians.  The boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movements against the Jewish state by many mainline Protestant churches, plus their alliances with Palestinian groups with ties to terrorism, have also understandably done little to abate Jewish fears of joining forces with Christians.

Given centuries of persecution and discrimination by Christians, a significant percentage of the American Jewish population is wary even of pro-Israel Christians, suspicious of their motivations, and reject expectations of Jewish gratitude.  Another concern is the underlying fear that Christians want to establish a toehold in the Holy Land and await mass conversions by Jews for a “second coming.”

By contrast, many American Jews have little or no direct experience with Islamic anti-Semitism.  They may be unaware of centuries of Jewish massacres – beginning with Mohammed’s siege against the Qurayza Jews in 627 A.D. – and the historical subjugation and persecution of Jews by Muslims, as well as the more recent purging of Jews, 1947 to 1974, from the Middle East and North Africa.  They may know that Muslim anti-Semitism exists, particularly in the Muslim world, but may attribute acts of terrorism against Jews and Jewish establishments as the work of a minority of otherwise “peaceful” Muslims.  Generally, most American Jews, not unlike their Christian counterparts, are relatively unaware of virulent Islamic doctrine that rails against them.

Dangerous Liaisons – Jews & Muslims

Thus, Jews who reach out to Muslims often hold the view that Christianity represents the greater threat.  This perspective has led to some alarming and potentially threatening affiliations and collaborations.

For example, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, founded in 1862 and the oldest synagogue in Los Angeles, has fostered an interfaith program with Muslims for nearly ten years.  This includes an annual Passover Seder, which (ironically given the damning inherent in the Al Fatiha) includes a break for the Islamic call to prayer, and an Iftar breakfast in celebration of the end of Ramadan.  For their recent rededication ceremony following a multi-million dollar renovation, the temple invited Imam Asim Buyuksoy from the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) to give a benediction during which he chanted Arabic verses from the Koran. 

The ICSC background illustrates the folly of these interfaith efforts. According to a report issued by Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), which researches radical Islamic terrorist groups, the ICSC was incorporated as a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) in 1953.  It is an umbrella organization with over 1,000 members and collaborates with over 30 local mosques.  ICC leaders have been tied to Yasser Arafat, the late chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and leader of the Fatah terrorist group, who is commonly referred to as “the father of modern terrorism.” 

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an ICSC offshoot which retains close ties with ICSC and supports BDS efforts, was listed in a recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report as one of the top 10 anti-Israel Groups in America.  ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement that these groups “are fixated on delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated.”

As part of that effort to vilify Israel, Maher Hathout, ICSC spokesman and MPAC founder, has accused Israel of being behind the 9/11 attacks and of pushing the United States into Middle East wars.  He has referred to Israelis as “butchers” guilty of “racial apartheid,” has praised the terrorist group Hezbollah as “freedom fighters,” and condemned U.S. and Israeli counterterrorism policies.

Another Jewish-Muslim interfaith venture, NewGround, described as a “Muslim-Jewish partnership for change,” was established in 2006 as an alliance between MPAC and the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA).  Housed at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, NewGround’s teen leadership program earned it recognition as “California’s 2013 Faith-Based Organization of the Year” by the California governor’s office.  The idea behind this coalition is that outreach and fellowship – knowing people on a personal level – will “bridge the faith boundary.” 

NewGround has created programs, partnerships and consulting relationships with a number of organizations including American Jewish University, Birthright Israel NEXT, the Jewish Home for the Aging, Jewish Family Services, the Museum of Tolerance, UCLA Department of Jewish Studies, and Hebrew Union College, as well as several area temples and the Islamic Center of Southern California.  In addition to the problems previously mentioned about MPAC’s ties and the nefarious statements of its leadership, another questionable MPAC official, Edina Lekovic, serves as NewGround’s chairman of the board. 

Lekovic accused “Zionists” in “Palestine” of “massacring” Muslims, according to an IPT report detailing her activities. The report states that in the late 1990s, while a UCLA student and editor of Al-Talib, UCLA’s Muslim news magazine, Lekovic identified Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter and philanthropist” and urged Muslims to strictly follow Islamic doctrine.  Following bin Laden’s declaration of war on the West, Al-Talib continued to represent him as a “freedom fighter” fighting in “Allah’s cause,” according to the report.   The report continues that Lekovic, still as the Al-Talib editor, published articles claiming that the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdal Rahman, convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind, was falsely accused and tortured in his North Carolina prison cell.  Another article claimed that accounts of the Holocaust were exaggerated and should be subject to scrutiny and possible revision. 

