Synagogues and Bridges in the Bronx

Today’s blog is by Eboo Patel and Samantha Kirby. Wednesday night in New York, four Muslim men were arrested for … Continued

Today’s blog is by Eboo Patel and Samantha Kirby.

Wednesday night in New York, four Muslim men were arrested for a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx, NY, and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base. They were quoted in newspapers as saying they wanted to “commit jihad” and that “if Jews were killed in this attack…that would be all right.”

About three weeks ago, in New York, a Muslim man, Imam Shamsi Ali, gave a talk at the Free Synagogue in Queens about the “Essence of Islam” during an interfaith Holocaust remembrance service. After the talk, he engaged in a dialogue with Rabbi Michael Weisser, who said “Imam Ali and I share a common vision of a world in which people of all traditions will come to consider themselves as family working together to build a more harmonious world.”

Which one of these stories do we want to tell our kids?

The story of how several repeat-offenders, (one of whom made statements on Islam that “often had to be corrected” according to an assistant Imam), took a twisted version of Islam and aspired to commit violent acts in its name?

Or the story of how Jewish and Muslim communities are coming together to learn from one another and ensure that one of the most horrific acts of the 20th century should never be repeated?

Or better yet – how can we transform the first story into the second story?

This is one job of an interfaith leader.

The way that communities react to events like the one that happened Wednesday night can change the story. Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), immediately came out with the following statement: “We repeat the American Muslim community’s repudiation of bias-motivated crimes and of anyone who would falsely claim religious justification for violent actions.”

Mayor Bloomberg said “Most people in New York City want to live together, work together, and I think we’re as safe today as we’ve ever been before.”

The first important steps have been taken: national and community leaders are speaking out against this act, refuting the religious claims of the would-be attackers and reassuring the community that the majority of people want nothing more than to live and work together in peace.

Now the next steps must be taken. Interfaith leaders must step up and work to ensure that relationships between the Jewish and Muslim communities, bonds we know exist from other events such as the Holocaust remembrance service, are maintained. They should create forums for discussion on how to keep their community safe, and talk about how to process events like these. They must host dialogues to better understand one another and the shared values among their different faith traditions, then organize service events to act on these values and better their common community.

One way to start this process is to take direct public action. In Chicago after September 11, a mosque received threats of violence against anyone entering the building. This mosque had existed for years in the community, and the Muslims who prayed there had built relationships with their Jewish and Christian neighbors. Because these communities realized that an attack on any one group is an attack on everyone, they stood vigil around the mosque during afternoon prayers to ensure that the Muslim community could pray in peace.

No matter what activities community leaders in the Bronx may choose, they should work towards one end – the end that can transform the 21st century into an era of interfaith cooperation instead of the era of global terror.

They must build bridges.

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  • BOBSTERII

    If somebody wants to do some crap and mess; don’t do it in synagoges, mosques, churches or temples. I am sure there are plenty of people and countries that want to pick a bone with Israel, well go to Israel, dont’ bring us your problems here. This also reffers to our government; don’t bring Israel to us here. Jews in America are normal and different than most of Israeli Jews. Zionists are not Jews and they are not praying for same things like Jews.

  • kyohei

    I noticed that how easy it is to demonize wrongdoers and just end up blaming them. It does not contribute towards building a better society. However, while their plot was totally illegitimate, I also wonder if the four men who were arrested may not have grown up hearing the stories of pluralism, but of religious violence in their lives. It implies that people did not tell an alternative story: religious pluralism in their community. Having considered this background, while it is painful to admit this, I think the responsibility should be taken by most of us, who are hoping for the peaceful coexistence of people from different background. This is a role of interfaith leaders to fulfill. The question of “Which one of these stories do we want to tell our kids?” matters.

