New Age Islam
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Interfaith Dialogue ( 4 Nov 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Breaking Down Negative Muslim and Jewish Stereotypes



By Tahir Gora

October 31, 2013

Yossi Klein Halevi, an Israeli author, was talking to a small group of media people on Israel's concerns over political upside downs in the Middle East and sort of Iran's apparent u-turn policy towards Israel last week in a meeting arranged by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

My presence as a lone Muslim journalist in the meeting also brought up the discussion on relations between Jews and Muslims. Halevi was convinced that Islam bashing by a very tiny percentage of very right wing Jews is not a good sign in terms of creating good relations with Muslims.

Contrary to the Muslim stereotype, I had to be honest and admit that unfortunately a vast majority of Muslims are highly biased against Jews.

The question arises here: How can stereotypes from both sides be lessened?

First, Muslims need to disassociate themselves from the conspiracy theories associated to Israel based on their own self-created and self-inflicted miseries.

For instance, I can't understand why Muslims from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Somalia, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia etc., have to be against Israel and Jews over Israel's conflicts with Hamas, Al-Fatah and Hizbullah. Muslims from those countries have no reason to hate or dislike Israel. But unfortunately they do on the basis of rhetoric that Israel is an illegitimate state.

They tirelessly call it an Apartheid State based on those conflicts. They never rationalize the fact that Israel is a legitimate and a democratic state that has granted citizenship and equal rights to hundreds of thousands Muslims including Palestinians

They call to boycott Israel and Israeli products at all international platforms. That's a ridiculous approach as well. Such rhetoric would definitely create a negative stereotype of Muslims within Jewish communities.

Jews in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere always wonder why hundreds of Muslim Student organizations in North America particularly spew anti-Semitism against them on the bases of conflicts in the Middle East or on the basis of some strong Koranic verses against them that were actually said in the context of seventh century tribal conflicts.

Professor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin gave two powerful presentations, one in York University and the other in McMaster University entitled "Anti-Semitism on Campuses".

She brought alarming statistics and facts regarding anti-Semitic attitudes of some Muslim Student organizations, very left-leaning groups and even ultra left Jews' anti-Semitic activities.

Her presentation was full of worrisome data which concluded that Jewish students on campuses are highly vulnerable to being bulled and harassed.

Sadly, the blame goes rightly to those Muslim students who are not taught the right facts of history and current political situations. Those Muslim groups are using Israel Palestine conflict as a tool to further their emotional and political hate agenda against Israel and Jews.

One can see a little effort from Muslims finally that Canadian Thinkers' Forum and Progressive Muslims Institute Canada have established a Muslim Committee against Anti Semitism.

This committee collaborated with Never Again Group to arrange Professor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin's presentation "Anti-Semitism on Campuses" in McMaster University.

When the Jewish community sees a notable effort by Muslims to combat anti-Semitism, they may rethink their own stereotypes against Islam and Muslims.