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Can Interfaith Ties Between Muslims and Jews Help Defeat Hate Crimes?

The fact that there was an almost identical rise (60%+) in hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims is evidence that the source of these hate crimes springs from within a small minority of the majority population, who are scapegoating both Jews and Muslims after years of high unemployment and economic distress.

The fact that there was an almost identical rise (60%+) in hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims is evidence that the source of these hate crimes springs from within a small minority of the majority population, who are scapegoating both Jews and Muslims after years of high unemployment and economic distress.

Rampant in today’s divided political and religious atmosphere we find ‘scapegoating,’ which essentially is a form of gossip, slander, and hatred blaming and holding responsible a disliked group of people for the wrongs from which your group suffers negative and even violent consequences.

Scapegoating increasingly ends up in active hate, and leads to doing, or trying to do, violent harm to the scapegoated group, usually indiscriminately, simply because randomly targetable individuals belong to [or are perceived to belong to] the hated group.

Intolerance and then hate may develop into a threat to life and limb; more and more in the news, overt actions are being taken, either by self-selected loaners or by organized groups, with the intent to remove the scapegoated persons from society, or to kill if nothing else works.

This anxiety had produced three major scapegoat categories: immigrants, Jews, and the religion of Islam —as can be seen in a major rise in Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the United States and Great Britain.

A three-year-old poll reports [2/18/19] that 35 percent of British people think Islam is a threat to the British way of life in the wake of the 2017 terrorist attacks, and that anti-Semitism on the political left is an increasing issue in the United Kingdom.

The anti-fascist group, Hope Not Hate, has produced their annual “The State of Hate” report, based on a survey of 10,383 Brits conducted in July 2018; it found that anti-Muslim prejudice has hardened in the past eight years and, among far-right groups, supplanted fears of increasing immigration.

The report also pinpointed left-wing anti-Semitism, particularly in the Labour Party, as a critical problem (which has been reduced lately).

The authors of “The State of Hate” cited conspiracy theories and tropes about undue levels of Jewish power, as well as dismissing allegations of liberal anti-Semitism as a right-wing or Zionist plot.

Thirteen percent of the British people surveyed agreed that Jewish people have an unhealthy control over the world’s banking system. Almost half of the people surveyed said this was a false statement, and about 41 percent said they did not know.

Attacks on Britain’s 280,000 Jews and 2.5+ million Muslims, including assault and harassment, soared by more than 60% over the past year, London police statistics show. The Metropolitan Police dealt with 483 anti-Jewish incidents in the 12 months between November 2014 and November 2015, a 62% increase over the same period last year. The London police also recorded a similar 64% rise in anti-Muslim incidents, for a total of 818 such attacks.

5 Verses from the Holy Quran on Interfaith Peace and Dialogue

The fact that there was an almost identical rise (60%+) in hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims is evidence that the source of these hate crimes springs from within a small minority of the majority population, who are scapegoating both Jews and Muslims after years of high unemployment and economic distress.

Back in the USA things are even more twisted. Although 55% of the Republicans polled on June 6 and 7, 2022 said they believed the January 6, 2021 riot was led by violent left-wing protesters, nearly all of the 840 people arrested following the attack have been Trump supporters, according to U.S. prosecutors, and FBI Director Christopher Wray has said there was no evidence leftist extremists disguised themselves as Trump supporters during the attack.

All this teaches us that everyone should be constantly reminded that religious/political extremism is ultimately self-destructive to both its self and its supporters. In the words of the poet W. B. Yeats: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

The time has come for all the best of religious convictions  — especially from within the Muslim and Jewish minorities —  to denounce and denigrate the activities and beliefs of those who are filled with the worst of religious convictions before they desecrate and diminish all believers in the one God of Abraham.

Our religious and political leaders could help improve interfaith relations by constantly repeating the important lesson taught by the German Protestant Christian theologian Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power; and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, one group after another:

“First they arrested Socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Socialist.
Then they arrested Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they arrested Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

And our religious and political leaders could also help improve interfaith relations by constantly repeating the important lesson taught by an eleventh-century Spanish Muslim theologian: “Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see – Egoism, Arrogance, Conceit, Selfishness, Greed, Lust, Intolerance, Anger, Lying, Cheating, Gossiping and Slandering [i.e., scapegoating]. If you can master and destroy them, then will you be ready to fight the enemy you can see.” – Imam Al-Ghazali

What Can I Do?

In general, speak out as an individual against intolerance and hate, wherever you find it. Join with others who are organized to diffuse violence and to reason with others of different persuasions to promote conflict resolution and mutual understanding.

Fund institutions that professionally promote mutual tolerance, peace, and justice for all. Contribute to public-supported media that don’t engage in one-sided or sensationalist reporting, who do real investigative reporting and show both sides of a question, in historical and sociological depth, who bring in imams and rabbis for a publically televised discussion with each other.

And what about the role of interfaith programs? Muslims and Jews are the two largest, most influential religious minorities in the West. Both are experiencing renewed scapegoating and hate crimes. It would make sense for Muslims and Jews to share their successful strategies and to be seen together in mutual support.

There are already many interfaith activities and groups established in larger population centers, including Muslim-Jewish groups. These can be expanded in active membership and their efforts maximized.

Imams and rabbis should encourage their members to take part in, and to contribute in planning such events to the end of building close personal relationships. Most urban areas have a local Federation of Jewish organizations that can guide interested Muslims to Rabbis who will work with Muslim groups or with individuals who want to increase Muslim-Jewish understanding and brotherhood. It is up to us to build the bridges that may strengthen all of our communities against the rising wave of hate.

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