  • CCNL

    And the foundation of these terrorists acts is???? Hmmm???The koran!!!! Until its warmongering, “kill all infidels” and anti-female passages are removed, Islamic terror squads will continue to thrive.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    It gets old, Eboo. Bear in mind that the American Jewish community has shown tremendous forebearance, that there are many angry young men among us, that they’ve been visible before, and will be, I think, again.I’ve seen them at “interfaith dialogs.”Every time you write, you feed them, Eboo, one among several reasons I recommend you devote more time to your day job and quit blogging here.IMHO, get real. There is among Askenazic (European) Jews the idiotic notion that everything can be solved with dialogue. It cannot be, particularly when one’s interlocuter is imagined. We are an optimistic people, Eboo, but we are also a people who survive.Imaginary Dialogue. The murder of my family’s friend in front of me by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard demonstrated that to me quite clearly that imaginary dialogue is not a path to “peace.” Both before and since, I’ve been provided with abundant evidence.It is true that we Iranian Jews did not gather in Tehran and blow ourselves up. Perhaps we should have. Perhaps we should have. Eboo, hypocritical writer, neither my reflection nor my brother, where is a single comment from your morally impoverished self on young Gavriel and Rivka, eight months pregnant, six other Jews, specifically targeted to be butchered in Mumbai by your co-religionissts? And buthcered they were in front of their four year old child, carried out covered in his mother’s blood by his sixty-something nannie, a woman whose courage you cannot even envision.You have demonstrated passing knowledge of Christianity. Note I say “passing,” not pasaable. You have shown no knowledge of Judaism. Zero. Do not depend upon the gentle. Yes, Gavriel and Rivka’s community said others will take the place in Mumbai of the slaughtered Jews. Yes, the community said, “We shall win them [you] over with will, shall bring you to us with kindness….” Yes. Eboo, they are there now.And, here, now, are endless numbers of well-heeled Hindus, Eboo, who are reaching out to guess who? But, then, you don’t need to guess, do you. They’ve extended their hands to us J people, Eboo, big, big, time.Want our silence on the Dalit, of course. Of course, that will be difficult as we are a people with an ethics. They’ve already got your silence on the Dalit.I don’t like ignorant moral cowards. They just don’t like you. Not one bit. Time for a choice, Eboo, moral, first.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    BobsterrII,Re: Your postMany Jews most certainly are “Zionists,” a term you have not defined. There are enough Zionisms to fill up a three-story building. The trashing of a word by the illiterate does not mean that the concept it represents is either simple or reprehensible. (Duh)Jews are Jews. I haven’t any idea what you mean by “normal,” since nothing in your post suggests you are acquainted with the construct.Be aware that the four would-be terrorist thugs had plenty to say about the Christians and had targeted the American military.As for our Christian governement, past and present, it has brought the Middle East to us, right to our doorsteps, even closer since the former Christian president invaded Iraq and all-but-demolished Afghanistan. Closer even than 9/11, I fear, which came about because the Christianist governments had not removed the American military from the sacred land of Saudi Arabia, as the Christianist government had promised the Christianist trained Osama Bin Ladin.Christianists certainly are Christians, aren’t they. Fortunately there are Christians who are simply Christians. Hopefully, they’re praying for something that we Jews, including those among us who are Zionists (a term of which your ignorance is obvious), call peace.Neither our governement nor the Christianists should be causing American blood to spill, foreign blood to spill. But they will continue to do so in the interest of oil. Among other things.Look up the word “peace.” It’s a good word. We Jews put it in the Bible, repeated it many, many times in the last seven thousand years. Hopefully, you will hear it, understand it some day.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    ONce again for those who forget:From the New Catholic Testifiers, the cult founded by C.Christian Nut-Louse, we read:”And I say unto you, once fossilized, stay that way, no matter the consequences to health, particularly, your children’s, and your children’s children. After all, they’ll grow up at some point, maybe, and in the meantime, who really cares what nonsense you fill them with or what happens to them in the meantime???” (Nut-Louse: 34:12)C. Christian Nut-Louse. You and the New in the New Testament. Antarctica: Antarctic UP, 1957.Available in Bent Glacier, Antartica. Starting at 1.26. (ending at 1.32)Contains information on why terrorism isn’t so bad, how to brutalize Bahai, molest Muslims, debase Judaism, why divorce is unnecessary, child abuse not so abusive, the trinitarian question (mark), etc., based on the C.Christian Nut-Lousian reading. andC.Christian Nut-Louse. The New in the New Testament. Antarctica: Antarctic UP, 1957.Available in Deep Drifts, Antarctica. Starting at 1.29. (ending at 1.34)Contains information on rites, rituals, holidays, why African American Presidents shouldn’t speak at Notre Dame, why elderly men have proprietary rights to women’s bodies, etc., based on the C.Christian Nut-Lousian reading.

