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IS THE OVERT “ISLAMIST EXISTENTIAL THREAT” A COVER FOR COVERT ANTISEMITISM?

For over a millennium Muslims and Jews lived in harmony that oversaw the burgeoning of their respective civilizations. Since the time of their historic accord, the scriptures of Islam and Judaism have not changed, but life for Muslims and Jews has. From the pinnacle of their civilization Muslims have plummeted into a nadir and see themselves as the victims of systematic demonization for the actions of deviant cults. Once the pariah of society, Jews have now become a powerful and influential global community. Out of the political struggle between Israelis and the Palestinians, the harmony of yesteryear has been replaced by the exchange of propagandist Muslim anti-Semitism and Jewish anti-Islamism. However, following the election of Mr. Trump to the Presidency, the love-hate relationship between Muslims and Jews, both threatened by his overt anti-Islamic remarks, or his covert support of anti-Semitic White Supremacists, has now reached center stage. The day after President-elect Donald Trump appointed a man accused of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as his chief strategist, two of the nation’s largest Jewish and Muslim advocacy groups formed an unprecedented partnership to fight bigotry. The American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America Monday launched the new national group: The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. At about the same time Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, pledged to register as a Muslim on the national database that President-elect Donald Trump vowed to create during his campaign. “I pledge to you that because I am committed to the fight against anti-Semitism that if one day Muslim Americans are forced to register their identities, that is the day that this proud Jew will register as Muslim. Making powerful enemies, is the price one must pay, at times, for speaking truth to power.” Notwithstanding certain predictable outcries by naysayers on both sides, there has been a flurry of activities in which Jews and Muslims have shown a unique willingness to work together: Jews are coming to the defense of mosques in America; a joint statement that decried the nomination of Stephen Bannon as the White House Chief strategist was issued by Salam Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council and Stosh Cotler, CEO, Bend the Arc Jewish Action. The Jewish Voice for Peace held a Chanukah Solidarity March Against Islamophobia #KindleJustice , in Boston. With the banning order against the entry of Muslims to the US there was an unprecedented outcry by a spontaneous coalition of peoples of conscience of all races, colors, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientation and social status against such an unconstitutional and bigoted decree. What has consistently made the news has been the President’s proposed ‘registry of Muslims’ who are portrayed ad nauseam as an ‘existential threat’ to the security of the US if not the world. This view is reinforced by the malevolent remarks of his surrogates who predictably inspire his supremacist followers to acts of intimidation and violence against innocent Muslim citizens. What often does not make the headlines are the systematic acts of anti-Semitism throughout the country, and pointedly the President’s deliberate refusal to name the Jews as the prime targets on Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was only the repeated demands by Jewish leaders that persuaded the President to eventually denounce anti-Semitism, with a hyperbole that only he could have come up with, “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” This contrasts with the statement issued on February 20 by The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, which offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who threatened to bomb at least 10 Jewish community centers around the nation on the President's Day holiday. CAIR said the threats targeted community centers in Birmingham, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Paul, Tampa, Albuquerque, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, and Buffalo. These were the latest in a series of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers nationwide in the last two months. "It is the duty of American Muslims to offer support to the Jewish community and any minority group targeted in the recent spike in hate crimes nationwide," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "He noted the "tremendous level of support" offered to American Muslims by the Jewish community whenever Muslims have been targeted by hate in recent months. Awad said CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in hate rhetoric and bias-motivated incidents targeting American Muslims, Jews and other minorities since the election of President Trump. With less hyperbole and more humility he could have echoed what President Washington had to say in 1790 to a ‘fledgling immigrant Jewish community’, ‘To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance’. Words that are true today as they were then. True for Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics and all our brothers and sisters in humanity. Abdul Cader Asmal 2/21/17

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