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Thread: How To Deal With American Muslims

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    How To Deal With American Muslims

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/top/editcolcontent.php

    How To Deal With American Muslims

    Gary Rosenblatt - Editor and Publisher


    Whether, and how, U.S. Jews should deal with Muslim groups in this country is a vital issue that needs to be explored and discussed, particularly in the wake of 9-11. And the variety of possible responses — ignore them, confront them, dialogue with them — tells us as much about our own politics, beliefs and level of confidence as it does about the perceived potential threat of a growing Muslim presence in American life.

    By nature, American Jews are liberal in their outlook, and would naturally be sympathetic to a fellow minority group being blamed for the actions of a small group of terrorists from other countries. Who better appreciates the dangers of collective guilt than Jews, always a minority subject to scapegoating? How unfair, then, that American Muslims, about a quarter of whom are of Arab origins, could face prejudice for the 9-11 attacks perpetrated by 19 foreigners.

    On the other hand, many Muslims in this country, like millions around the world, are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, blame Israel for the conflict in the Mideast, and have targeted Zionism (and in some cases Jews) as the core of world problems.

    So amid concerns that the Muslim community is growing in numbers and political clout in America at a time when the Jewish population is in decline, we seem torn between reaching out to, or taking on Muslims, unsure if we do better by cooperating wherever possible or drawing our line in the sand and refusing to engage with those who don’t meet certain minimum standards of tolerance.

    Most recently, American Jewish organizations have faced a dilemma about whether or not to join a coalition of groups committed to alleviating the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan who face persecution and starvation. What is preventing participation for some Jewish groups is the presence of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a pro-Muslim group widely considered hostile to Israel. So while some Jewish groups advocate focusing on the greater good, and joining, others are staying out so as not to lower their standards of inclusion or give legitimacy to CAIR.

    Offering some thoughtful and timely guidelines on how the Jewish community should regard the growing presence, and influence, of American Muslims, a 33-year-old Jewish scholar of Jewish and Islamic studies at Harvard University has published two studies on the Muslim community in this country and how best to improve relations with them. The reports are due to be published this week by Israel’s Mosaica Research Center for Religion, Society and State, a group closely affiliated with former Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior.

    In the studies, Raquel Ukeles encourages Jewish dialogue with moderate Muslims as a means of fostering mutual education and understanding. She also argues that the Jewish community “needs to reconsider the criteria it uses to identify credible partners, including redefining ‘moderate,’ ” or there will be no one left to talk to.

    Ukeles says that while it is important to research and expose militant Muslim groups, Jewish defense organizations should devote more resources and energy to “reaching out to non-militant Muslims,” who are the majority in this country. That is not easy because moderates can be hard to find. Some are reluctant to be publicly identified, but “a key part of the problem,” according to Ukeles is that Jewish groups not only exclude those who endorse violence but those who are considered guilty by association.

    She suggests that by making off limits any encounters with individuals or groups who affiliate or have contact with the more militant elements, the Jewish community has in effect eliminated itself from dialogue. She cites, for example, the case of Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl of the UCLA Law School, who has spoken out forcefully against violence in the name of Islam, and Saudi-sponsored extremist programs in the U.S. (See “Jews In Search of Moderate Muslims,” Between The Lines, Jan. 15, 2003.)

    Although El Fadl calls for a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and favors a democratic approach to Islam, the fact that he has spoken out against Israeli policies in the territories and used to write for The Minaret, a publication connected to a more extreme Muslim group, makes him suspect to some Jewish groups.

    Ukeles thinks it is a mistake to disqualify such relatively progressive academics as people with whom to dialogue. She calls for developing “a more nuanced way to identify Muslim partners,” distinguishing between those with “untenable” positions, like asserting that Israel has no right to exist, and those who espouse views the Jewish community disagrees with but who seek a negotiated, peaceful resolution.

    The definition of “moderate,” Ukeles says, should be expanded to include Muslim attitudes “toward social, political and religious issues that directly bear on the domestic agenda.” In addition to seeking out academics, she suggests establishing contacts with younger, American-born Muslims since both groups are involved in civic life here and appreciate the need for their people to resist social and political isolation.

