Jewish media is reporting that two rabbis in western New York have withdrawn from a Muslim-Jewish outreach project co-sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). According to a report in the Jewish Telegraph:
Two rabbis in western New York have pulled out of a Muslim-Jewish outreach effort, charging that the national sponsor is involved in Islamic fundamentalism. The “twinning” project, which has been held each November since 2008, is a project of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in cooperation with the Islamic Society of North America, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing case. Rabbi Irwin Tanenbaum of Temple Beth Am and Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein of Temple Sinai, both of Amherst, declined to participate in Buffalo-area twinning events this month despite participating last year, citing concerns about the Islamic Society’s links to Islamic fundamentalist groups, the Buffalo News reported Nov. 11. Rabbi Drorah Setel of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls, N.Y., is the only area rabbi to go forward with the program, according to the newspaper. “The conflict in the Middle East ends up affecting passions here,” Lazarus-Klein told the Buffalo News. “The issues are very close to people’s hearts, and it’s difficult to separate the world politics from local politics, and that’s unfortunate.” A national group based in Boston last year warned Buffalo-area Jews that radical Muslims posing as moderates had infiltrated the area. “What we found was that the entities behind the Buffalo interfaith effort are anything but moderate,” Ilya Feoktistov, research director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, wrote in an online publication. One event held last week in western New York had to be moved from a small synagogue to a private home after objections by members of the congregation, the Buffalo News reported. Other twinning events are being held around the United States through the end of the year, involving some 100 synagogues and 100 mosques.
Previous posts have discussed the twining project which is co-sponsored by ISNA but also has involved other elements of the US Muslim Brotherhood.The project recently held what was described as the world’s largest gathering of Muslims and Jews and organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and ISNA.
As documented in a Hudson Institute report, ISNA grew directly out of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to its claim that ISNA has a “long record of fighting hate, extremism, and bigotry, including anti-Semitism”, the organization actually has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism and during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator as a result of what the government called “ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” Although it is true that recently ISNA 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 its history of support for terrorism. Also, as the Hudson Institute report observes, almost all of the ISNA founders remain active in the organization and ISNA maintains close relations with all other components of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. A previous post discussed the ties between the ISNA Secretary-General, a former leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter, and an Illinois school with close links to the Mosque Foundation, itself tied to fundraising for Hamas. Despite it’s long history of association with fundamentalism, terrorism, and anti-Semitism, ISNA has been successful of late in building alliances with Jewish leaders and organizations.