An American Jewish Committee (AJC) delegation has visited the nation’s capital for a series of meetings to deepen engagement with American Muslim communities, institutions and leaders.
The two-day visit included substantive encounters and candid dialogue with leadership from Masjid Muhammad, the Nation’s Mosque; the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center; the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU); and several others. Topics discussed included the joint battle fighting bigotry and hate crimes against Muslims and Jews, identifying and combatting misperceptions of the other within the respective communities, and navigating intercommunal conversations arising from different understandings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Stanley Bergman, AJC Honorary President and Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC) National Co-Chair, and David Inlander, AJC Interreligious Affairs Commission Chair, led the delegation. AJC leaders plan to visit American Muslim institutions across the country to inform AJC’s national leadership on the best ways to build bridges and partner with American Muslims. At the same time, the visits are meant to open channels of communication to discuss the most difficult aspects of Muslim-Jewish relations in a substantive, candid, and constructive way.
“Jews and Muslims share traditions, values, and culture, and in the United States we both participate in a thriving democracy as religious minorities,” said Ari Gordon, AJC’s U.S. Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations. “We must learn to work through the tensions that threaten to divide us, so that we can yield the fruit of working on a common agenda. This requires decisive action, but we must also listen, learn and understand what moves and disturbs our Muslim partners, even as we ask that they do the same about Jews.”
Muslim-Jewish relations is a top priority for AJC, a longstanding pioneer in interreligious relations. In recent years, AJC has expanded its commitment to Muslim-Jewish relations by launching the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council in partnership with ISNA and increasing outreach on the regional level. MJAC is a national civil society coalition with eight regional affiliates across the country that advocates on issues of common concern to both Muslims and Jews in the U.S.
The massacres at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year and at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand in March have underscored the ways in which Muslims and Jews have increasingly become targets of prejudice and violence.
Imam Mohamed Magid, Executive Imam of the ADAMS Center, said, “Muslims and Jews need to stand up for each other when either group is attacked. We must also commit to fighting anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim bigotry as they appear within our own communities.”
“If thoughts and prayers are not enough, then we must lay a foundation of partnership that our children and grandchildren can build upon,” said AJC’s Gordon. “This is our privilege and responsibility as Americans.”