    None of this will be simple or swiftly achieved. Attitudes in the Jewish community reflect both interfaith officials who favor more dialogue with Muslim groups and terrorism experts seeking to marginalize such groups, fearful of being used by enemies of Israel. When our own community is divided over whether we should be dealing with or countering Muslim organizations, we need to think about our strategic goals, and how to respond when Muslim groups or individuals we don’t trust moderate their public views on Israel or violence. Maybe some of our groups should remain watchdogs while others engage in discussion with Muslim groups. Case-by-case decisions must be made, shorter and longer-term goals set, and local and national policies considered.

    It’s all well and good for Jewish groups to praise Sheik Hisham Kabbani, the Sufi leader and chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America who supports the State of Israel, but it is unrealistic and counterproductive to insist that other Muslim leaders take such positions before talking with them. We fool ourselves if we think we can work with (at least on domestic issues) and educate only American Muslims who meet our standards of Mideast correctness.

    “Most Muslims are in the gray area,” Ukeles tells me. “They don’t love us and they don’t want to kill us. But they do have some issues.”

    Her advice is worth heeding, and more research needs to be done on successful models of Jewish-Muslim dialogue, particularly on the local level, and the pitfalls of such encounters.

    What’s clear is that we have to keep a door open, constantly considering the means and the ends in this high-stake game of dialogue and diplomacy — if not to win allies than at least to establish working relationships with the next generation of American Muslim leaders. To ignore them, and the difficult issues they raise, would only deepen the levels of mistrust and hatred that exist today.

    E-mail: Gary@jewishweek.org

    Gary Rosenblatt can be reached by e-mail at Gary@jewishweek.org.

  2. #2
    andak01
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    Excellent article, and it puts its finger on many of the issues that we have faced right here on this forum.

  3. #3
    Justcurious
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    "How To Deal With American Muslims"

    Is it typical to deal with certain groups of people differently? How are other religions/groups faring, what is the top ten list at the moment?

  4. #4
    KettleWhistle
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    Politically Correct Bull Schite

    Quote Originally Posted by Mediocrates
    In the studies, Raquel Ukeles encourages Jewish dialogue
    This article is based on this one study, yet doens't provide any details or any conclusions regarding the study. So she encourages dialogue with "Muslims." Is that because her study concluded that it was more productive? Did she compare responses of different Muslim populations and denominations to different approaches? Surely doesn't seem that way. Sounds more like her study has no scientific merit whatsoever, which in turn makes her advise worthless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mediocrates
    In the studies, Raquel Ukeles encourages Jewish dialogue with moderate Muslims as a means of fostering mutual education and understanding. She also argues that the Jewish community “needs to reconsider the criteria it uses to identify credible partners, including redefining ‘moderate,’ ” or there will be no one left to talk to.
    There is no need to have dialog with people who want to be our enemies. We have no reason to talk to them, and no reasons to participate in any mutual activities.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    I'm not that threatened by it or them, sitting here.

  6. #6
    andak01
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    I am reminded of my warm (as in firebrand) relationship with Ibrodsky. If you had queried us side by side on our non political values, I imagine we would have overlapped on a lot of issues, family values, pride in being American, desire for economic prosperity, etc. But, because my politics were different from his, I was "fifth column", a terrorist sympathizer.

    I had another interchange with someone who seemed intelligent, well read. He was talking reasonably and then chilled me to the bone by stating that he wouldn't care if all 1.2 billion Muslims were massacred tomorrow. We really need to look into how Muslims and others can hold such extreme viewpoints without perceiving a contradiction with their own more positive pursuits.

  7. #7
    Olivier
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJL
    There is no need to have dialog with people who want to be our enemies.
    yeah clever boy, hate them, despise them ... make sure they attack you, after that retaliate, wipe them off YOUR land .... and they when they all all refugees in a tiny tiny place lock them in, destroy their jobs, kill their hope.

    When they end up mad and blowing themselves up trying to fight you off you'll be done with your hateful task.


    (Just kiddin' I know there must be something good in you. Or does it?)

  8. #8
    Mira~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olivier
    yeah clever boy, hate them, despise them ... make sure they attack you, after that retaliate, wipe them off YOUR land .... and they when they all all refugees in a tiny tiny place lock them in, destroy their jobs, kill their hope.

    When they end up mad and blowing themselves up trying to fight you off you'll be done with your hateful task.


