Friday, August 20, 2010

In Southern Manhattan, I am a Muslim

Early this year, I declared myself "Seismic Shock" in solidarity with a blogger faced with threats of legal retaliation for daring to expose the links between a prominent pastor and anti-Semitic thugs.

The "controversy" over the proposed Southern Manhattan Muslim community center continues to grow, and folks stretch to ever deeper contortions to justify passive-aggressions "questions must be asked" formulations about whether the Imam is a closet Islamist. In that light, we read Jeffrey Goldberg's account of that Imam's sermon at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, and bow our heads in shame:
We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.

As Mr. Goldberg correctly notes:
There are those who would argue that these represent mere words, chosen carefully to appease a potentially suspicious audience. I would argue something different: That any Muslim imam who stands before a Jewish congregation and says, "I am a Jew," is placing his life in danger. Remember, Islamists hate the people they consider apostates even more than they hate Christians and Jews. In other words, the man many commentators on the right assert is a terrorist-sympathizer placed himself in mortal peril in order to identify himself with Christians and Jews, and specifically with the most famous Jewish victim of Islamism.

I noted very early on that the demagogues who have created this controversy were taking the oppression of Jews in the Arab world not as a violation to be condemned, but as a model to emulate. The religious bigotry and hatred they are promoting is one that threatens me too. The experience of not being able to worship freely, of being seen as a permanent outsider, of constantly having to prove one's loyalty to country and community, these are all quite familiar to me. And in that sense, just as I am a Jew, I am a Muslim -- and always have been.

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