On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a man shot into the Tree of Life Synagogue killing 11 people and wounding many others. Eliminating any doubt about the motive of the attack, the man was heard shouting calls for genocide against Jews in the course of the attack.
Furthermore, his social media accounts displayed a clear anti-jewish animus for their alleged conspiring to bring refugees into the United States at the expense of white people. In the aftermath of this tragedy, there was an overwhelming outpouring of support for the victims including over $250,000 raised by the Muslim community.
Without a doubt, these responses send a positive message regarding the generosity and compassion of our community to those who have been wronged. Though we cannot change the tragic nature of the events in Pittsburgh, the aftermath of these events represents a genuine opportunity to build inter-communal solidarity and action that we need so much more of.
When it comes to Muslim-Jewish relations, there is naturally hesitation due to concerns revolving around injustices towards the Palestinians and the role American Jews play in maintaining American support of Israel despite such oppression. Of course, there is no excuse for supporting injustice and oppression in any part of the world, including in Palestine.
At the same time, it is important to understand not to attribute the evils committed by the state of Israel to the Jewish community at large. Furthermore, there is plenty of room for engagement and collaboration on matters wholly unrelated to Palestine which need not be abandoned because of it.
Indeed, we are expected to cooperate with others in good causes, so there should not be any hesitation in collaborating with Jews in community service projects such as feeding homeless people.
Additionally, such collaboration does not imply that we support Israel any more than it implies that they support Palestine. Unfortunately, such petty guilt-by-association reasoning has taken root in some quarters of the Muslim community.
When Rashida Tlaib won her congressional primary on August 7th, Muslims were, by enlarge, pleased by this, yet there were some who had misgivings. Without a doubt, the selection of Palestinian-American Muslims woman to be the nominee for U.S. Congress inspired many Muslims to think more optimistically about the future, but almost immediately after her election, she was the victim of baseless accusations questioning her loyalty to the Palestinian cause.
The claim was that because she had been supported by the pro-Israel organization Jstreet, she supported military aid to Israel because J Street supports such military aid. Of course, the feebleness of such claims are so apparent as not to even deserve comment; nevertheless, some people naively bought into it.
Rather than allowing Tlaib to demonstrate her convictions in Congress, they chose to cast aspersions on her reputation based on nothing more than the positions of people who happen to support her. If we expect to make a genuine impact, we cannot accommodate such an erroneous mentality.
When it comes to dealing with anti-Semitism, Muslims can do this most effectively by demonstrating that it is possible to stand up for the rights of Jews whilst not compromising their own principles and beliefs.
In addition to supporting victims of hate crimes such as the members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, we should be proactive in collaborating with others on issues of shared concern even with people who we do not agree with. Of course, this does not entail abandoning the plight of the Palestinians or other oppressed groups of people.
Rather, we must understand the basic point that agreeing with others on a particular cause or issue does not entail support for all that they believe. Indeed, if we acted on such a mentality, we would do nothing with anyone besides ourselves. When we can do this, we will have taken a crucial step towards reducing hatred in racism in all of its forms, including anti-semitism.