    (Just kiddin' I know there must be something good in you. Or does it?)
    If you are trying to make some baited allusion to the Israelis and Palestinians, then it's an ignorant, but not surprising one.

  9. #9
    KettleWhistle
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    Quote Originally Posted by andak01
    I am reminded of my warm (as in firebrand) relationship with Ibrodsky. If you had queried us side by side on our non political values, I imagine we would have overlapped on a lot of issues, family values, pride in being American, desire for economic prosperity, etc. But, because my politics were different from his, I was "fifth column", a terrorist sympathizer.

    I had another interchange with someone who seemed intelligent, well read. He was talking reasonably and then chilled me to the bone by stating that he wouldn't care if all 1.2 billion Muslims were massacred tomorrow. We really need to look into how Muslims and others can hold such extreme viewpoints without perceiving a contradiction with their own more positive pursuits.
    Quote Originally Posted by Olivier
    yeah clever boy, hate them, despise them ... make sure they attack you, after that retaliate, wipe them off YOUR land ....
    I haven't said anything hateful or extreme. The article specifically talked about one Muslim scholar who is supposedly "moderate," and because of that needs to be dialogued with, despite his anti-Israel stance. Well, I have news for you: neither Israel nor other Jews are anti-Muslim. Majority of Muslims on the other hand are anti-Israel, and very violently so, despite the fact that what is going on in Israel has nothing do to with religion.

    We are not against their religion. We have no political quarells of any sort with majority of Muslims peoples. Yet they want our homeland destroyed. The author of that politically correct piece of BS pretended to argue that we need to have a dialog with the people who call for destruction of Jewish homeland. My point was that we have no need to have any dialogue with these people. What is hateful or extreme about it?

  10. #10
    Eugeenie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mediocrates
    In the studies, Raquel Ukeles encourages Jewish dialogue with moderate Muslims as a means of fostering mutual education and understanding. She also argues that the Jewish community “needs to reconsider the criteria it uses to identify credible partners, including redefining ‘moderate,’ ” or there will be no one left to talk to.

    [/SIZE]

    These are among the most telling statements in this article, and represent the same sort of guilt laden shifting of responsibility inherent in the way people look for the root cause of terrorism by shifting their perspective to the target of the terrorism rather than the perpetrator and then then making demands only of the victim in any of their subsequent analysis. In this case, Ms. Ukeles is indulging in quite the typical apologist rationale that essentially boils down to "They are extreme and irrational, therefore it is *our* responsibility to change our viewpoint to accomidate them". The same logic applied to the KKK, for instance, would demand that people attempt to dialogue by readjusting their idea of "moderate" -- i/e ,to find members of the kkk whose rhetorec is marginally less offensive than others.

    I do believe dialogue is possible, but only by finding Muslims who are truly moderate. This notion offered forth that Muslims are inherently incapable of moderation should be quite insulting to Muslims since it is so patronizing. Rather than this lowering of ones expectations, why not expect a little better of people?

  11. #11
    Mira~
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    I agree with the article and what's more, I believe that those contacts have to be made in person. Muslims and Jews may never be able to fully reconcile our national goals and historical narratives, but getting to know each other as people with families, dreams, humor, and intelligence, will help to alleviate all the demonization. And that is at least something.

  12. #12
    Justcurious
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mira
    I believe that those contacts have to be made in person. Muslims and Jews may never be able to fully reconcile our national goals and historical narratives, but getting to know each other as people with families, dreams, humor, and intelligence, will help to alleviate all the demonization. And that is at least something.

    You are not the only one!

  13. #13
    KettleWhistle
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugeenie
    These are among the most telling statements in this article, and represent the same sort of guilt laden shifting of responsibility inherent in the way people look for the root cause of terrorism by shifting their perspective to the target of the terrorism rather than the perpetrator and then then making demands only of the victim in any of their subsequent analysis. In this case, Ms. Ukeles is indulging in quite the typical apologist rationale that essentially boils down to "They are extreme and irrational, therefore it is *our* responsibility to change our viewpoint to accomidate them". The same logic applied to the KKK, for instance, would demand that people attempt to dialogue by readjusting their idea of "moderate" -- i/e ,to find members of the kkk whose rhetorec is marginally less offensive than others.
    Excellent point! I was going to make same comparison myself.

