U.S. Jewish media is reporting further details on efforts by an interfaith alliance of U.S Muslims and Jews to promote a similar partnership in Latin America. According to the report by The Forward, the group has met with various Obama Administration officials:
By Nathan Guttman Published March 30, 2012. While international attention is focused on relations between Jews and Muslims in Europe, following the Toulouse shooting, attempts are under way to strengthen ties between the two religious communities in another region: Latin America. A group of Muslim and Jewish leaders from Latin American and Caribbean nations came to Washington on March 26 as a first step in an effort to forge partnerships between the communities. The program is an initiative of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which has been organizing Muslim–Jewish dialogue events in the United States and in Europe in which synagogues twin with mosques, and leaders of the two faith communities work together on issues relating to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Middle East peace. “It is a natural extension of our program,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, the group’s president. The delegation to Washington included Jewish and Muslim leaders from Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Barbados and St. Croix. Its members met with representatives of the White House office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and with the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal. They also met with Farah Pandith, the special representative to Muslim communities. Co-hosting the group, alongside the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, was the Islamic Society of North America, a national Muslim organization that has been leading the way in interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims. In discussions during the three-day visit, Rabbi Michel Schlesinger of Sao Paulo, Brazil, noted that Muslim – Jewish dialogue is more challenging in Latin America than in Europe or the United States because a large majority of Muslims in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries are from Arab origin and many are first generation to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. This background adds more tension to the relationship between the two religious communities.
Read the rest here.
A post from April 2011 discussed the announcement by ISNA of the expansion of its mosque/synagogue “twinning program” to Latin America. Past posts have discussed the ISNA twinning program in the US and that reports two rabbis in western New York pulled out of the effort, charging that ISNA is involved in Islamic fundamentalism.
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.
A post from October 2011 reported on a controversial conference associated with ISNA that was accused by a critics of being sponsored by organizers who made of anti-Semitic and anti-gay remarks.