Jews and Muslims have sometimes encountered difficulty working together due to splits over issues like Israel-Palestine. But after the election of Donald Trump, the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America have announced a new advisory council to fight both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
“We have to show the administration that as American Muslims and Jews — people of the faiths of Abraham — we are uniting to help the administration navigate in the proper constitutional manner, to uphold freedom of religion and constitutional rights for all American citizens,” Eftakhar Alam, ISNA’s head for interfaith and community alliances, told the Religious News Service.
Planned since before the election, the body’s formation has taken on new urgency in the wake of last week’s results and this week’s appointment to a senior White House position of Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who has faced charges of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Stanley Bergman, the chief executive officer of the medical products company Henry Schein, and Farooq Kathwari, the president of the furniture manufacturer Ethan Allen, will head up the council. Big name participants on the Jewish side include the Holocaust researcher Deborah Lipstadt, Los Angeles Rabbi David Wolpe and outgoing Congressman Steve Israel. On the Muslim side, there will be D.C. imam Masjid Muhammad, Suhail Khan of Microsoft and Daisy Khan of the Women’s Islamic Initiative.
AJC leaders hailed the development, in comments to RNS.
“The Council’s formation shows that American Muslim and Jewish leadership are now working together, focused on domestic developments,” Robert Silverman, the group’s director of Muslim-Jewish relations, told the publication. “This is a first and is good news for the entire country.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.