    Additionally, why should it matter if they are "moderate" Muslims or not? Whether they believe in every orthodox doctrine offered by their religion or not should make no difference. There is no Jewish-Muslim conflict. There is no Israeli-Muslim conflict. There is no percecution of their religion in Israel. And we do not need a dialog for the Muslim community to "get it." All that is needed is for majority of Muslims to pull their head from under their tail and to take a look around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mira
    I agree with the article and what's more, I believe that those contacts have to be made in person. Muslims and Jews may never be able to fully reconcile our national goals and historical narratives, but getting to know each other as people with families, dreams, humor, and intelligence, will help to alleviate all the demonization. And that is at least something.
    That article was not talking about personal contacts. It was promoting the idiotic idea of "dialog between civilizations/cultures." While it sounds nice when you look at it through rose-colored glasses, in reality such dialogs do not result in anything productive, and never produce any long term, or even short term solutions.

    Additionally, there are neither national goals nor historical narratives that needs to be reconciled. The conflict in Israel is not a conflict between Jewish and Muslim national ambitions, since the conflict is not about Islam, and thus should not concern majority of Muslims in the first place.

  14. #14
    Mira~
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by AJL
    Excellent point! I was going to make same comparison myself.


    That article was not talking about personal contacts. It was promoting the idiotic idea of "dialog between civilizations/cultures." While it sounds nice when you look at it through rose-colored glasses, in reality such dialogs do not result in anything productive, and never produce any long term, or even short term solutions.
    I disagree. When has any civilization ever lived in a vacum? The Jewish people are an amalgamation of every culture we have ever come in contact with. Dialogue is good, the alternative is fear and blind hatred. Notice that I proposed very modest gains....it is harder to demonize someone when you have gotten to know them as a person.

    Quote Originally Posted by AJL
    Additionally, there are neither national goals nor historical narratives that needs to be reconciled. The conflict in Israel is not a conflict between Jewish and Muslim national ambitions, since the conflict is not about Islam, and thus should not concern majority of Muslims in the first place.
    How do you know what the conflict is about? You don't want to talk to anybody.

  15. #15
    KettleWhistle
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Mira
    I disagree. When has any civilization ever lived in a vacum? The Jewish people are an amalgamation of every culture we have ever come in contact with. Dialogue is good, the alternative is fear and blind hatred. Notice that I proposed very modest gains....it is harder to demonize someone when you have gotten to know them as a person.
    I didn't imply we should live in a vacuum. And I was not talking against developing personal relationships with Muslims. My point was that there is no benefit from "dialogue of civilizations" proposed by Gary Rosenblatt's article. The articles called for Jewish community seeking a dialogue with moderate American Muslims. I believe that such dialogue is not needed because it will not produce any benefits. Like Eugeenie stated, it would be akin to seeking a dialogue with "moderate" members of the KKK.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mira
    How do you know what the conflict is about? You don't want to talk to anybody.
    Well, I didn't say I didn't want to talk to anybody. My point was that Muslims are not a nations, and American Jewish community does not have any conflicts of national ambitions with American Muslims. Our conflict is not with Muslims or with their religion of Islam. As we all know, and by we I mean Muslims as well, Israel protects everyone's religious freedom. It is not us who need to uproach Muslims, but it is Muslims who need to stop being hypocrits and to recognize the fact that neither Israel nor Jewish community has any hostility towards them, and in fact Israel in probably the only country in the Middle East that has religious freedom and protects the rights of people to religious expression.

    Again, the article in question argues for a dialogue with "moderate" Muslims, as opposed to ignoring them or confronting them. I say that we do not need either of these strategies. Our response should not be directed to the American Muslim community, but to the general American public. Here is an example: a couple months ago some Muslim student group at UC Irvine build a mock-up of an Israeli security fence on campus. It was made of paper and had photographs of the supposed hadships that "Palestinians" endured because of it. The only proper response that this got, was that somebody burned it one weekend. In case you're wondering, the police never found who done it. But that's not the point. What is important is what was missing, and that is a Jewish response to it. Instead of burning it, there should've been a presentation by a Jewish group showing the most disgusting, bloody, and ruthless examples of Arab terrorism in Israel, and showing the statistics that prove the effectiveness of the fence. That way the general public would be able to make up their mind in regards to this issue, instead of being presented with a one-sided view of it.

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