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“First Arab nominated for Holocaust honor”: Holocaust honor. For the first time, an Arab was nominated for recognition as “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honor bestowed on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution. According to the article, “at the height of World War II, Khaled Abdelwahhab hid a group of Jews on his farm in a small Tunisian town, saving them from the Nazi troops occupying the North African nation.”
This article and nomination underscores a little known fact that Muslim Arabs during WWII often acted in accordance to their faith by risking their lives to save their Jewish friends and neighbors who had lived in peace with them for centuries. It is this spirit of true compassion for any oppressed people that is at the root of Islamic injunctions to safeguard all houses of worship and worshippers, as outlined in the Qur’anic verse: “Had God not restrained one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, temples and mosques wherein God’s name is oft-mentioned would have been destroyed. God will certainly aid those who aid His cause.” (Qur’an, Chapter 22:39-40).
To that end, a group from the ongoing ING-JCRC coalition visited the Judah L. Magnes Museum on Jan. 28 to view “Through the Eye of The Needle,” an exhibition of fabric art by Holocaust survivor Esther Nisenthal Krinitz. The exhibit told the story of Esther, from her idyllic life before the annexation of Poland by the Germans, through the gradual increase in harassment, and eventual destruction of the Jewish community in her village, which she escapes by hiding in the countryside. The visit reflects similar efforts by Muslim Americans across the country to demonstrate the true spirit of Islamic compassion. To read more about the visit, go to: ING-JCRC Holocaust memorial visit. To view the exhibit, go to: Magnes museum.
Another recent story on Muslim-Jewish relations that challenges the traditional picture of conflict and strife describes a Jewish school in England where half the pupils are Muslims. The misperception that many people have in the West that Jews and Muslims have always been adversaries is quite the opposite from the historical fact: Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries without any of the persecution or pogroms that occurred in many parts of Europe.
ING Events of Note:
ING Participates in “Justice, Religion, and Conflict Resolution” World Forum, 2/1- 2/03/07
ING’s president was a panelist and participant at the World Forum in San Francisco which focused on the topic of global conflict resolution without violence. The forum included a distinguished list of panelists, including Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; Juan Mendez, Special Advisor to the U.N. on the Prevention of Genocide; Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State; Eva Paterson, President of Equal Justice Society; and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The event was attended by over four hundred leaders from a variety of sectors, including interfaith, economic, and political backgrounds, and included attendees from all over the world. The main focus of the forum was to address the challenge of resolving conflicts constructively and co-existing peacefully. Both plenary sessions and smaller workshops examined ways for the global community to solve this critical problem. ING’s president was also invited to private receptions for Madeline Albright and Elie Wiesal, as was ING one of the Forum’s co-sponsors, along with United Religions Initiative (URI), U.N.’s Department of Public Information, and Bar Association of San Francisco. For more information about the World Forum, visit Rockrose Institute.
ING Conducts 4-hour Trainings for the Pleasanton Police Department, 1/29-2/4/07
ING has completed two out of four trainings for the Pleasanton Police Department which are being delivered each Monday from 8:00-12:00 over a period of four weeks. The four hour training, entitled “Working with the Arab and Muslim American Communities,” covers a variety of topics with the goal of providing cultural competency education on Arab and Muslim American cultures. It includes a discussion of basic terminology, common perceptions about Muslims and Arabs and their sources and consequences, an overview of religious diversity in the U.S., demographics of Muslims globally and in the U.S., and protocols for interaction.
The first two trainings, on Monday, January 29th, and February 5th were received with interest and enthusiasm by the police officers, many of who had no or little contact with Muslim Americans. Most of their contact had been through domestic violence calls, a growing problem in the Muslim as well as the larger community, and as a result had numerous questions about the role and status of Muslim women. It is important that the Muslim community gain an increased awareness of this serious issue that affects families across ethnic, religious, and economic lines, and begin addressing it. It is also important for Muslims to gain a better understanding of the role and job of the police relating to this and other areas. To this end, we invite mosques and organizations to consider hosting their local police department to come in and educate the community about police culture and protocols. If you would like ING to facilitate such a program, or to schedule an ING training for your local police, fire department, or city officials, contact the ING’s scheduler, Rani Shah at 408-29607312 or visit our website at: ING.ORG
In another related event, an ING speaker addressed the Tri-Valley Hate Coalition in Dublin on Tuesday, January 23rd. The meeting was attended by 25 of the group’s membership which included law enforcement officials, school district superintendents, and attorneys. An overview of Islam and Muslim cultures was presented followed by a discussion on commonly held perceptions and stereotypes.
ING Speaker Addresses Topic of Global Warming and the Environment, 2/2/07
ING has been involved in a series of interfaith discussions about the environment and global warming in recent months, including a screening of Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” To that end, ING has developed a presentation on “Islam and the Environment” that was delivered for the first time on Friday, February 2nd at SBIA’s Family Night, along with clips from the film as presented by Al Gore recently on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The presentation includes the Qur’anic perspective on the environment, and the role of humankind in preserving it. It also includes tips for all of us to do our part in protecting our world and reducing global warming. ING has also adopted an environmental policy for the organization, which will be released soon for other organizations to model.
The discussion about this critical topic reached a new level last Thursday, when a report issued by the world’s leading climate scientists declared with almost complete certainty that global warming was due to human causes, and that the devastating affects of climate change would continue for centuries and could escalate severely if nothing was done to change current emissions of greenhouse gases. To see how you or your organization can do your part to reduce carbon emissions and preserve the environment, visit: http://www.climatecrisis.net/. To request an ING presentation for your interfaith event or mosque, please contact Rani Shah, INGscheduler at 408-296-7312.
ING First Peninsula Interfaith Event a Great Success, 1/25/07
ING’s first of three interfaith events on the Peninsula this spring was a great success. The event, entitled, “Is there Value in Faith in our Modern Society?” attracted an audience of over 100 guests from diverse religions who gathered at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo to listen to guest speakers from five faith traditions address this timely topic. After each speaker addressed the topic from their own perspective for about ten minutes, the panel then further discussed the topic between themselves. The audience then had a chance to get to know one another and discuss related topics in break-out groups, before coming back for a Q & A session with the panelists. Refreshments were available in plenty throughout the evening, and participants from various faiths agreed that it was an engaging and rich evening for all involved.
ING’s second Peninsula Series Interfaith event will be held on Thursday, March 15th, also from 7:00-9:30, at Yaseen Foundation, 621 Masonic Way in Belmont. The topic of discussion will be “Have Women’s Leadership Roles Changed in Religion?,” and will feature a panel of women religious leaders. We invite you to mark your calendars and join us as we share in another evening of interfaith discussion. For more information on ING’s interfaith work, contact Yasmine Khan, ING’s interfaith coordinator at[email protected].