November 3, 2018


Muslims and Jews stand together in grieving Pittsburgh (Ali Harb, 3 November 2018, ME Eye)

Among the kippahs at a memorial service for the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre victims on Friday, there were a few hijabs.

Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, addressed mourners and worshippers at the Rodef Shalom Congregation, lauding the city's unity and the Jewish community's resilience.

"This wasn't about a hateful act; this was about a hopeful community building solidarity in the shadow of a crisis," Mohamed said.

An online crowdfunding campaign launched by Muslim activists across the country and coordinated locally by Mohamed has raised more than $230,000 for victims of the attack. [...]

As Mohamed left the synagogue on Friday, several members of the Jewish community walked up to him to express their gratitude.

"The Jewish community in America and the immigrant Muslim community in America have very similar stories. The Jewish community just has been here earlier," Mohamed told MEE.

He explained that early Jewish immigrants were vilified and isolated, much like Muslims today.

Mohamed added that beyond their experiences as minority groups, Muslim and Jewish Americans share Abrahamic faiths that allow them to relate to one another.

Asked if tensions had risen between the two communities locally because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mohamed said the strife in the Middle East is a political - not religious - issue.

"When you don't have everything painted in the lens of Israel-Palestine, you can actually talk about faith... We're here; we can actually talk about theology and the [religious] differences - what they believe and what we believe and have intellectual dialogue and civil discourse around things," Mohamed said.

He added that personal relationships make discussions about the Middle East less divisive and more productive.

"We can talk about solutions. We can talk about how to move forward because we know each other," Mohamed said. "We won't hate each other for not agreeing."

Countering the violent extremists among us (Hady Amr, October 30, 2018, Brookings)

[W]ithin a week of the attack, President Bush addressed the nation from a leading Washington mosque to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry, saying, "The face of terror is not the true face of Islam," and, "Islam is peace."

Sure, that didn't solve things, but America's conservative president pressed forward with the vision of an inclusive America at home, while he rightly went to war against al-Qaida overseas.

Today, things are more complex. Is the "us" under attack comprised of Americans? From mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats, to the slaughter of American Jews at prayer, to a man who murdered African-Americans at a grocery store after failing to break into an African-American church, it certainly seems that a foundational ideal of America is indeed under attack.

That foundational ideal is: "E pluribus unum" ("Out of many, one"). It's printed on the coins in our pockets and on the Great Seal of the United States. 

Even more complicated and painful is to attempt to answer the question of who the "they" is. That's what brings me to shudder when I grapple with how to discuss this with my children: The "they" is also the "us." Or at least it's within us.

These murderers are effectively terrorists, and these terrorists are Americans. They are our neighbors. They are not some easily vilified foreign entity or individual. The killers are within us. They are of us. We can no longer avoid forcefully organizing ourselves to address this.

Posted by at November 3, 2018 3:57 AM