The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, has announced a joint educational program with a major U.S. Jewish organization as well as promising to combat holocaust denial in the Muslim world. The program was announced at the recent biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). A recent news report described the goal of the educational programs as “bridging a divide formed from centuries of animosity over land, politics and religion.” According to this report, the curriculum will be developed jointly and there will be 10 test sites including Los Angeles. URJ leader Rabbi Eric Yoffe said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be included or else the effort would be “pointless.” In his address, Rabbi Yoffe also explains his reasons for choosing ISNA as a partner:
We chose ISNA as our partner because it is the closest equivalent to the Union within the American Muslim community. It has issued a strong and unequivocal condemnation of terror, including a specific condemnation of Hizbollah and Hamas terror against Jews and Israelis. It has also recognized Israel as a Jewish state and supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These statements provide the framework of common values that we believe are necessary for a fruitful dialogue to occur.
In modern times, other forms of communication: newspapers, cartoons and films have continued to produce hateful images of Muslims, as they did with Jews before – sometimes the caricatures are almost identical. Medieval and modern European images of Jews as deceptive, conspiring to overthrow Christian rule, odd in their manner and dress, dehumanized Jews, thereby softening the ground to allow the atrocities of the Holocaust. Six million Jews in the heart of Europe , in the 20th century, brutalized and killed in the most despicable manner – how could that happen except by a successful campaign of propaganda, as well as a ruthless but efficiently rational system of identifying, classifying, collecting, moving and then exterminating Jewish men, women and children. This is one of the greatest tragedies of modern history and ISNA will witness to this truth, anytime and to anyone in the Muslim world who denies it.
However, Mattson later made a comparison between the Jewish Holocaust and Palestinian refugees when she stated:
I have seen the tears of elderly Palestinian men as they spoke about being forced to leave the homes of their fathers and their fathers’ fathers during the founding of the state of Israel. I have been moved by those tears as I was moved by the site of numbers tattooed on the forearms of elderly men who survived the Holocaust.
As an earlier post reported, in September Rabbi Yoffe made the keynote address to the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) marking the first time a major Jewish leader has addressed ISNA in over forty years. Despite the Rabbi’s characterization of ISNA as a moderate organization, documents released as part of the Holy Land Foundation Terrorism Financing trial clearly show that ISNA was created as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. ISNA has a long history of supporting and association with Islamic fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism although recently the organization has issued condemnations of terrorism which for the first time identify Hamas and Hezbollah by name. There is no indication that the organization has ever addressed or acknowledged this history and knowledgeable sources describe Mattson as a “figurehead” within the organization.