  • lildg54

    I am sorry to say facts bare it out Muslim = terrorist I salam = fanatcics and terrorist they both =suicide bombers

  • Christopher3

    SKRL321 actually believes this nonsense. lol! Why don’t you tell us how the problem is getting worse and worse if interfaith dialogue is helping? You might want educate yourself on CAIR, the group that he quotes.

  • skr321

    Well, this is what happens when you have a muslim in the white house. This never happened before he got in.

  • Montedoro

    Wherever did these four Black Moslems learn that carrying out jihad for the sake of Allah involves killing Jews and other Americans? Who taught them that? Which verses of the Koran were used to convince them that this was the right thing to do? Since they are Moslems, we can’t really call them Islamophobes for connecting Islam to the murder of Jews and Christians. Like the folks from the Council on Amereican Islamic Relations, we could, I suppose, say that they misunderstood Islam. What was it, exactly, that they misunderstood?

  • wpc09

    SKRL321 wrote: “Well, this is what happens when you have a muslim in the white house. This never happened before he got in. “As is well known and well established, President Obama is not a Muslim. But whether he or we are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Baha’i or something else, what value is there in contention, hatred, and strife? Eboo Patel is to be lauded for his tireless work for interfaith understanding. Working together builds understanding.

  • ooyah32

    **better yet – how can we transform the first story into the second story?**It is neither the job nor the place of a non-Muslim to determine which is the “true” Islam and which is the false.How offensively imperialistic it is for someone of one religion to claim that he or she can say whether one group or the other is more faithful to another religion.Osama, al Quada, the Taliban, and other “radical” Islamists claim that they are the true Muslims — who am I, a non-Muslim, to say that they are wrong?Now, I know you have folks like Sally Quinn who presume all the time to tell Christians what they really believe, but such presumptuous conduct is really, not only arrogant, but non-productive of the truth.

  • Christopher3

    The author of this article is just another Muslim propagandist. He has no credibility as he quotes the pro-sharia terrorist supporting organization CAIR.Dialogue with Muslims has obviously been going on for centuries. It is just a stall tactic by them and it changes nothing. If Muslims wanted to change things they would of already.

  • Paganplace

    “Well, this is what happens when you have a muslim in the white house. This never happened before he got in.skr321″Actually, I do believe our law enforcement people actually *did* foil a little attack or two before Obama was elected, in spite of who was in office, then. I seem to remember an attack *did* get through, let’s see, when was that… Around 2001? I think it was in the news or something. So, I’d say, having a Muslim in the White House doesn’t… Oh, wait, that’s not even true, either, is it. Gods know how conservative Christians managed to pose as the ‘strong on national security’ party, they can’t even get their fats straight on who’s President.

  • Usama1

    Its clear to me that racist, bigoted, blackhearted males, most likely caucasian, feel that their superiority and privileged birthrights are being impinged by a multiracial president and the presence of Islam, a religion that does NOT say the son of God is white, and God is white, and white Judeo-Christian Euro centric men are God’s chosen people. Islam doesn’t elevate any race or group above another and that’s dangerous to those who think they are inheritly superior. But this is how all tyrannical peoples percieve themselves: above God’s authority and judgement and superior to anyone who bows and prostrates- ugh- to God.

  • Usama1

    It should by noted that white males engaged in several terrorist attacks during the Clinton administration. And there have been several terrorist attacks on Muslims by Americans, on their mosques, and of course 100s of 1000s (if not millions) of Muslim people have been killed since 9/11 due to the actions of American troops. A terrorist action is defined as: “Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought” (Schmid, 1988). By definition, the so called ‘hate crime’ of attacking, shooting, bombing mosques and Muslim worshippers, which have occurred over a 100 times in the past 10 years in America, by individuals and groups ARE terrorist attacks. Only the media plays it down. There was even a white, male, rightwing pilot who flew his plane into the White House to kill the president and himself. This was downplayed as a crazy man, but it was much more.

  • abhab

    Usama maintains:Apparently you have never lived in a majority Muslim society. In Arab countries a black man is called “Abed” which is slave in Arabic. Black people are sold in Khartoum and Jeddah till this date. The people of South Sudan refer to the Muslims of North Sudan as Jallaba, which means “slave traders” in Arabic, and that is why they are seceding . When the Quran states that the “believers are the best of people” the Arabs take that to mean them and them alone, since the Quran was written in their language and the Muslim prophet is from them.