The October 27th attack on the Tree of Life synagogue summoned a powerful Muslim response to American anti-Semitism. However, more than raising funds for American Jews, Muslim Americans have the power to counter anti-Semitism rather than just respond to it after the fact.
To challenge anti-Semitism head on, American Muslims must:
1. Speak out against Jew-hating imams and the institutions that protect them.
American Muslims can work to have these imams removed. They can pressure the mosque boards into firing the imams and can also boycott mosques and organizations where hateful imams still enjoy power.
2. Stand in solidarity with Muslims who are abused or chased away for challenging hate and exploitation.
American Muslims can’t authentically stand in solidarity with Jews when they have turned their backs on their own. Muslims who are victims of vicious Islamist hegemony are railroaded, chased out of town, bullied or otherwise marginalized. Just this week, Texas Imam Nick Pelletier was placed on administrative leave after giving a powerful sermon against sexual abuse. Pelletier was directly speaking out against the Islamic Center of Irving’s prior imam, who sexually groomed and assaulted a young girl.
3. Denounce the behavior of Muslim leaders who amplify bigoted rhetoric against Jewish communities.
The despicable and dehumanizing comments against Israel shared by community propagandist Linda Sarsour and Congressional candidate Ilhan Omar are largely protected by the very same Muslims who stand in solidarity with victimized Jews. You cannot do both. If you stand with Jews under attack, you must also always speak out against rhetoric that legitimizes anti-Semitism. Congressional candidate Ilhan Omar continues to defend her bizarre 2012 tweet calling Israel ‘evil’ and engaging in fanatical conspiracy theories that Israel has somehow bewitched the world; and just this year, Linda Sarsour called for Muslims to stop humanizing Israelis (also commonly known as Jews).
American Anti-Semitism Becomes a Crisis Point for Faith Communities
The murder of 11 Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life synagogue, including those who survived the Holocaust, woke America up to the serious threat of American anti-Semitism. Rising hate toward the Jewish people had already been a growing fear for many Jews after the 2016 elections when deeply-burrowed hate, xenophobia, and racism surfaced to what is quickly becoming a crisis point for the country. Paired with an open distrust of Muslims, it is not surprising that Muslims have been quick to respond to the suffering of their brothers and sisters in faith.
The attack on the Tree of Life synagogue brought Muslims forward in solidarity and support for the Jewish community, to stand shoulder to shoulder with others in faith and to also speak out against anti-Semitism. In just under a week, Muslims poured forth at the site of the shooting, passing out white roses, observing in silence, sharing in the shedding of tears; some stood as bodyguards and others pledged to protect Jewish neighbors as they continue in their day to day life.
Muslims Raise Funds for Victims of Tree of Life Synagogue Attack
Multiple fundraising campaigns were also launched within hours of the attack. CelebrateMercy and MPower Change (Sarsour’s organization) initiated a LaunchGood campaign that has already raised over $200,000.
The real hat-tip goes to Iranian refugee Shay Khatiri, who raised over $700,000 within two days. The 29-year-old political refugee and graduate student at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies is now pushing to raise over a million dollars through his GoFundMe campaign.
Elsewhere pocket communities and individuals are also taking to crowdfunding to be of some immediate impact. Muslim activist and speaker Tarek El-Messidi raised $25,000 because, according to him, “We live in a time where so much bigoted rhetoric is being amplified.”
However, the daily bigotry happens in our own backyards. If we want to show solidarity with people of faith, we need to first stand in solidarity with our own who speak out against hate and abuse within Muslim institutions. Then we need to speak out against Jew-hatred everywhere we meet it, whether it is in our families, during a Friday sermon, or said by Muslims in positions of power.
If you cannot do this simple thing, please don’t pretend to later stand in solidarity with Jews. You cannot both stand quietly by and support Jew-hatred with your silence, and also cry alongside mourners of anti-Semitic attacks. It’s one or the other.