Renewed Hope for Jewish-Muslim Relations in America

December 30, 2001

Source: Los Angeles Times

On December 30, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported that "as 2002 dawns, relations between Jews and Muslims... in the United States are tense at best, murderous at worst... In this country, the Jewish community has been resentful at the failure of Muslim organizations to condemn terrorist attacks in Israel, and these groups are angry that U.S. Jewish groups haven't spoken out about the plight of the Palestinians. In the midst of this grim standoff, at least a few hopeful signs exist that relations between Jews and Muslims in America might improve, and that this, in turn, might have some indirect positive effect on the dismal Middle East situation... Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo hosted a unique interfaith event sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice in conjunction with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the Orange County Islamic Foundation and the Interfaith Peace Ministry. It simultaneously marked the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Christian season of Advent and the first night of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah... During Ramadan at UCLA, Muslim and Jewish students held a joint iftar, or fast-breaking dinner... as part of a larger effort by students from the two faiths to build bridges of understanding... A final sign of hope for improved Jewish-Muslim relations is the renewed interest in Islam, especially, and religion in general after Sept. 11. The American public has grown eager to learn more about the history and teachings of Islam... Factual information about religious traditions dispels bias and fear. Even one lecture by a religion scholar on, for example, the commonalities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and, of course, the differences) is a tonic for tolerance."