Of course, similar examples across the country abound and it is indeed shocking and disconcerting that prominent Jewish organizations and their members would fail to conduct due diligence and seek alliances with such obviously anti-Semitic, anti-Israel entities such as MPAC, the ICSC, and other Muslim Brotherhood groups when a cursory review of readily available sources exposes their true agenda.  Sadly, Jews who participate in these so-called interfaith forums are operating under the misguided belief that coming to the table in the spirit of peace and reconciliation will motivate Muslims to abandon their 1,400-year- old anti-Semitic doctrine, to forego the Islamic requirement of jihad, to condemn acts of Islamic terrorism on the West, and to join them in fellowship.  

Jews, referred to in Islamic scripture as “the worst of creatures” (Koran 98:6), “transformed by Allah into apes and pigs” (Koran 5:60) and even rats (Bukhari 54:524), are gravely mistaken if they believe they can change an ingrained mindset of such historic proportions and intensity, especially given the background of the  groups referred to above.  

Demonizing Israel

As far as Christian-Muslim interfaith endeavors are concerned, they generally involve joint Christian-Muslim efforts of demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish state in support of Arab-Palestinians using the reasoning that “authentic” Christianity requires Christians to embrace the “Palestinian” narrative.

Churches within the Christian faiths including Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, United Church of Christ, Episcopal, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and others have allied with Muslims to vilify Israel.  They conveniently ignore Israel’s legitimate security concerns following scores of suicide bombings and attacks on Israeli civilians, as well as the constant barrage of thousands of rockets.  Instead, they focus on Israel’s supposed wrongs, raising false claims of brutality by Israeli police and military and decrying “apartheid walls,” “war crimes,” and “oppression of Palestinians.”  As part of this subterfuge, Israel is held to an impossible standard and the brutal acts of its enemies are ignored or excused. 

These mainline Protestant churches engage in boycotts, divestment and economic sanctions against the Jewish state.  More dangerously they incorporate a codified anti-Zionist liturgy equating so-called Arab-Palestinian suffering to the crucifixion of Christ, evoking the imagery of Israel as a nation of Christ killers.  Of note is that few of these groups have conducted similar extensive campaigns against Turkey’s annexation of northern Cyprus, its oppression and violation of the rights of its native Kurdish population, China’s occupation of Tibet, the Muslim takeover of the Indian state of Kashmir and many other conflicts of truly oppressed and occupied populations.

For some Christians, fear of Muslims – despite centuries of Muslim conquest of Christian land that led to massacres and extensive periods of Christian subjugation – is superseded by deep-rooted anti-Semitism stemming from such beliefs as “Jews control the world,” “Jews killed Christ,” and “Jews are damned for not accepting Jesus as a messiah.” Replacement theology, in which the Church replaces Israel, also feeds anti-Semitism.

These Christians remain silent about Islamic terrorism against Christians and Jews and the current cleansing of Christians from the Middle East, despite wholesale Palestinian-Muslim persecution of Christians in Gaza and the West Bank, where Hamas has bombed churches, used Christian homes for sniper attacks on Israel, and forced Christians to abide by the tenets of shariah.  Given the Koranic-sanctioned Muslim persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world, it is hard to fathom that many Christians willingly seek alliances with Muslims, condemn Jews and Israel, and ignore the reality that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. 

In his recent book, Crucified Again:  Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, author Raymond Ibrahim cites the long history and theological underpinnings for Muslim persecution of Christians and how they are unwelcome in Islamic states.  In actuality, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where freedom of religion exists and where Christian populations have increased.

As non-Muslims continue to be persecuted and murdered in the name of Islam, which literally means “submission to Allah,” and Muslims proceed with their encroachment on Western democracies with creeping Islamization and shariah, these feeble attempts by Jews and Christians for interfaith solidarity with a prevailing threat are foolhardy.  It is high time that Jews and Christians became aware of the reality of the situation they jointly confront, put aside differences –

Including long-held anger over past discrimination and atrocities – and stand together against a medieval doctrine that threatens adherents of both faiths.  Rather than apocryphal alliances with false friends who bear ulterior motives, Jews and Christians must unify and fight the onslaught and destruction of the Judeo-Christian culture, values and traditions, as well as fight to preserve their freedom.

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