Hug a Jew

as a follow-up to the footnote in my last post about the roots of anti-semitism in Arab cultures, I have to point out the Hug a Jew! column over at Muslim WakeUp! They also have a link to an important article by Tariq Ramadan, grandson of teh founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, who addresses the incompatibility of anti-Semitism with Islamic teaching:

�To my regret, anti-Semitic utterances have been heard not only from frustrated and confused young Muslims, but also from certain Muslim intellectuals and imams,� he says, �who in every crisis or political backsliding see the hand of the �Jewish lobby.� There is nothing in Islam that gives legitimization to Judeophobia, xenophobia and the rejection of any human being because of his religion or the group to which he belongs. Anti-Semitism has no justification in Islam, the message of which demands respect for the Jewish religion and spirit, which are considered a noble expression of the People of the Book.�

Even when he identifies urges that have their source in economic distress and social frustration, or the desire to protest against Israel�s oppressive policy, among people who express themselves in an anti-Semitic way and are involved in anti-Semitic acts, Ramadan refuses to demonstrate understanding or forgiveness toward them. He says: �The social and political forces in the Muslim communities must act to educate toward the delegitimization of elements of anti- Semitism. Leaders and imams have the responsibility to disseminate an unequivocal message about the profound connections between Islam and Judaism and Islam�s recognition of Moses and the Torah.�

�Despite what is happening today in Israel and Palestine, despite [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon�s policy, despite the feelings of anger and frustration - those responsible for all the Muslim political and social organizations must open a clear dialogue that distinguishes between criticism of Israel�s policy, and anti-Semitic and Judeophobic statements and actions. This is lacking today and this is a great responsibility.�

This is a critical aspect of akhlaq (character) for a muslim - adherence to the Truth and rejecting falsehood for short-term political gain. The abuse of religion to justify anti-Semitism is a great atrocity on both the material and spiritual levels.

Ramadan is careful to identify the shared responsibility of both Muslims and Jews with regard to invoking anti-semitism as a barrier to dialouge[1] :

Ramadan warned, in his interview with Ha�aretz that two dangerous phenomena exist side by side: one is criticism of and protest against the Israeli government�s policy toward the Palestinians that are accompanied by declarations that deny that the Holocaust took place and the other defines any criticism of Israel as anti-Jewish propaganda and as ignoring the memory of the Holocaust.

�Recently, in a public debate that was held in Brussels on the war in the Middle East,� related the Muslim philosopher, �a woman in the audience challenged: �Why do you always bring up the Holocaust?�

�I replied immediately, �It is possible to be against Israel�s policy in Palestine, but we must take into account the real memory of the Jews� suffering in the 20th century and evince special sensitivity to the Holocaust. This is an obligation of conscience and ethics. We must remember what happened so that it will never happen again.�

�From a different perspective, it is our obligation to tell every Jew or Zionist who supports Israel�s official policy that it is impossible to make systematic use of the Holocaust and the memory of the victims to give legitimization to Israel�s oppressive policy in Palestine. This is forbidden. The fact that there are people who use the memory of the Holocaust to justify Israel�s actions, which many define as state terror against the Palestinian people, does not justify others not taking into account the memory of the Holocaust. Both approaches must be condemned.�

Overall, it's a great article and well-worth reading. And I hug my fair share of Jews all the time :)

[1] A theme that I've been pounding hard myself ever since being unfairly accused of blood libel by people who should know better.

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