This coming July, ISNA leaders will join representatives from the World Jewish Congress and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) in Latin America to take the first steps in expanding the Annual Weekend of Twinning to Latin America. This year’s weekend of twinning, between mosques and synagogues nation-wide, will take place on Nov 18-20 and will focus specifically on building interfaith tolerance and relationships between Muslim and Jewish students and young leaders to combat bigotry world-wide. In preparation for this trip, and other interfaith and twinning initiatives throughout the year, FFEU held the first ever virtual global twinning encounter last weekend, where Muslim and Jewish leaders from around the world called in to discuss upcoming twinning activities and get feedback from previous twinning participants on ways to augment the experience in the future. ISNA National Director Dr. Sayyid Syeed joined the call, along with FFEU President and Co-Founder Rabbi Marc Schneier, FFEU Muslim-Jewish Relations Program Officer Walter Ruby, Muslim Jewish Conference General Secretary Ilja Sichrovsky, and leaders from across the globe. “We began this effort on a modest level about 4 years ago, and it expanded far beyond our expectations, transforming the twinning community into a true worldwide movement of Muslims and Jews committed to promoting communication, reconciliation, and cooperation. In spite of this, in North America and Europe, we have seen a sharp rise in the level of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism, and we need to take this to the next level to be an effective antidote to this trend,” stated Ruby. In addition to the interfaith “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” campaign launched by ISNA and other faith leaders this year, ISNA is also proud to sponsor and participate in the twinning events, and encourages all communities to participate in both initiatives.
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. Former ISNA officials such as Muzammil Siddiqi, Sayyid Syeed, and Mohamed Magid have been particularly active in promoting Holocaust awareness, including participating in a trip last August to concentration camp sites in Europe.